Genetic Study via Virtual Pets and Plants

A pair of Meeroos on a farm in Second Life.

Can the virtual world SL breedable pets such as  Meeroos and breedable plants such as Sibotanicals provide some opportunities to learn about biological and botanical genetics?  The breedables are an amusing addition to the virtual setting, as the scripting progresses, the concepts of DNA and genetic code have a potential for instruction.

A plant that can be propagated in the virtual world.

According to a Meeroo blog, these virtual creatures “… have genetic roots that have the potential to reach back centuries into Meeroo DNA…. the variance of that genetic pool is vast, meaning a single Meeroo will almost never have a genetic clone.”

A friend in Second Life, who happens to have a background in biology, has “bred” some dragons, more fun than fruit-flies and possibly as instructional.  The dragons have variations in scale color, eye color, wing style and some even have two heads.

Checking out a two-headed dragon at the Dragon farm.

I’m told that the scripting and variables in some breedables is more random than in others,  with a little development with a teaching  objective in mind, potential for learning is solid.

The educators who run Genome Island on Second Life have developed an entire island where students and interested individuals can study genetics.  The island includes a location to explore inheritance in cats, bunnies, and sweet peas.  Thought the animals and flowers are not quite as artistically developed as the made for fun Meeroos and other pet animals, the genetic concepts are clearly demonstrated.

Cats on Genome Island used for genetic teaching and learning.

The garden at Genome Island

Genome island includes models and interactive activities for inheritance patterns, molecular genetics, human genetics, bacterial and Drosophila genetics, population genetics and  a mix of exhibits with animal models, and a Garden of Prokaryote Genomes.

4 comments on “Genetic Study via Virtual Pets and Plants

  1. Thank you for your link to Binc, and I was happy to find your blog via that. Many breedables in sl have some type of genetic linkage in the creations background, others are more based on luck or simply colour development. Some breedables of course put more work into developing genetics than others. I find it fascinating that there is such an educational aspect to breeding ai pets and also the way some creators are using this to benefit endangered species or raise money through fundraising.
    Have you looked into EcoGen? Genome Island brings that particular company to mind.

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