Thursday, May 17, 2007

The life cycle of a chess colony

Chess colonies are black, though the albino variation is almost as common. The individuals have a roughly cylindrical segmented body plan. The queen is the largest and strongest member of the colony. She deposits her eggs in a special sack in her mate, the drone or "king." There they are fertilized and carried until they hatch. (This resembles the reproductive behavior of seahorses, which chess colonies are distantly related to.) Since the king is loaded with the eggs, he cannot move very quickly and the colony acts to defend him. If the king dies, the colony will quickly follow.
An egg hatches into a larval stage called a "pawn." These larvae are slow moving and spread outward from the colony, foraging for food. When they have grown large enough, depending on the local environmental conditions, they will mature into one of the specialized forms, including three warrior forms in addition to the queen and king already mentioned. Each of these forms has a distinctive head shape and movement behaviors.
These colonies are very territorial and will viciously attack other colonies they come into contact with, until they have killed the king.

*Japanese and Chinese chess colonies have somewhat different behaviors and life cycles.


mike said...

I was daydreaming today about an agent-based approach to the game Go, where you specify simple local rules and get emergent behaviour, somewhere between ants and cellular automata. Fun that your post was so relevant!

D said...

I'd like to see that. I was reading about attempts to create life from scratch. They plan to use fat globules that automatically split off into new "cells" when they get too large. It's very similar to cellular automata that simulate chemical reactions (reaction-diffusion systems).