The trick is not to label your axes too much

Some notes:

  • There are some great videos on swarming behaviour of animals. Here are just two quick examples: a starling murmuration and a school of tuna.
  • Segmentation stripes are formed in the first hours of a fly’s development. They are the molecular markers that give rise to the actual body segments of a fly.
  • More generally speaking, early development in the fruit fly (official species name Drosophila melanogaster) is a well-studied topic. See for instance this beautiful video and check out this “cyberspace guide”.
  • Paulien Hogeweg already mentioned this challenge of understanding how complex rules generate complex dynamics several years ago as we were chatting.
  • The figure was made with Matplotlib using the XKCD look.


  1. Renske

    Hey Anton,

    Nice blog!
    Do you have any idea yet on what to tackle in the upper right corner, and how?

    Cheers 😉

  2. antonc

    What: many biological systems seem complicated in their dynamics. Take gastrulation, formation of the brain, evolution of the uterus, gain and loss of memory, courtship behaviour, etc. Yet I would not know if any of these fall within the upper right corner as we do not yet know the rules 😉 Perhaps eukaryotic gene regulation is an example of the upper-right corner?

    How: we’ll need many approaches, both experimental and theoretical, to give us different views on a system of interest. I would advocate to use or develop your method according to the research questions one has—and not to fall into the trap of “if all you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail”.

    Great question, thanks!

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