Crazy Creationists Unleashed #3

By Brendan Moyle 11/11/2010 9

Hoping that everybody has recovered from the last foray into the crazy world of creationism, this is another mirthful assertion from @joecienkowski

punctuated equilibrium

Hmm. Wow. That’s just stupid. Really stupid and wrong. This has nothing to do at all with punctuated equilibrium. The fossil evolutionary record shows that the modern-bird went through many transitional forms. Feathers appeared relatively early on- before the origin of flight. The adaptations to flight occurred gradually.

This does speak to some of the misconceptions about punctuated equilibrium by creationists. The key point behind punctuated equilibrium is that radiation events occur very rapidly in geological time [1]. So there could be long periods where species remain largely unchanged, and then rapid radiation events. In practical terms this means that transitional fossils will be difficult (but not impossible) to find given the short time frames of these radiations and the low probability an organism will fossilise.

Punctuated equilibrium however, is not a revolutionary challenge to the theory of evolution. As Gould notes: “I am not saying that punctuated equilibrium is the only mode of speciation. As with all major issues in natural history, support for punctuated equlibrium relies upon an argument about relative frequency, not a claim for exclusivity. Gradual, phyletic transformation can and does occur” p137 [1]

In short, it is a theory that says a new species could (but not always) evolve rapidly, say over 50,000-100,000 years. And it certainly does not entail or require large, sudden morphological changes.


Gould, S. J. (1982). “Punctuated Equilibrium–A Different Way of Seeing,” New Scientist 94 (April 15): 137-141.

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