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Vaevictis Asmadi writes...

Greetings, Greg.
I've been waiting a while to post this.

This summer at my Grandma's house I watched a National Geographic Channel special called "The Science of Dogs." Do you get that channel? The scientists wanted to find out how dogs can be bred to look so different from one another, so they started sequencing DNA. They found out that all canids have certain sections of their genomes that mutate easily and rapidly, and can create large physical differences with only small mutations. Apparently other mammals don't have these genes. Because of this, dogs can be bred to look very different from wolves, while other domestic animals like cats and cows all look pretty much the same.
So it seems that "chameleon genes" (or "dog genes"?) already exist in real life! Though gargoyle variation is rather more dramatic than the differences between dog breeds. I think wolves and other wild canids all look the same as their siblings, despite their "chamelon genes," because each species is optimally adapted to a particular habitat and niche, and each individual needs to be as well-adapted as possible. I wonder why it is that gargoyles (and beasts), instead of all having the same adaptations to where and how they live, look so different from one another.
So I don't find the "chameleon gene" idea implausible. I think it is highly unusual but still biologically plausible. I also watched a nature show (long time ago) that included a segment about a plant in Hawaii which basically has exactly that. No two plants look alike, they can be anything from a tree to a tiny herb or weed, or a long vine. Though I don't remember what that plant is called.

Greg responds...

I got beat down pretty bad over my chameleon gene theory, so I'm gratified to learn I might not have been TOO wrong. The thing that strikes me is that extreme environmental factors and/or isolation that might have caused hugely divergent visual changes in early gargoyles after they spread out across the world... may have been tempered as what was for a time the world's dominent and most intelligent species proliferated and interbred with each other as once isolated clans came into contact again. Does that make sense?

Response recorded on December 20, 2007