Gradualism, punctuated equilibrium and the Origin of Species

  title={Gradualism, punctuated equilibrium and the Origin of Species},
  author={Frank Rhodes},
  • F. Rhodes
  • Published 22 September 1983
  • Education
  • Nature
Darwin's views on the ‘tempo and mode’ of evolution are examined through six successive editions of the Origin of Species and through unpublished manuscript material. Although Darwin was a gradualist, there was a significant overlap between his views and those of the proponents of the current theory of punctuated equilibrium. 

Darwinian gradualism and its limits: The development of Darwin's views on the rate and pattern of evolutionary change

The major tenets of the recent hypothesis of punctuated equilibrium are explicit in Darwin's writing and it seems probable that Falconer's work on the persistence of fossil species of elephant helped Darwin to see the wider significance of the tempo of evolution for his general theory.

Structuralism, functionalism, and the four Aristotelian causes

In recent years it has become increasingly appreciated that what is known as the "modern synthesis of evolutionary theory" has severely neglected the role played by ontogeny in the evolution (i.e.,

Punctuated equilibria and phyletic gradualism: Even partners can be good friends

The allegedly alternative theories of Phyletic Gradualism and Punctuated Equilibria are examined and it is concluded that they are to be considered complementary rather than mutually exclusive at all levels of infraspecific, specific, and supraspecific evolution.

Darwin's Theory of Descent with Modification, versus the Biblical Tree of Life

It is argued that Darwin appears to have been more interested in the extent to which mechanisms that can be studied in the present are both necessary, and sufficient, to explain events in the past, an approach that is interpreted as being learned from his geological background.

Punctuated equilibrium in fact and theory

Darwin's search for a theory of the earth: symmetry, simplicity and speculation

  • F. Rhodes
  • Geology
    The British Journal for the History of Science
  • 1991
1990 marked the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's first major scientific theory. The paper, first presented by Darwin to the Geological Society of London on 7 March 1838, was



Darwinism and the expansion of evolutionary theory.

An expanded hierarchical theory would not be Darwinism, has strictly defined, but it would capture, in abstract form, the fundamental feature of Darwin's vision--direction of evolution by selection at each level.

Is a New Evolutionary Synthesis Necessary?

The current (synthetic) theory of evolution has been criticized on the grounds that it implies that macroevolutionary processes (speciation and morphological diversification) are gradual, but microevolutionaries principles are compatible with both gradualism and punctualism; therefore, logically they entail neither.

The Modern Synthesis is Partly Wright

Gould (1980) claims that a “new and general theory of evolution” is emerging. He examines the modern synthesis and asserts that it is being rejected by present day evolutionary biologists. The

Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered

It is argued that virtually none of the examples brought forward to refute the model of punctuated equilibria can stand as support for phyletic gradualism; many are so weak and ambiguous that they only reflect the persistent bias for gradualism still deeply embedded in paleontological thought.

On the origin of the species by means of natural selection

One of the few revolutionary works of science that is engrossingly readable, "The Origin of Species" not only launched the science of modern biology but also has influenced virtually all subsequent literary, philosophical, and religious thinking.


  • N. Eldredge
  • Geology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1971
Since paleontologists have been successful in recognizing true "biospecies" on criteria which are as valid and complete as those used to differentiate the majority of recent species, a reappraisal of paleontological models of speciation is called for.

Palaeontological documentation of speciation in Cenozoic molluscs from Turkana Basin

These faunas provide the first fine-scaled palaeontological resolution of events during speciation: fundamental phenotypic transformation of both sexual and asexual taxa occurs rapidly, in comparatively large populations, and is accompanied by a significant elevation of phenotypesic variance.

But Not Wright Enough: Reply to Orzack

As The Blob, of Steve McQueen's greatest triumph, so amply demonstrated, the more you encompass the more formless you become. Orzack accuses me of construing the modern synthesis too narrowly in

Evolution and the diversity of life

This course will provide an introduction to the concepts and processes of biological evolution and consider the history of evolutionary thought, the scientific method, and creationism, intelligent design and evolution.

Address of the President Sir Andrew Huxley at the Anniversary Meeting, 30 November 1981

  • A. Huxley
  • Chemistry
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B. Biological Sciences
  • 1982
The Copley Medal is awarded to Dr P. D. Mitchell, F. R. S., in recognition of his formulation and development of the chemiosmotic hypothesis that energy released through the oxidation of food or the