Natural selection is a mechanism of evolution that leads to adaptations in species or populations. Phenotypes confer habitat-specific fitness consequences, which could lead to the evolution of similar strategies (convergence) or different strategies (divergence) within and across species. The evolution of communication is an example of convergent evolution in many cases. We describe a learning game that simulates the emergence of language and highlights differences between convergent and divergent evolution. With minor modifications, this game can also be used to illustrate phenotypic plasticity. During three preliminary trials, high school and university students representing different species developed novel strategies (languages) to solve the common problem of finding “Garrett,” a student who mimicked an essential resource. Naturally, there was a range of complexity and diversity among the strategies that emerged. We describe how the game can help illustrate evolutionary principles such as adaptation and natural selection.
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Vol. 77 • No. 8