In early 2015, scientists found a type of deep-sea bacteria off the coast of Australia that haven’t shown evidence of change in approximately 2.3 billion (yes, billion) years. This threw some people for a loop.
When we’re taught to believe that organisms are constantly changing within their environments, how could this be possible? Doesn’t this defy everything we’ve learned about evolution?
There’s a caveat here, and an interesting one at that: the environment that these bacteria reside in is incredibly stable. Temperature, nutrients, ecosystem. All of the conditions supporting the life of these organisms has remained relatively unchanged.
The theory of evolution suggests that living organisms adapt to their environments to optimize chances of survival. If sulfur bacteria have refined their biological methods to perfectly suit their surroundings, would they need to?
In Emergence, Digital Diatom allows the user to manipulate the environmental conditions. Water levels, inorganic nutrients and other factors can be altered. By doing so, interactions between the organism, its environment and other living species will also change. It is these interactions that are the cause of evolutionary shifts in the game, and eventually, the creation of species that are observable to the participant.
The interesting thing here is that the behind-the-scenes workings of the simulation allow for an accurate depiction of how evolution occurs. In other words, the evolution observable within the game is ‘real.’
So here poses the question: If the conditions in Emergence remained the same, would the organism follow suit?
You should probably test for yourself.