Punctuated equilibrium

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A theory that describes an evolutionary change happening rapidly and in brief geological events in between the long periods of stasis (or equilibrium). The theory is based on the stasis in fossil records, and when phenotypic evolution occurs, it is localized in rare, rapid events of branching speciation.


The American paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould first proposed the theory in 1972 to contrast phyletic gradualism, where evolution is described to happen smoothly and continuously.

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