Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Computerized" Lizard Scales

The jewled lacerta, also known as the ocellated lizard, is being studied by scientists because of its scale patterns. These lizards are born with brown bodies and white polka dots, become black and bright green as it ages, and finally is either all black or all green at sexual maturity. Depending on the habitat, the lizard will flip between black and green. This switch is what scientists say “unfold like a computer simulation” (Yin, 2017). A genetics professor from University of Geneva compares the changing scales to a cellular automaton. Cellular automaton is a computer rule-based model. Scientists are testing if this cellular automaton is a genetic or environmental trait.

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