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The Appearance panel works a lot like the Layers panel, except instead of stacking objects on top of each other, you stack Dynamic Attributes, starting with fills and strokes, and as many fills and strokes as you like. The fills may include solid colors, gradients, or tile patterns set to different Opacity values, or Blend modes, which is true for the strokes as well. But, the strokes may also include brushes, dashes, and arrowheads.
This train track isn't a bunch of path outlines; it's a single path with a bunch of dashed strokes heaped on top of it. This bedrock and grass are tile patterns stacked below the other attributes, and this top view of the locomotive is nothing more than a collection of strokes--including an arrowhead for the cowcatcher--applied to a single straight line. Edit that one path outline, and all its fills and strokes move along with it. This is Illustrator at its dynamic best.
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