After seeing the patterns on the feathers of a argusianus argus pheasant (shown below), I am curious where is the information that encodes a pattern for a particular bird, and what form is this information in?

On the bird below, there is a pattern of gradient in a circle, wavy stripes, spots, a very soft caustic or honey combed pattern, among others.

I am interested in both the process of producing this pattern in a particular bird (which proteins do what), and also what coordinates this process (what in the dna controls these proteins).

For instance, some guesses: maybe some random seed is encoded in each organism, and that determines the initial conditions of some proteins, which through a cellular automata type mechanism the patterns are randomly but reproducible produced in each feather (I think this is similar to the reaction diffusion idea). Another possibility is that the information in the pattern is encoded somehow, pixel-wise (crazy!), in the JPEG style DCT basis, in the JPEG-2000 style wavelet basis, in the gabor basis, from some deep representation of some neural network, or something else.

Any insights and links would be appreciated.

argusianus argus pheasant


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