Nature’s Tipping Point ~ Red Queen, Tooth and Claw

Games are attractive, aren’t they? While not everyone is drawn magnetically to their charms, no matter how lovingly the little figures on the board are carved, or how gay the plumage of the various pieces, studying the rulebook can yield a lot of information about how the thing works.

Even Those who prefer ornithology might find the notion of note-taking on their observations delightful, and nature not only parades its varied plumage, but plays by some rules, too, as species evolve, to win the game of life. The feathers may fly, sometimes, in the fight for survival, but that’s how the game is played, and the rules, it turns out, are very simple to grasp.

Let’s have a look at how Game Theory comes into play in evolutionary strategy, with an example from the game played on the Galapagos Islands. The pieces on the board in this case are finches, so even the ornithologists who don’t like to be stuck indoors, when they could be out in the field, bird watching, might like this game.

Ask the ornithologist to read the Rulebook, to know how the Game’s played

It starts with two pieces (finches), and you win more as you go along (takes a while, ‘cos you have to wait for them to mate, and observe the proceeding generations as they evolve). What fun the game is then, as you notice the new pieces begin to change the game, as they develop new characteristics over time, and the game plays out, with the best players dominating the board. All the time, things edge towards chaos, but gravitate towards stability, in order for the species to live to fight another day, and play the game that goes on and on, until someone upsets the board, and all the pieces are thrown into chaos.

Mashup vid with a reading of John Gribbin’s book, “Deep Simplicity” chapter 6, “The Facts of Life” (turn the sound up a smidge at 2:17, and down a bit again, at 4:29, as the Red Queen was interfering slightly, as she loves to do)

Darn Red Queen is always getting her flippity flappity sleeves caught in the edges of chaos, so sometimes it’s just sensible to move the board out of her reach. Quite a nice island, this. Lots of birds about, beaches to swim on, and sandpiles galore, for the progeny to roll down. Splendid view, too, from the top, if you’re King of the Hill.

Video Sources:

Fish footage was from the BBC Earth YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/vewtmQ5xrtU

I also loved the sea birds chase, again from BBC Earth: https://youtu.be/zKzeMovBwL0

The Mourning doves fighting were from Ostdrossel’s video, here: https://youtu.be/D_06PqxJ4Ws

Then there were Greg Dill’s fighting cranes: https://youtu.be/XA_U9Siej08

There was nice footage of finches to be seen on Mogan Hallas’s Galapagos channel: https://youtu.be/9uZGSuOxFVM

…and from Latest Sightings channel, from which the fighting hawk bit came: https://youtu.be/XFR0wtyZCNk

The sand footage was from Manuel Meier’s channel: https://youtu.be/a7bX7T8lltI

…while the Bak Sandpile explanation was on Art Scott’s channel: https://youtu.be/NuSXOb0q8q0

(Per Bak wasn’t in my vid, but he’s so interesting I’m including this short clip of him speaking about Self Organised Criticality, so there)! https://youtu.be/ydt99BXi3YU

If, like me, you like a nice Trilobite, you’ll enjoy Ben G Thomas’s video: https://youtu.be/95RzyaNgiPM

Primer does lots of informative and fun animations, including the one on hawk/dove game theory: https://youtu.be/YNMkADpvO4w

Best of Science had nice stuff on evolution as well: https://youtu.be/G0UGpcea8Zg

You might have recognised the elderly guy enjoying his chess game as coming from Pixar Productions. That’s Geri: https://youtu.be/9IYRC7g2ICg

The Red Queen footage was straight from the Queen’s mouth, so to say, as it’s on Helena Bonholm Carter’s YouTube channel (or maybe just a fan chan). I bet she enjoyed playing that character: https://youtu.be/i_zhBLF1Fu0

One thought on “Nature’s Tipping Point ~ Red Queen, Tooth and Claw

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s