The Richard Dawkins Mutation Challenge
Learn how point mutations contribute to evolution by crossing swords with legendary evolutionary guru Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University. See how quickly and easily evolution can come up with new genetic information as you battle the master at his own game! Here are the rules:
YOU: You have to change just two measly codons that each code for one amino acid into two other codons that each code for a different amino acid. Nothing special - it's just the kind of thing that evolution does every day. We will even let you win if you evolve to any codons that represent your target amino acids.
PROFESSOR DAWKINS: Will repeat his justly famous tour-de-force in The Blind Watchmaker and evolve a bunch of "X"'s into the famous phrase "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL". That involves overcoming the incredible odds of 1 in 26 to the power of 23 (not counting the spaces!!!). AND the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science will only mutate when you do so. At each of your mutation events he will change the letters he has not got right. But beware - Dawkins did not get where is today by accident. He is renowned for moving swiftly and deftly through evolution-space, and will doubtless prove a worthy opponent! Think you can take him? Don't bet on it.
THE OBJECTIVE: If you can get to your target amino acids before Dawkins evolves his phrase you win. You will be relying on single point mutations to do your work - just like in the real world. Let the battle commence!
Your lineage begins with a single asexually reproducing organism that leaves one descendent. This pattern is repeated for all generations thereafter. All prior mutations are preserved in your lineage. You can select the number of generations per year - from one per year to one every 20 minutes.
We will track the number of generations and time you are taking to mutate. In the case of time, we figure out how long ago you would have to start to end up at your current mutation today. Your mutation rate will be the naturally observed mutation rate.
NOTE: We will randomly assign you one lethal and one deleterious amino acid in an attempt to simulate the possible damaging effects that mutations are sometimes thought to cause. However, neither will end the game for you.
JUST RELEASED - The Richard Dawkins Human Evolution Revolution. You will be in a race to complete the gene for Philosophy in our remote ancestors. See if you can beat Professor Dawkins as he strives to generate their gene for musical expression! Feel the power as you mutate 100 million lineages of anthropoids, 1000 generations at a time! Click here to begin this exciting simulation.


COMING SOON Bored at work? Time on your hands? Try the Richard Dawkins Protein Builder. Build an important fully functional protein with the Grand Master of Mutation himself! Along the way Professor Dawkins will offer mutation tips from his own experience - and you will learn some surprising strategies for your own evolutionary scenarios!
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