An Origami Metaphor for Fetal Development

The sheets of tissue that fold, invaginate and turn inside out in a developing embryo do indeed grow, and it is that very growth that provides part of the motive force which, in origami, is supplied by the human hand. If you wanted to make an origami model with a sheet of living tissue instead of dead paper, there is at least a sporting chance that, if the sheet were to grow in just the right way, not uniformly but faster in some parts of the sheet than in others, this might automatically cause the sheet to assume a certain shape - and even fold or invaginate or turn inside out in a certain way - without the need for hands to do the stretching and folding, and without the need for any global plan, but only local rules. And actually it's more than just a sporting chance, because it really happens. Let's call it 'autoorigami'. How does auto-origami work in practice, in embryology? It works because what happens in the real embryo, when a sheet of tissue grows, is that cells divide. And differential growth of the different parts of the sheet of tissue is achieved by the cells, in each part of the sheet, dividing at a rate determined by local rules. So, by a roundabout route, we return to the fundamental importance of bottom-up local rules as opposed to top-down global rules. It is a whole series of (far more complicated) versions of this simple principle that actually go on in the early stages of embryonic development.


Cells divide and fold into new forms, just as origami structures become other structures through new folds.

Folksonomies: evolution metaphor fetal development

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Embryology (0.985091): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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 The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dawkins, Richard (2010-08-24), The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Free Press, Retrieved on 2011-05-19
Folksonomies: evolution science