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1. The theory that the evolution of life on earth typically follows a pattern in which long periods of little morphological change are punctuated by relatively short periods of significant change, when speciation occurs.
2. Evolutionary development of this kind.
a theory that the evolution of species proceeds with long periods of relative stability interspersed with rapid change. Compare gradualism (def. 2).
The theory that new species evolve suddenly over relatively short periods of time, followed by longer periods in which little genetic change occurs. Punctuated equilibrium is a revision of Darwin's theory that evolution takes place at a slow, constant rate over millions of years. Compare gradualism. See Note at evolution.
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|Noun||1.||punctuated equilibrium - a theory of evolution holding that evolutionary change in the fossil record came in fits and starts rather than in a steady process of slow change|