“Radical” or “Conservative”? The Origin and Early Reception of Punctuated Equilibrium

David Sepkoski

in The Paleobiological Revolution

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780226748610
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226748597 | DOI:
“Radical” or “Conservative”? The Origin and Early Reception of Punctuated Equilibrium

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This chapter investigates the origin and early history of the theory of punctuated equilibrium, from its first articulation in 1971 through subsequent revision and reaction into the early 1980s. It argues that punctuated equilibrium cannot be separated from the broader development of theoretical paleobiology promoted during the mid-1970s by a group of paleontologists dedicated to revising the goals, agenda, and status of paleontology. This chapter also suggests that punctuated equilibrium is part of a larger movement that involved not just Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, but his colleagues David Raup, Thomas Schopf, Steven Stanley, and others who sought to redefine paleontological evolutionary theory largely without the directional causes central to traditional Darwinian evolution via natural selection.

Keywords: punctuated equilibrium; theoretical paleobiology; paleontologists; Stephen Jay Gould; Niles Eldredge; David Raup; Thomas Schopf; Steven Stanley; Darwinian evolution; natural selection

Chapter.  10236 words. 

Subjects: Palaeontology

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