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the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
an individual embodying such a reversion.

reversion to an earlier type; throwback.
the recurrence in a plant or animal of certain primitive characteristics that were present in an ancestor but have not occurred in intermediate generations
reversion to a former or more primitive type

1833, from French atavisme, attested by 1820s, from Latin atavus “ancestor, forefather,” from at- perhaps here meaning “beyond” + avus “grandfather,” from PIE *awo- “adult male relative other than the father” (see uncle).

atavism at·a·vism (āt’ə-vĭz’əm)
The appearance of characteristics that are presumed to have been present in some remote ancestor; reversion to an earlier biological type.
at’a·vist n.
at’a·vis’tic adj.
at’a·vis’ti·cal·ly adv.


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