Proximate Explanation

A proximate explanation refers to a description of the immediate causes or mechanisms that directly contribute to a particular behavior or trait. It seeks to analyze how an organism performs a certain behavior or possesses a specific trait in terms of its internal physiological processes or immediate environmental factors. Proximate explanations focus on the “how” questions, pertaining to the immediate mechanisms at play.

Ultimate Explanation

An ultimate explanation refers to a description of the evolutionary reasons or historical factors that have shaped a particular behavior or trait over generations. It aims to analyze why an organism possesses a specific behavior or trait in terms of its adaptive value, reproductive success, or evolutionary history. Ultimate explanations address the “why” questions by exploring the adaptive significance and long-term consequences of a trait or behavior.