Punctuated EquilibriaThe Problem of PaleospeciesPaleontologists have to recognize species from their fossil remains. The problem of "What is a paleospecies?" led Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould to propose the theory of punctuated equilibria. The term "paleospecies" makes explicit the distinction between the classification of species from fossil remains and the process of recognizing species in modern populations. This problem involves geology, taphonomy, taxonomy, and -- though often ignored -- geography.Mayr's Biological Species Concept uses the criterion of reproductive isolation to distinguish species in modern populations. Paleontologists who pursue taxonomic endeavors (which includes most of them) have to classify their finds generally based upon morphological features. The rareness of preservation of tissues containing DNA, or even of soft tissues, limits the range of diagnostic characters which may be utilized. The paleontologist has no access to such information. (Whether modern biologists really do have access to that information is a matter of
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