Speciation and bursts of evolution
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s12052-008-0049-4
A longstanding debate in evolutionary biology concerns whether species diverge gradually through time or by rapid punctuational bursts at the time of speciation. The theory of punctuated equilibrium states that evolutionary change is characterised by short periods of rapid evolution followed by longer periods of stasis in which no change occurs. Despite years of work seeking evidence for punctuational change in the fossil record, the theory remains contentious. Further there is little consensus as to the size of the contribution of punctuational changes to overall evolutionary divergence. Here we review recent developments which show that punctuational evolution is common and widespread in gene sequence data.