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Summary: Punctuated Equilibrium



Thanks to everyone who replied off-list to my question about
Punctuated Equilibrium.  Here, as promised, is a summary of the
responses.

First of all, several people including Tom Holtz pointed out that PE
is definitely not a preservational artifact:

        [PE] was first really recognized by Eldredge & Gould [...]
        when they tested morphological change against well-calibrated
        geologic sections in the Devonian of New York and the late
        Cenozoic of the Caribbean, respectively.  These morphological
        jumps were traditionally interepreted as representing gaps in
        the record, but better dating techniques had shown that the
        gaps at the morphological breaks were no larger than those
        within the periods of stasis, and furthermore were shorter
        than the stasis periods as a whole.

Secondly, various people including Stephan Pickering pointed me at The
PE "Bible", which is:

        Stephen Jay Gould, 2002. The structure of evolutionary theory
        (Harvard University Press).

However, it weight in at 1433 pages(!) so that's rather more
intimidating than I'd had in mind.  It contains a complete history,
explanation, and comparative analysis PE, and of course a bibliography
including all the major papers.

David Marjanovic also gave me this reference, which says is "not
written for paleontologists or statisticians, so it is probably
popular enough" :-)

        Michael J. Benton & Paul N. Pearson: Speciation in the fossil
        record, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (aka TREE) 16(7) Special
        issue: Speciation (July 2001)

Pete Dunkelberg pointed out that:

        One thing PE can't be is an artifact of a poor fossil record.
        To show a long period of stasis requires a good record.  To
        show a relatively quick change requires a good record showing
        that the stasis continues right up to the quick change.

And included a couple of on-line references:
        http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/punc-eq.html
        http://www.skeptic.com/01.3.prothero-punc-eq.html
        http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~lindsay/creation/horner.html

I think that's enough to be getting on with :-)

Thanks again to all who responsed, and apologies to anyone who I've
omitted to name.

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor   <mike@miketaylor.org.uk>   www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "C++ is biased toward programmers who think for themselves"
         -- Koening & Moo, "Ruminations on C++"