Punctuated Equilibria: A Universal Pattern in Life and Culture

Sunday, February 17, 2013
Room 203 (Hynes Convention Center)
Nathalie L. Gontier , University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Punctuated equilibria theory describes a pattern of evolution: long periods of stasis are intermitted by short periods of rapid change. This pattern, first observed in the fossil record, appears to be universal. It has been detected in extant species on a molecular level, in the cultural dispersal of artifacts, and in the historical dispersal of certain language families. We will investigate which mechanisms underlie the pattern of punctuated equilibria in both biological and cultural evolution.