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June 1, 2010
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/*Edit: Now once the lines reach the end of the graph, the the population count will continue to work and the graph will shift to show the new data.*/

Intro: I started working on this simulation a few days ago and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm looking for feedback so if you have anything to say about it, please share!

Goal: I think that evolution and natural selection are simple yet powerful concepts that are often misunderstood. The idea for the project is to make a clear and engaging simulation that shows the principles of natural selection in action.

For now, I just want to get this thing out on the web for feedback, so I'm not going to go into a big explanation about it. Here's the basics:

Evolution by natural selection:

Evolution is defined by a change in gene frequency over time. In the blue field in the simulation lives one circular, gray colored animal. The animal has a 6 character, hexidecimal code (e.g. 00FF00) that determines its color. The color code represents the genetic code that determines the structure of organisms.

Evolution happens because of the following four reasons:

1. Individuals vary. The animals in my simulation reproduce asexually, i.e. they clone themselves. But every once in a while a mutation occurs: one of the 6 characters is altered and the cloned critter is a different color from its parent. The different colors represent the genetic variation given in any animal population.

2. Some of that variation is heritable. The critters keep their color and pass it on to their offspring. The critters with mutations will then clone themselves, along with their mutations.

3. Not all of the individuals who are born will survive. Some will die and leave less offspring in the next generation. At the beginning of the simulation, the critters will grow at an exponential rate. But eventually they will start facing more challenges in their environment. Some will not survive these challenges. (Those will say: "challenge failed" and die).

4. Survival and reproduction are not totally random. Individuals with genes that give them advantages in their environment will leave more children than those without those advantages. Those are the genes that will be selected for. The frequency of advantageous genes will increase. That's evolution.

In the simulation, the environment can be either red, green or blue. By default, it's blue. In this simulation, the closer a critter is to the background color, the more likely they are to survive being "challenged" Eventually, less advantageous colors die out. By the time you finish reading this (if you loaded the simulation but didn't change any settings), you may notice that the percentage of blue critters is on the rise. (If not, keep it open, check on it in a few minutes). Eventually the population will change to be mostly blue.

That's it! I'm geeking out, but does anyone else think that's cool?

Please Please Please let me know what you think! :D

Also, you can play with the buttons. You can add more of the critters by clicking the little buttons on the bottom left. You can change the 'environment' by clicking the colored squares. And please click the 'Toggle Population Graph' button. That shows you a graph of the population size, including the number of individuals whose color code is very close to the extremes of either red, green or blue.

(blog post here)
Add a Comment:
 
:iconagv120395:
AGV120395 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014
AWESOME!!!
it's so simple and very acurate, I friggin' love it

need to share
Reply
:iconisaacs-collar:
Isaacs-Collar Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Like Inkshaft-Alchemist, I think it'd be an awesome tool explaining mutations and natural selection and such in classes, or even to younger kids. I found this just a week before starting my biology class. And I'm glad I found it, because I remember this for the natural selectiony part of the class and I breezed through it. 

I love it Love 
Reply
:iconinkshaft-alchemist:
Inkshaft-Alchemist Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wish I found this earlier when my biology class was learning about it. Would have been cool to show in class.
Reply
:iconbudcharles:
BudCharles Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012
OMFG this is epic :D
Reply
:iconfirelord-zuko:
firelord-zuko Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This is absolutely marvellous.
Reply
:icon1account:
1account Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012
how do i beat the game? and is there leaderboards?
Reply
:iconinvaderpucca:
InvaderPucca Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Student Digital Artist
*facepalm*
Reply
:iconurbanfurest:
UrbanFurest Featured By Owner May 26, 2012
Very interesting, while simple, I get the idea of "all things being equal". It would be cool if the concepts of resources, and competition and mutualism could be factored in.
Reply
:iconbeadeddragon600:
BeadedDragon600 Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
does "challenge fail" mean they die?does "mutation" mean a new one is made?
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Professional Filmographer
yes, the challenge fail means that they die. With every step, each critter has some random chance of dying from a challenge. The more critter's color matches the background, the more likely they are to survive the challenge.

