The inference of historical relationships between objects using data other than biological sequences. Phylomemetics may include the inference of copying histories of witnesses based on shared readings.

The word was coined in analogy to phylogenetics, but containing Richard Dawkins's (1976, xi. 206) coinage meme 'a cultural element or behavioural trait whose transmission and consequent persistence in a population, although occurring by non-genetic means (esp. imitation), is considered as analogous to the inheritance of a gene' (OED). Dawkins derived the word from Greek μίμημα 'anything imitated' by abbreviation.


– Dawkins, Richard. 1976. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
– Howe, Christopher J., and Heather F. Windram. 2011. “Phylomemetics—Evolutionary Analysis beyond the Gene.” PLoS Biol 9(5): e1001069. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001069. Accessed 28 October 2015.

In other languages

DE: Phylomemetik (rarely used)
FR: phylomemetique (rarely used)
IT: filomemetica (rarely used)


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