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punc'tuated equilib'rium

theory of, Biol.a hypothesis holding that the evolution of species proceeds in a characteristic pattern of relative stability for long periods of time interspersed with much shorter periods during which many species become extinct and new species emerge. Also called punctuationalism. Cf. gradualism (def. 3).

Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

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