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What is Basal?

In phylogenetics — the scientific study of the evolutionary history and relationships of groups of organisms (aka deciphering the tree of life) — basal refers to a group that lies closer to the base of the family tree than later or "advanced" groups. For example: Coelophysoidea (including Coelophysis) is a relatively basal group within the family Theropoda compared to Ceratosauria (including Ceratosaurus), Allosauroidea (including Allosaurus) and Tyrannosauroidea (including Tyrannosaurus).
When referring to individuals as basal they are merely closer to the base of a group.

Basal is sometimes interpteted as meaning "primitive", but scientists don't like this term as it suggests inferiority or lack of complexity, which isn't necessarily the case.

Americans will also tell you that BAY-zuhl is a fragrant herb. The rest of the English-speaking universe know it as BA-zul and it's a common ingredient in Italian-inspired foods like pizza, pasta, and pesto. We don't know if it will improve the flavour of dinosaur but we have been musing here.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "DinoChecker FAQ entry :: What is Basal?"
http://www.dinochecker.com/dinosaurfaqs/what-is-basal›. Web access: 25th Jun 2017.
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