catastrophism

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catastrophism

the thesis that fossil beds represented catastrophic MASS EXTINCTIONS so that the fossil record showed a series of separate creations, each followed by a mass mortality. Held largely in the 18th and 19th centuries, this idea lost support with the development of evolutionary theory in the 20th century.
Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005