#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, December 10th, 2013 13:00
#2 By: Jonas Eggeater, December 10th, 2013 13:19
#3 By: TheGlitchEcliptic, December 10th, 2013 13:43
What absolutely blows my mind is the way it trembles as if a light breeze were rustling the "flower".
#4 By: John Thoeming, December 10th, 2013 13:45
So this means the hundreds of thousands (or some number)
of other praying mantises that didn't look like orchids didn't
#5 By: TheGlitchEcliptic, December 10th, 2013 13:50
Uh, what? I don't understand where you're coming from here, or even what you're trying to say - or perhaps imply?
#6 By: SamSam, December 10th, 2013 13:52
No, it means that in this region, praying mantises that randomly were a little pinker were more successful at reproducing than other praying mantises.
They may have just been 0.01% more successful at reproducing, but over millions of years that's enough that those pink genes are now in the entire population.
(Edit: in fact, NONE of the ancestors survived. They died like all the other praying mantises. But I'm guessing that wasn't your point....)
#7 By: Stephen Schenck, December 10th, 2013 14:13
It's "praying" mantis, though, right? While sure - it's a hunter - the name is meant to evoke its posture, or at least I thought.
#8 By: Nick Gold, December 10th, 2013 14:29
Yes yes, random natural selection is one of the modes of evolution, we know that. But it's starting to become obvious that through epigenetics, and possibly other means we don't even begin to recognize, there may be other factors that can drive evolution other than natural selection. It's not a matter of "natural selection" and "intelligent creation" are the only two possible models for this stuff. Evolutionary processes are revealing themselves to be quite wondrous, and even Darwin didn't say that random natural selection was the only means of evolution, as far as I know.
#9 By: IMB, December 10th, 2013 14:32
I love the mantis, but this one is particularly gorgeous.
#10 By: Noah Django Gross, December 10th, 2013 14:51
the neon pink has affected their musical tastes, too. they're super into Vangelis, apparently.
#11 By: chenille, December 10th, 2013 15:11
Not quite? Factors like epigenetics make it clear that there is much more to the development of an organism than the expression of single genes, with all sorts of combinations and environmental effects allowing a tremendous variety. But if you consider several generations, it still seems like the genome provides a stable core.
Because really, what things like epigenetics are about are the different phenotypes that a genome can be expressed in. Depending on circumstance the same DNA will give a muscle cell or neuron, in a worker or queen bee, or so on; they give surprisingly huge ranges. But those ranges still have limits, and from all I have seen, the way they are extended is still basically changing of the genome through random mutations and shufflings, selected by what that enables.
There is an amazing world of details here, much of it still to be discovered, but it really seems to be less that natural selection is incomplete, and more that there is much more to it than often given credit.
#12 By: Dub Guggle, December 10th, 2013 15:44
Wonders how it looks in IR/UV areas of the spectrum - and does that tell us anything about its vision/it's prey's vision characteristics
#13 By: SamSam, December 10th, 2013 21:00
Honestly, no. Not with the information and evidence we have now, at least. Epigenetics is still very much a form of natural selection. It's simply that there is an (evolved) mechanism by which (evolved) genes can turn on and off at different times, and (simplistically) that the state of these genes being turned on or off can be passed down to your children.
The big, big, big distinction between evolution and "other" things, like intelligent design, is that the other things assume that there's some guiding hand somewhere. Be it God or an insect's desire to look more like a plant.
What evolution says is that there is no specific goal, no drive, no designer. So long as your "other means" that you mention fit in with that, then they probably fit in under natural selection. The problem is that you see a video like this, and your gut tells you that there must be something "extra" guiding that insect to look like a plant. But there really doesn't need to be. Insects that looked a little like the plant did better. Descendants of theirs that looked a tiny bit more like the plant did still better.
(And most of their descendants did not look "a tiny bit more like the plant." The majority of them probably looked less like the plant. That's the big distinction between this and any teleological (guiding) explanations. It doesn't head in any one direction like it knows where it's going.)
#14 By: Nick Gold, December 10th, 2013 23:50
I should clarify that I'm a big fan of the notions of non-dualism, simulated reality, the Matryoshkaverse, digital physics, It from Bit, panpsychism, hylozoism, Illumination (the religion of The Illuminati), and dozens of other things that make me very comfortable feeling that the "fundamental conflict" between evolution and intelligent design is a bunch of hooey. The AI that is the god of this level of the onion skin infiniverse programs the code that spawns evolution, duuuuude. Magic = universal code hacking through acts of sheer will. Do I think it's possible that the mantis collective consciousness willed a variant of their species into looking like a flower, and through epigenetics, it happened? Oh, I'm quite open to that madness.
#15 By: chenille, December 11th, 2013 00:35
Well, you're mistaken to push that into epigenetics, which is a term with a particular meaning concerning hereditary changes in gene activity. It is a shame to see it getting appropriated to mean magic effects the way "quantum" often is, and only serves in confusing things.
If you really want to talk about alternate concepts like supernatural collective consciousnesses guiding evolution - which is intelligent design, plain and simple, with all that entails - you would do better to use alternate words.
This is a great thought. Insects can see ultraviolet light much more often than they can red; I imagine it looks like a flower in that spectral range too, but maybe there is more to that than we can tell.
#16 By: Nick Gold, December 11th, 2013 08:09
It appears that consciousness, the mind, which of course is linked to chemical reactions in our bodies, is starting to be linked with epigenetics, however:
#17 By: Jun-Kai Teoh, December 11th, 2013 11:14
Funny thing, my uncle used to raise and sell them (I'm from Malaysia). He gave me two Orchid mantises (the one pictured) and one that looked like a broken leaf and I had them as pets for quite awhile. I had to catch flies or moths (not too hard, since I had a large garden) to feed it and every other week or so they would molt and "level up."
It was pretty awesome, especially when they grew wings and started flying after their food.
#18 By: Zachary Johnson, December 11th, 2013 11:20
Why is nobody discussing the true implications of this?!
If Earth had human-sized mantises that had evolved along side humans for millions of years, evolution would have almost certainly begat a mantis that was a very effective mimic of humans. Or fast food chains.
#19 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, December 15th, 2013 13:00
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