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Biomorphs

Biomorphs (or BiomorphBounce) are lifelike forms that have the shape, determined by they "genome" that can be as simple as a vector of integers.

Evolution of the biomorph that has the "genome" of eight integer "genes". Eight of the genes can take on eleven different states, and another can take on five different states, resulting a total of 1,071,794,405 different biomorphs. The gene values are shown in the top.

The shape of the biomorph is determined by converting the "genome code" into drawing, following some agreed rules. The numeric value of each integer ("gene") changes in time between some minimum and maximum[1]. Each gene has its own speed of change (the mutation rate) that is randomly set at the program start.

The genes can control[2]:

  • the overall shape of the biomorph,
  • the depth of recursion,
  • the colour of the biomorph (not used in the applet of this article)
  • the number of segmentations,
  • the size of the separation of the segments,
  • the shape used to draw the biomorph (oval, rectangle, line, etc).

Biomorph code is not similar to DNA code at low level (DNA contains only four different nucleotides) but its genes are similar to some real genes at higher level. Various mutations in less critical regions can gradually reduce or increase the impact of the gene, varying this value very much like the the integer value of the biomorph "gene" drifts.

Biomorph evolution is a random "evolution", without component of selection. It demonstrates the development of complexity of pure randomness as opposed to that of randomness coupled with cumulative selection. Biomorph shows what a wide variety of forms is possible even with a very limited genome - it is possible to see forms that look like insects, trees, letters and so on. Also, they demonstrate how an accumulation of changes turns one form into a quite different form, even when each individual change is very small.

Biomorphs were first described by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and first presented to the world in his book The Blind Watchmaker[3] (this is how the author dubbed the process of the evolution).

References

  1. 1 Scott Maxwell (1998)Scott Maxwell (1998) http://home.pacbell.net/s-max/scott/biobounce.html
  2. 2 Mark Jones (2001) http://www.phy.syr.edu/courses/mirror/biomorph/
  3. 3 Richard Dawkins (1986). The blind watchmaker. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc ISBN 0-393-31570-3.