punctuated equilibriumpunc·tu·at·ed equilibrium
a theory of evolution holding that characteristics of living organisms remain relatively stable for long periods that are infrequently interrupted, or punctuated, by brief periods of relatively rapid evolutionary change, caused as by climatic or geologic changes
- 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.
- Evolutionary development of this kind.
(plural punctuated equilibria)
- A theory of evolution holding that evolutionary change tends to be characterized by long periods of stability, or equilibrium, punctuated by episodes of very fast development.