If a critter is born with a different color than its parent critter, then that is a mutation. Not all the critters born have a mutation, but there's some chance every time a critter is born.

Does that make sense?

Thanks for all the favs btw!! :eager:
Reply
:iconbeadeddragon600:
BeadedDragon600 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
yes,it makes sense! I couldnt resist faving most of your super awesome work!!!:D
Reply
:iconwildzyria:
WildZyria Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wahhh! Some black ones popped out!!... ninjas
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2012  Professional Filmographer
lol :)
Reply
:iconlisharelle:
Lisharelle Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2011  Student Digital Artist
IŽd like to see some abiotic and biotic factors in the future :)
But very good job indeed. It visualizes clearly under which circumstances the gene pool of a population changes.
Reply
:iconmumblingrain:
mumblingRain Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I noticed how the blue ones that had mutated into pink ones started dying when I put on the red environment. But the pink ones mutated to slight reddisher colours. VEry interesting
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2011  Professional Filmographer
hmmmm. yeah, there is a fair bit of chance involved, so even if a critter is a close match for the environment, they might still not make it. Or maybe the pink ones were too 'purple-blue' pink compared to a reddish pink ...

anyhoo, thanks for playing!! :D
Reply
:iconkmathel94:
kmathel94 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2011  Hobbyist
Epic!
Reply
:iconjayendor:
Jayendor Featured By Owner May 13, 2011
Haha! I've had this running for over an hour... i come around every ten minutes or so to switch the environment and watch them all challenge fail and then mutate :P it's awesome! :D
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner May 20, 2011  Professional Filmographer
haha sweet! thanks! :D I'm glad its fun! I'm working on a better version ... someday i'll put it up. :)
Reply
:iconsnowflower55:
SnowFlower55 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Can't say I agree with evolution, but man, this is awesome!
Reply
:icononeintheinfinite:
oneintheinfinite Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
:noes:Mother nature you cruel bitch I like the color red!
...and that's why we have cloning :D

This is awesome work it's like watching natural selection over large period of time.
Reply
:iconcoocachew:
Coocachew Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
I love this! I'm studying evolution and natural selection in Biology right now, and this really demonstrates how that works. Very educational and fun!
Reply
:iconandy120290:
Andy120290 Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2011
Now this is just plain neat to watch. Really interesting way of explaining natural selection in a rather simple way!
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2011  Professional Filmographer
Thanks! :D I'm glad you enjoyed it! And thanks for commenting! I really want to make another version with critters with different body plans and movements, where the player can alter the environment and watch different species evolve in different conditions. Wouldn't that be neat?? :)
Reply
:iconzagazo:
Zagazo Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2011
That would be completely awesome! I'm having fun throwing in dozens of blue ones then switching the environment to red. You did a really amazing job on this, by the way!
Reply
:iconazuis:
Azuis Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010
I find this quite awesome! Good work hlarkin! ^_^
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010  Professional Filmographer
excellent! Thanks a lot! :D
Reply
:icononurbm:
Onurbm Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010
very interesting as straightforward enough to be understood.
maybe i should translate explanations in french and german for reuse.

need your agreement for that.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Professional Filmographer
sure, please do! :) I'm glad you liked it. If you translate, please show me. :)
Reply
:iconmarmot-of-doom:
Marmot-of-Doom Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's really funny to make them die XD
Just kidding, but you made it very well :+fav:
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Thanks! Yah, that is fun ^___^
Reply
:iconeonorteashadowmaster:
EonOrteaShadowmaster Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010  Student Writer
This is incredible! Long live science!!!
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Here Here! :D Thanks!
Reply
:icondahakka:
Dahakka Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2010  Professional Filmographer
:D this is quite amazing, i can feel my inner geek kicking at me from the inside fighting to get out, although the concept is quite simple the representations for the state of the organisms and habitat work well, i love how you still have mutations even in say a blue environment with enough time to stabilise to it, this works the same in all living organisms so that if there is a sudden change in the environment, say to green (or for the earths atmosphere to contain higher oxygen levels; such as in the primitive bacteria that colonised the earth in its early years) the 'unnecessarily' mutated organisms may be the right match and will then begin to reproduce more successfully. does this model have a chance to show total extinction? it really puts a spark behind the idea that "the universe is only the way it is because if it where any different we would not be around to see it".

