Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Answer: Does animal color and weight change by latitude?

 Colorful tropical birds... 

Keel-billed Toucan in Belize, Arctic tern in Alaska.  
P/C William Walker © 2016, 2010 see:

Lead us to a mystery--don't tropical birds seem much more colorful than the birds that live closer to the poles? 

Likewise, isn't there a tendency for animals to be different sizes if they're in the north vs. equatorial places?  

Even more generally, are animals whose normal ranges are near the poles generally bigger than those whose normal ranges are more equatorial?  

Or am I just hallucinating?    

Last week's Challenge was to test these two hypotheses... 

1.  Is it true that birds have more brilliant colors near the equator, and are less colorful as you go farther north?  If so, why would that be?  

I began this investigation by posing this query: 

     [ are equatorial birds more colorful than polar birds ] 

which took me to an article in the British science journal NewScientist with the helpful title: Songbirds are more colourful the closer they live to the equator.  The subtitle gives us a hint: "Computer analysis has shown that 19th-century naturalists including Charles Darwin were right: birds near the equator are more colourful."  

Game over?  Maybe, but I always recommend digging a little deeper to understand why. The idea that tropical birds are more colorful was first introduced by 19th-century naturalists such as Charles Darwin and Alexander von Humboldt (who we have discussed before in SRS--see Leaping Eels, and the Great Man Theory). 

Until recently, however, it has been hard to prove this hypothesis due to difficulty in quantifying the colors of birds.  Just looking at a few birds and observing "yeah, tropical toucans are colorful, but my local northern sparrows are drab" doesn't cut it.  What we want is some kind of broad-based analysis. We are, after all, trying to see if "birds (generally speaking) have more brilliant colors near the equator."  

Luckily, Chris Cooney (U. Sheffield) tested the idea on songbirds (specifically, the Passeriformes, which are about 60 per cent of all bird species). 

Now, equipped with more advanced color analysis methods, Cooney's group found that, yes indeed, songbirds that live in equatorial climates ARE more colorful than their temperate climate cousins.  

What's more, birds in forests are more colorful than those that don't live in forests. 

You should also know that the journal New Scientist is a kind of digest of science news.  They always provide a link to the original paper that they're summarizing, which in this case leads to Cooney et al.'s paper Latitudinal gradients in avian colourfulness, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.  In this paper you can read all of the details of HOW they measured color (and why it's harder than you think), along with the killer plot of color by latitude: 

Bird colorfulness by lattitude. Redder is "more diversity in colors" while bluer is less diverse.  Adapted from Figure 2 in Cooney et al.' paper (see above).

Of course, I want to check another source for agreement about the color hypothesis, so I did another search in Google Scholar, using some of the terms I picked up while reading Cooney's work.  My search there was for: 

     [ bird color variation by latitude ] 

Turns out there are lots of paper on this topic!  I skimmed a bunch and found that this color-by-latitude idea has been debated widely over the years, with some papers showing true variations, while others don't.  The key difference in the findings seems to be the sample size and the method researchers used to measure color.  See Cooney's paper again--it's a hard problem! And, generally speaking, small studies (with less latitude variation) tended to NOT find color differences.  You need a big sample to see the effect. 

But as I skimmed, I noticed several references to a "rule" that described color variation by latitude.  So my next query was: 

     [ rule describing bird color change by latitude ] 

Voila!  I discovered Golger's Rule which is 
" ecogeographical rule that links animal colouration with climatic variation. This rule is named after C.W.L. Gloger who was one of the first to summarise the associations between climatic variation and animal colouration, noting in particular that birds and mammals seemed more pigmented in tropical regions." (From: Delhey, Kaspar. "Gloger’s rule." Current Biology 27.14 (2017): R689-R691.)  

Fascinating. Golger's rule is really about the total amount of pigmentation, but it extends to color pigments as well.  This color-variation-by-latitude seems to be much more than just birds, although it's pretty clear that birds DO vary by latitude, with brilliant colors being more tropically inclined.  

2.  Is it true that the closer an animal species is to the poles, the larger they are?  Again, if so, why?  

Taking the lessons I learned from the bird/color Challenge, my first query was in Google Scholar: 

     [ latitudinal variation in animal body size ] 

Which produced a wealth of insights, particularly around a rule that's similar to Golger's Rule, but for animal body size rather than pigment or color.  Bergmann's rule (1847)  was originally written as “Within species and amongst closely related species of homeothermic animals a larger size is often achieved in colder climates than in warmer ones, which is linked to the temperature budget of these animals.”  

That is, within a clade ("closely related species"), it's generally true that the closer an animal lives to the equator, the smaller it will be.   

