Cicadas spend 7, 13, or 17 years, depending on the species, underground before emerging as adults for the final weeks of their lives.
Recently, Goles et al.
investigated the selective forces that might have led to these
prime-number life cycles. They produced spatiotemporal simulations of
predator-prey cycles using cellular automata to yield periodicities of
13 and 17, indicating the selective optima for cicadas
escaping predators. In this unexpected alliance of biology and number
theory, the results suggest that these models have properties that
favor the generation of prime numbers. -- AMS
Complexity 6, 33 (2001).
Issue of 13 Jul 2001,
Copyright © 2001 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.