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Cooption (synonyms: co-option, co-optation, change of function, functional shift, preadaptation, exaptation) is the process by which a structure or system with an original function adds or changes to a new function.
This is an important evolutionary process that is often neglected by those who oversimplify Darwinian evolution as mere improvement of function. Darwin gave change of function and improvement of function equal emphasis in his discussion of the origin of complex adaptations, as have most major evolutionary biologists (see citations of cooption). However, the process was mostly neglected during the critiques of evolutionary biology by IDists Behe and Dembski, and they still have yet to come to terms with the process, preferring to rely on unsupported denial that it occurs.
See citations of cooption for discussions of cooption by prominent biologists over the decades.