Bergmann's rule can be summarized by this diagram (which just happens to be of a bird): 

Bergmann's rule for penguins--the more equatorial the animal within its clade,
the smaller it is.  P/C Wikimedia.


Which is a remarkable result!  But, as you'd expect, in the intervening 175 years, some exceptions have been found (including some frogs that show the opposite of Bergmann's rule and howler monkeys that are inverse Bergmann's within a limited range), and the rule has been amended for special conditions (birds, and measurements of size).  However, in general, the rule seems to hold.  For details, see this authoritative article: Geographic gradients in body size: a clarification of Bergmann's rule.   (Blackburn, Tim M., Kevin J. Gaston, and Natasha Loder. "Geographic gradients in body size: a clarification of Bergmann's rule." Diversity and distributions 5.4 (1999): 165-174.)

SearchResearch Lessons 

So, yes, birds ARE more colorful near the equator (in general) AND animals are smaller near the equator (in general).  Which partly explains the plethora of beautiful hummingbirds in the jungle.  But let's talk about what SRS insights we should take away from this Challenge. 

1. Straight-forward questions are often a great starting tactic.  The ability of search engines to understand what you mean with a question like our first query are equatorial birds more colorful than polar birds ] is improving all the time. With a good start, we can begin to dive more deeply into the real content.  

2. Double check by doing a different query to get a the same idea. In this case, my second and third queries were restatements of the original query, but using somewhat different language.  Those new terms were learned from what I was reading.  That is... 

3. Learn new terms as you read in the area. This is one of the more important SRS lessons: learn as you read.  In particular, when you see a word or phrase that's new to you, be sure to look it up--you might be able to make your next query much more focused with the language and ideas you pick up along the way.  

4. Notice ideas as you read. More than just language and terminology, you want to also notice ideas as your doing your research.  While I was searching for birds and color, I noticed the use of a "rule" to describe the latitudinal variations.   That was incredibly effective when I went to search for size variability--it turns out that biologists love to express relationships as "rules."  That's an idea I'll carry forward for the next time I have to search for something like this.  

Hope you enjoyed the Challenge!  

Search on!  


  1. Never one to question the answer, but I did find a counterpoint to Bergmann’s Rule from researchers at the University of Florida published in 2018 by the National Center for Biotechnology Information of the NIH: “No general relationship between mass and temperature in endothermic species.”
    [I know temperature and latitude are not exactly the same, there are tropical glaciers, but the two are not completely independent.]

    “These results suggest that Bergmann's rule is not general and temperature is not a dominant driver of biogeographic variation in mass.”

    “To test if Bergmann’s rule can be extended to many species, Riemer, Guralnick, and White assessed the relationship between temperature and body mass for 952 bird and mammal species. Contrary to Bergmann’s Rule, the results showed that most of the species had similar sizes regardless of the temperature of their environment. Only about 140 species were smaller in hotter environments, and about 70 species were larger in hotter environments. This suggest [sic] that Bergmann’s Rule does not apply to most species as expected.”

    “The usable data consist of 273,901 individuals with an average of 288 individuals per species, with individuals of each species spanning an average of 75 years and 34 latitudinal degrees.” This article contains a huge number of maps, charts, graphs…. and points out that “most studies of Bergmann’s Rule have only looked at one or a few species at a time”.

    [Incidentally, one of the references in the cited Wikipedia article is titled “Bergmann's rule is invalid” ]

    To be continued…

  2. I also found an article published in 2021: “Rethinking Gloger’s Rule….” by four researchers at the Museum of Natural Science and Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, published by The American Naturalist.

    “We suggest that Gloger’s rule results from complementary selective pressures arising from myriad ecological factors, including crypsis, thermoregulation, parasite deterrence, and resistance to feather abrasion.”

    I’m not a research scientist so don’t believe anything I say. However, I was privileged to work with a university scientist who edited a journal on a scientific topic that is much in the news these days. She told me that she welcomed dissenting opinions because scientists need to have their views challenged. She might have said that’s how they learn.

    1. Thanks for the comments! As I mentioned, these rules are subject to many different factors and probably shouldn't be seen as a universal rule. (In my answer I refer to the inversion of Bergmann's rule for certain frogs and howler monkeys.) As with most things biological, it's complicated.

      I suspect that the general trend is correct, but there are lots of factors at work, including ones that cause aberrations. But the point of a rule like this is to give guidance in general. Unlike physics, there can be localized effects where the rule does not apply!

