punctuated equilibrium

noun

Definition of punctuated equilibrium

: evolution that is characterized by long periods of stability in the characteristics of an organism and short periods of rapid change during which new forms appear especially from small subpopulations of the ancestral form in restricted parts of its geographic range also : a theory or model of evolution emphasizing this — compare gradualism sense 2

Examples of punctuated equilibrium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The idea, called punctuated equilibrium, was originally developed by paleontologists to explain patterns in the emergence and diversification of new species, which sometimes seems to happen in sudden bursts of activity after eons of stability. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Ancient slag offers insight into the uneven pace of technological advances," 20 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'punctuated equilibrium.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of punctuated equilibrium

1972, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of punctuated equilibrium was in 1972

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Cite this Entry

“Punctuated equilibrium.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punctuated%20equilibrium. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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