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Exaptation, also radical repurposing, is is the taking of an idea, concept, tool, method, framework, etc., intended to address one thing, and using it to address a different thing, often in another domain.


English text with a description and a picture, this section can be subdivided as necessary Non-linear repurposing...

With major methods parts of this section may link to other articles which describe aspects in more detail

Exaptation is defined by (Andrews et al. 2002, Buller 2005, 84) through its frequent use in evolutionary psychology, whereby “exaptation” is understood as follows: “T is exaptation if and only if T is now adaptive for F, and (a) T was selected for F’ (where F and F’ are different), or (b) T is a by-product of a different adaptation T”


  • Biology and evolution
    • Cerebellum evolution in higher apes to manipulate muscles in fingers and subsequent exaptation in humans to manage grammar in language
    • Dendronization [1] in plants that evolved to produce wood
    • Feathered dinosaurs evolving into birds
  • Business and technology
    • Microwave ovens
    • Pharma-related side-effects example
    • IBM's 18th century punchcard repurposing for data processing

Supporting artefacts

Any training material, posters and like with links to where they can be acquired


Articles and books

  • Cattani, Gino & Andriani, Pierpaolo. (2016). Exaptation as source of creativity, innovation, and diversity: introduction to the Special Section. Industrial and Corporate Change. 25. 115-131.
  • Andrews P., Gangestad S., and Mathews D., (2002) “Adaptionism - How to carry out an Exaptionist program “ Behavioural and Brain Sciences 25: 489-553
  • Cristoforo Armeno (1557) Peregrinaggio di tre giovani figliuoli del re di Serendippo, Per opra di M. Christoforo Armeno dalla Persiana nell'Italiana lingua trapportato. Venezia, Michele Tramezzino.

Blog posts

Related concepts


Link to case articles here or third party material

Other references

  1. https://eukaryotewritesblog.com/2021/05/02/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-tree/ "To abstract a little more, there is a common and useful structure in herbaceous plants that, when slightly tweaked, “dendronizes” them into woody plants."