origin: (1825–35) Latin atavus= ancestor, avus= forefather
1. A genetic throwback, a gene which had previously been dormant (usually for several generations) reappearing.
2. Reverting to an earlier or more primitive state.
A well-documented example of atavism is exhibited in the film Skin, based on the novel When She Was White, about the real life woman Sandra Laing, a child born with African-American characteristics to a Dutch couple, during apartheid in South Africa (1965). The story The Dome features the word as well, a story that parodies "technological advancement" desperately attempting to improve upon nature.