atavism [ˈætəˌvɪzəm] n.
1.) The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes.
2.) An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called "throwback".
3.) The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language).
Etymology: French atavisme, from Latin atavus, ancestor: atta, father + avus, grandfather.
"Anyway, hence the atavistic shark fetish, which I need to admit came back with a long-repressed vengeance on this Luxury Cruise, and that I made such a fuss about the one (possible) dorsal fin I saw off starboard that my companions at supper's Table 64 finally had to tell me, with all possible tact, to shut up about the fin already" ("A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again", David Foster Wallace, 1995).
Anyone seen The Tree of Life yet? I saw it last night and I haven't made up my mind about it yet. It did take me back to my childhood in a way that no film ever has, there were some amazing shots of space and Earth, a few moments when the score really worked, and Brad Pitt gave a good performance. It probably could have been a great movie if he had just edited out the annoying and pretentious voice-overs and shot the thing without all the shaky, hand-held camera-work and wide-angle-lens nonsense.