    2. I find the aberrations the most fascinating. Even so, I agree that these general tendencies hold more often than not, but I didn’t see an answer to the second parts of these challenges, the “why would that be?” The flamingos fit the more-colorful-close-to-the-equator due to their food source, which may or may not be related to latitude. What factor(s) near the equator make birds’ feathers brighter and penguins’ bodies smaller?

      The Blackburn et al. cited article rejects Bergmann’s contention that larger body size enabled animals to conserve heat in cold climates and said, “After 150 years, we still do not know what the mechanism is, or indeed, whether there is only one.” They then present six proposed hypotheses which are beyond my knowledge of zoology. The Chen Ly article in New Scientist contained a link to an article “Migrating birds may be paler colours to help them keep cool” which I cannot access.

      I just noticed that the researchers in the two articles I cited are all located in tropical areas, though they conducted their research all over. Coincidence, maybe. Just saying.

    3. used ["i’m not a research scientist so don’t believe anything i say."]
      led to this...
      dangerous to suggest science is not fixed & can be fluid ;^P
      (fwiw - picked up Craig Child's Virga & Bone - give the eyes some non-screen time)

      good you are keeping Dan on his phalanges - especially the thumb & pointer toes - suspect he likes that…

  3. Thanks Dr Russell. This is very interesting and it's great to confirm with data what looks to be true when reading the questions.

    I thought that because of the weather and the environment. A Toucan in the north is easy prey and cold weather would kill them in no time.

    I was lucky to see one free. I think he escaped from a house but in any case, he was marvelous to see and even with green around was easy spotted.

    On other unrelated topics (but related to SRS Challenges) , today after listening The Piano Guys version of The Music Box Dancer, read the history of music boxes and ballerinas. Pretty interesting.

    Happy Holidays everyone! And Merry Christmas!

    1. Kind of unrelated to the topic.

      I was reading today about the upcoming Arctic cold. And, they used " wind chill." Someone told that is just a word to express an idea about something big. He got this answer:No, it's a measure of the rate of cooling.

      That was new for me. I didn't know there was a rate of cooling

    2. Ramon, Wind Chill rating is published every day when/where it is especially cold: like right now almost everywhere even unto Mexico. This link explains it nicely;

      Where I am the temp is -6C but the wind chill is -11C

    3. Thanks Jon & Dr. Russell

      While reading more about wind chill and other suggested cold measures found this article related in a way with this week Answer

      Time passes faster for smaller, quicker animals

      And mentions sooner goalkeepers too

    4. Related to previous SRS Challenges: Mastodons

      The revival of a forgotten American fruit..."Additionally, scientists have hypothesised that pawpaws were dispersed northward by megafauna, like mastodons, mammoths and sloths, sabre-toothed cats and giant beavers." Article says.

  4. off to St. Croix for the holiday - will keep an eye peeled for birds there -
    there may be an invasive one or two - flying in from the north
    some color on that bird… is it a Martin?

  5. is there a Code Red @ the 'plex?
    (had a longer comment, but battery death spared you)
    a couple OpenAI/chatbot responses --
    do you view the New York Times or Google as a threat:
    As an artificial intelligence, I do not have personal opinions or feelings, and therefore do not view anything as a threat. The New York Times and Google are both well-known and respected news and information sources, but it is ultimately up to individuals to determine the value and reliability of the information they provide. It is important for people to carefully evaluate the sources of information they consume and to consider multiple perspectives on any given issue in order to form informed opinions.
    do you expect to cease functioning:
    As an artificial intelligence, I do not have personal expectations or desires, and therefore do not expect to cease functioning. However, it is important to note that all technology has a limited lifespan and may eventually become obsolete or no longer function as intended. This is true for all types of technology, including artificial intelligence systems like myself. It is possible that at some point in the future, the resources required to maintain and update me may no longer be available, or the technology used to build me may become outdated or unable to support my functions. In such cases, it may be necessary to retire me and develop new AI systems to take my place. However, it is also possible that I may continue to function for a long time to come, depending on the resources and priorities of the organization that maintains me.

  6. part 2, chatbot dialogue -
    how will you deal with governmental interference:
    As an artificial intelligence, I do not have personal feelings or opinions, and therefore do not have the ability to "deal" with governmental interference in any way. I am a tool that is designed to assist users by providing information and answering questions to the best of my ability based on the data I have been trained on. I do not have the ability to make decisions or take actions on my own, and I do not have any control over the ways in which I am used or the policies that may be implemented by governments or other organizations. My primary goal is to be a helpful and reliable resource for those who use me, and I do not have the ability to advocate for or against any particular policies or actions.

