Robots show randomness in evolution of language [View all]
By John Roach
Even if everything about different groups of animals is identical down to the level of their genes and physical surroundings, they can develop unique ways to communicate, according to an experiment done with robots that use flashing lights to "talk."
The Swiss researchers used the robots to get handle on why there is such diversity in communication systems within and between species, something that is difficult to do in living animals.
The answer, they found, "is contingencies in evolutionary history, i.e. stochasticity (randomness) in the occurrence order of new ... traits," Steffen Wischmann, a researcher in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Lausanne, told me in an email.