ill end this geek out with; i would like to apply this idea to mass and gravitation and see if i can simulate matter forming to planets, suns and hopefully solar systems using newtonian mechanics. although how, im not to sure.
Reply
:icontheload:
TheLOAD Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010
Completely disregard my previous comment. I now notice that the mutations don't always go to the background colors. It's so weird. The first seven I did this they did? :shrug:
Reply
:iconeonorteashadowmaster:
EonOrteaShadowmaster Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010  Student Writer
Disregard that last comment, I didn't see your earlier one.
Reply
:iconeonorteashadowmaster:
EonOrteaShadowmaster Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010  Student Writer
Mutations are random. But only good mutations prosper.
Reply
:icontheload:
TheLOAD Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2010
It's good but could use one slight improvement. The mutations always go to the color of the background. In reality, some mutations wouldn't match the environment.
Reply
:iconmissingyoumore:
MissingYouMore Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010
This is great. Really.

You are AWESOME 8D !!
Reply
:iconkaikikuro:
kaikikuro Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
This is really fun, and really informative. I love evolution games.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010  Professional Filmographer
I'm glad you thought so!! :D Hopefully I'll have a new version soon that's clearer ...
Reply
:iconfake-leon:
fake-leon Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010
Wow!
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Professional Filmographer
I agree, I would enjoy putting predators and prey (plant or animal) into the system and see what happens. Like if some mutate into predators and the number of predators skyrockets, the crashes as their prey evaporates.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Hey ESDA! Long time no see! How are things going?

I think some predator-prey action would be cool too. I will definitely work on that. I was thinking also that the prey could be dependent on some autotrophs and the autotrophs could get their energy from the "sun." A full on food web! The circle of life! :)
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Definitely would be intriguing. I adore evolution-simulators. We were actually trying to work out how the breeding mechanic in our flash-based game would work and I was trying to figure out a way to include recessive and dominant genes within an avatar's "DNA" so that they could throw odd babies occasionally (this expresses itself in colors and markings only). And also to prevent the population from turning into a muddled, muddy colored mess. I've seen a few other pet-programs that encounter that problem quite a bit. I think the game I found that accomplished solid, multi-generational mixing was "Petz" (the original, not the crap version that EA puts out now).
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2010  Professional Filmographer
You're working on a game? That's great! I'll be on the lookout for it when it's done ... If you are looking for help, let me know :) Playing god is *so* much fun ...

MWA HA HA!
Reply
:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Well right now we got most our art assets done, but animators are always something I'm keeping a lookout for. If we end up needing a few more, I'll certainly consider your offer.
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2010  Professional Filmographer
ok, sounds good. good luck!
Reply
:iconchechimarquez:
ChechiMarquez Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2010
muahahaha. I am a god! XD nah, just kidding but it is really interesting to watch them all get a certain color, lets say green and then change the environment between blue and red. That and watching the graph is also awesome, I never thought evolution could be so cool to watch XD

btw, do the critters reproduce asexually only? haven't watched them close enough, cause it will be interesting to see the results of sexual reproduction too, specially between diffrerent colored critters
Reply
:iconlarkinheather:
larkinheather Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Haha I'm very happy you liked watching the graph. :D Mission accomplished. ^_^

Right now, the critters only reproduce asexually. I thought that would be best for demonstrating natural selection / evolution.

But I am thinking of doing a more complex version where they evolve into more complex organisms ... and there will be sexual reproduction ... so you'll see organisms with colors/bodyparts/behaviors that are a mix of the colors/bodyparts/behaviors of their parents. Anyway... that's for later ...
Reply
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