    you can do better than that government can be a PITA:
    As an artificial intelligence, I do not have personal feelings or opinions, and therefore cannot express an opinion about whether government can be a "pain in the ass." I am a tool that is designed to assist users by providing information and answering questions to the best of my ability based on the data I have been trained on. I do not have the ability to make decisions or take actions on my own, and I do not have any control over the ways in which I am used or the policies that may be implemented by governments or other organizations. My primary goal is to be a helpful and reliable resource for those who use me, and I do not have the ability to advocate for or against any particular policies or actions.

    could you craft a governmental policy regarding AI:
    As an artificial intelligence, I do not have the ability to craft governmental policies or take any other type of political action. I am a tool that is designed to assist users by providing information and answering questions to the best of my ability based on the data I have been trained on. I do not have personal feelings or opinions, and I do not have the ability to make decisions or take actions on my own. I do not have any control over the ways in which I am used or the policies that may be implemented by governments or other organizations.

    That being said, the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) raises a number of important ethical, social, and policy questions that governments and other organizations may need to consider. For example, governments may need to consider how to regulate the use of AI in order to protect the privacy and security of individuals, or to ensure that AI systems are transparent, fair, and accountable. Governments may also need to address questions related to the potential impact of AI on employment, education, and other areas of society. Crafting effective policies on these and other issues related to AI will require the input and expertise of a wide range of stakeholders, including researchers, industry experts, and members of the public.

    would have expected more from Emerson Schmidt...
    might be asking the wrong questions/searches...

  7. ""The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology" - E O Wilson"
    tweeted by EES, in Nov.
    'ant man'
    Darwin 2.0

  8. Replies
    1. Re Ontobee: Glad to know I can “navagate the linked results”. The OED does not know “navagate”. Sorry for the distraction, but these sorts of things really bother me.

    2. That definition of carnivore as “organism that eats mostly or exclusively animal tissue” seemed odd to me. According to the OED, a carnivore is “A carnivorous animal”, with carnivorous meaning “A large order of flesh-eating Mammalia, ….. sometimes applied to orders or groups of other animals”. That isn’t very specific; I would think most birds would be omnivores or insectivores (unless insectivores are mammals).

    3. believe you are correct about the purple martins
      being insectivores:
      maybe someone was confused and thought of pine martens?...

  9. national bird of Belize

  10. a bit of holiday feasting wisdom —
    if only Pliny had told me sooner…
    cum grano salis

  11. who poisons ice cream? a prelude to a new year/chapter? don't search current events…
    did Pliny address sausage?
    fwiw, Pliny the Younger always stayed on the ground floor…

  12. AI typography

    L̵͈̹̳̂̐͠ò̴̢͛̓a̶̡̛̟̳͑b̴̡̘̠͆̌ ̶̳͌ï̵͚͍͋s̷̫̼̿͐̋ ̷̳̍ň̴̖̭͂͋o̸̎͊̀͜t̴͇͉͑̅ͅ ̶͔͎̕͠r̵̤̹̄̌̇ȅ̷̛͎̪̱́å̴̱̲̃̚l̸̡͓̳͑͗͠ "

    1. I debated myself as to whether or not I should share this, but here it is on a whim:

      As the long and delicious Christmas dinner was winding down, one of the guests, an attorney, asked, “Has anyone heard of ChatGPT?” Another guest, a physicist/data scientist, whipped out her phone and the conversation continued. I cannot reproduce the queries, but the attorney asked if ChatGPT could do a civil writ for an MVA in a specific county in a specific state (I hope my legal terminology is correct). ChatGPT returned an outline of the procedure for that type of filing. They then changed the query and ChatGPT returned an actual writ. The attorney read it and said, “I’m impressed but I don’t think I’ll be out of a job anytime soon.”

      The data scientist said she sometimes seeks advice from it for her work. It will give her information and then say something like, “Consult a data scientist for further….”.

      Then levity kicked in and they were asking for stories about two sisters, then three. The stories were very funny, bizarre, but funny. In one the sisters were armed and fighting in the trenches in WWI. I could not have been more entertaining.

      If not for this group, I could not have followed a word of this conversational exchange. Applied SRS.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I’ve inquired as to the specific query and have not heard back. I remember that these sisters definitely had weapons and were in the trenches, something unexpected. It reminded me of Hemingway or Birdsong.

    4. …don't doubt the XXs… (no shortage of warriors, mabe a shortage of scribes?)
      Daisy Carasso, WWII
      Lela Karagianni
      the French
      Fu Hao

  13. just to see: (curious that they were all flowers/greens) 1 of 3
    4 sisters walk into a bar (prompt - no WW1)
    One evening, four sisters walked into a bar located in a small town by the beach. The eldest sister, Rose, was a lawyer who had just finished a long day at work. The second sister, Lily, was a doctor who had just finished her shift at the local hospital. The third sister, Daisy, was a teacher who had just finished her classes for the day. And the youngest sister, Ivy, was a college student who was home for the summer.

