Plus Advent Calendar Door #2: How did the leopard get its spots?

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And how the zebra its stripes and the giraffe its patches?

Perhaps surprisingly it was Alan Turing, better known as the father of modern computer science and WWII codebreaker, who came up with a simple mathematical model to describe how the uniform ball of cells that make up an embryo differentiate to create the dramatic patterns we see on animal coats and skins. The model also explains why there are spotty animals with stripy tails, but no stripy animals with spotty tails!

To find out more, read How the leopard got its spots!

Return to the Plus advent calendar 2019.