Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Caminalcules I

I could work on photosynthesis forever, but must move on to get another project started. One thing I have wanted is a creature that might serve as the basis for several different modules. So I whipped together these cute (OK I think they are cute) sculpties. What I had in mind was something like Joe Camin's famous Caminalcules, fanciful, but useful as a teaching tool.

If you are not familiar with Caminalcules here is a pretty good discussion of these little critters. My guys look more like ground beetles than the original Caminalcule but I think they will do for now. I wanted to keep them fairly small and yet large enough to see and manipulate. The blue rod in the picture is an SL meter, so these are pretty small. Any smaller and the scultpie's little legs don't show well. Besides this is a good size for students to manipulate in Second Life.

My first project with these guys is going to be real simple: Mendelian monohybrid and dihybrid crosses followed by linkage. But these guys could easily be used for natural selection or ecology and I have put together a little interface for selecting the sorts of crosses you might want to do, concentrating on monohybrid crosses. Students will be able to self them(they have the potential of being hermaphroditic) or cross them with another one.

Right now there are four color forms: white, grey and black controlled at a single locus with incomplete dominance, though I can adjust the level of dominance. The 4th color form is bright red and that is displayed when one senses a compatible mate. I knew there was a use for sensor functions somewhere!

They will have litters of up to 10 pups at a time. Not to worry- the pups will be genetically modified to be sterile so they won't overrun a region!

Now to write the genetics states and functions I need. Once this is done then I will add more colors and textures controlled by different loci and allow for mutation so there will be plenty of variation for natural selection. I may introduce some genetically based behaviors as well.

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