External Awareness

Information Transfer between Environment to Organism

The life of any organism largely consists of dealing with the outside world where things they need, like food and mates, as well as things that threaten them, are found. Organisms have evolved to receive and perceive whatever aspects of the environment sufficed, in its ancestry, for survival. There is no one way to do this, and the sources of "information" in the environment are diverse.

One important characteristic of many vital aspects of the environment is that the organism cannot know what they will be like in advance. It cannot be genetically programmed or "hard-wired" to handle unpredictable stimuli or signals. Instead, a diversity of mechanisms has evolved that enable organisms to respond to the events they need to in order to survive, seek food and mates, and so on.

Animals use some aspects of the environment that are largely predictable, such as gravity or magnetism. Other aspects are more truly open-ended. They include sounds, lights, and chemical components. Many intriguing, and sometimes closely related, means have evolved to receive input from these environmental stimuli and resources, and turn it into useful information. Examples of the responses are phototropism in plants, or vision, olfaction, and hearing in animals.

Yet, not all organisms respond to all signals that might be useful to them, and we will consider why that is so.

Genetics and the Logic of Evolution, by Kenneth M. Weiss and Anne V. Buchanan. ISBN 0-471-23805-8 Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Chapter 12

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