< Speciation

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Does this mean the bacteria evolved into a new species, that they passed on acquired characteristics, or what?

"Species" is a pretty vague concept when it comes to bacteria, since they can reproduce individually. You can't use the "able to interbreed" defintion. Bacteriologists usually prefer "strain", which implies some significant trait such as whether or not it causes disease, or whether or not it is resistant to some antibiotic, whether it produces some protein, etc. One can use radiation to increase the mutation rate of bacteria cultures in a way that causes them to develop new traits that they would otherwise develop more slowly. (Except perhaps for Dinococcus radiodurans, whose primary trait is that it resists radiation damage!)

I'm not a biologist, but I felt like some description of the debate over punctuated equilibrium versus gradual speciation was appropriate. If an expert reads what I added and thinks it needs correction, please go for it!

Is speciation only the event of the creation of a new species as the result of one species separating into two or is it any event of the creation of a new species? At m-w.com it's defined as the process of biological species formation.

This bears on which variants of creationism accept or reject speciation. --Ed Poor

"Speciation" is not something that can be accepted or rejected--it's merely a term used to describe whatever events or processes lead to the creation of new species. If that's by God saying "poof--new species", then that's divine speciation. Scientists, of course, only use it to refer to speciations that they believe actually happen, by evolutionary means. The present text isn't very clear on that, but frankly, I'm not sure it's really a fit subject for an encyclopedia article--it's just a dictionary entry, really. --LDC

We could say "biologists believe" rather than "biologists generally believe" as the view is so nearly unanimous among them as to make disagreement negligible. Ed Poor