Variations in the skeletal systems of two early types of human are illustrated in this diagram.

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The question is that is there any particular purpose of being used the word variation instead of difference in this context. Don't they mean nearly the same thing?

  • 2
    Variation, variety, vary etc. all imply change (from an original form) - in your context, evolutionary changes (from some common ancestral form). You might say that A, ɑ, and a are variations of a single underlying letter, whereas A and X, for example, are simply different letters. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 16 '17 at 15:09
  • "Variation" is a kind of difference, so the author could have written "difference" with little change in meaning. "Variation" is a more precise word (as Peter defines in his answer). – Andrew May 16 '17 at 16:31
  • @FumbleFingers is the word variation used to refer to the comparison between the two skeletal systems or differences only one system ? – Cavid Hummatov May 16 '17 at 16:44
  • There's no particular reason why your introductory text shouldn't have been Differences between the skeletal systems of two early types of human... But you can't have differences or variations unless you're comparing at least two different things (skeletons, skeletal systems, or whatever). I'm simply saying that there can be a slight difference (usually not slight variation) between the nuances conveyed by the two words. If you've got variations, this usually implies things vary from some underlying form. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 16 '17 at 16:52
  • let's say, australopithecus afarensis had heavier body while homo erectus was slimmer. So could we say that this is the variation between the 2 skeletal systems? – Cavid Hummatov May 16 '17 at 17:06

A variation is a change from a model or standard, a difference is a measure of the variation

In mathematics, the difference between two numbers is the subtractive result, whereas the variation is how much/often the differences occur in a population.

Variations create differences between an original and offshoots.

  • it's hard to understand your point unless you support it with some simple examples. – Cavid Hummatov May 16 '17 at 17:10

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