Automata on the beach
I found this shell on the beach in Saipan last year.
Its pattern reminded me of the some of the cellular automata I had seen in Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science (chapter 3) – it turns out that this is no coincidence. The process by which some species of mollusks color their shells can be modeled by cellular automata: as the shell grows, the coloring of each row is affected by the coloring of the previous row through a small set of rules.
Dr. Coombes of the University of Nottingham gives a brief overview of some of the mathematics behind the structure and pigmentation of seashells here.