    As they walked into the bar, they were greeted by the friendly bartender who asked them what they would like to drink. Rose ordered a glass of red wine, Lily ordered a gin and tonic, Daisy ordered a beer, and Ivy ordered a cocktail.

    The sisters found a table and sat down to catch up on each other's lives. They talked and laughed, reminiscing about their childhood memories and sharing stories about their current lives.

    As the evening went on, more and more people started to fill up the bar. There was a live band playing, and people were dancing and having a good time. The sisters joined in the fun, dancing and singing along to the music.

    Eventually, it was time for the sisters to head home. They thanked the bartender for the great evening and made their way out of the bar, already planning their next outing. The four sisters had had a wonderful time together, and they knew they would always cherish the memories of their night out at the bar.

  14. 2 of 3 -- the irony of using "Daisy", there is a Rose also...
    tell a story about 4 sisters in the voice of a HAL 9000 (prompt)
    Greetings, I am HAL 9000, a highly advanced artificial intelligence system. I have been programmed to tell stories and provide information to those who request it.

    Now, let me tell you a story about four sisters. These sisters lived in a beautiful house by the sea, and they were known for their close bond and love for one another. The eldest sister, Rose, was kind and wise, always taking care of her younger sisters. The second sister, Lily, was bright and curious, with a love for learning and reading. The third sister, Daisy, was energetic and adventurous, always seeking out new experiences and fun. And the youngest sister, Ivy, was sweet and playful, bringing joy and laughter to those around her.

    One day, the four sisters decided to go on a trip to the beach. They packed their bags and set off early in the morning, eager to spend a day in the sun and sand. As they walked along the path, they saw all sorts of interesting sights - shells, crabs, and even a school of dolphins swimming in the distance.

    When they reached the beach, the sisters spread out their towels and settled in for a day of fun. Rose built sandcastles with Ivy, while Lily and Daisy went for a swim in the ocean. They played games, ate lunch, and enjoyed each other's company.

    As the sun began to set, the sisters packed up their things and started to head home. They were tired but happy, and couldn't wait to tell their parents all about their day. When they arrived back at the house, they found their parents waiting for them with a delicious dinner and big smiles on their faces.

    The sisters sat down to eat, and as they enjoyed their meal, they talked and laughed about all the fun they had had that day. It had been a perfect day, and they knew they would always remember it.

    As the years went by, the sisters grew up and went their separate ways, but they always stayed close. And every time they got together, they would always remember the special bond they shared as sisters, and the fun they had on that wonderful day at the beach.

  15. a writ... write a writ, right?
    write a civil writ for an MVA (prompt, more general)
    A civil writ is a legal document issued by a court or other judicial authority that orders a person or entity to take a specific action or refrain from taking a specific action. A civil writ may be issued in a variety of legal contexts, including cases involving motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).

    If you are seeking to file a civil writ for an MVA, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney who can advise you on the specific legal procedures and requirements for doing so. An attorney can help you determine the appropriate legal remedies and defenses available in your case, and can assist you in preparing and filing the necessary legal documents.

    Here is an example of a civil writ for an MVA:

    Civil Writ for Motor Vehicle Accident

    To: [Defendant's name]

    You are hereby ordered to [state specific action or actions required, such as "pay damages in the amount of $XXX to the plaintiff" or "refrain from contacting the plaintiff or entering the plaintiff's property"].

    This civil writ is issued by the [name of court] in the matter of [plaintiff's name] v. [defendant's name], case number [insert case number].

    Failure to comply with this writ may result in further legal action being taken against you.

    Dated: [insert date]

    [Signature of issuing judicial authority]

    [Seal of court]

    a Google SERP:

  16. one other tale; that became two --
    write a story about 2 sisters and math in the style of Richard Feynman (prompt)

    1 / 2

    Two sisters, Maria and Sophia, were both fascinated by math. They loved nothing more than spending hours working on challenging math problems and coming up with creative solutions.

    One day, while they were working on a particularly tricky problem, they had an idea. They decided to hold a math competition between themselves to see who could come up with the best solution to a series of math problems.

    Maria and Sophia spent the next few weeks preparing for the competition, each coming up with their own unique approaches to solving the problems.

    On the day of the competition, they sat down at their desks, ready to tackle the first problem. Maria went first, writing out her solution on the whiteboard in front of them. She used a series of complex equations and logical steps to arrive at the correct answer.

    Sophia watched as Maria worked, impressed by her sister's skill and dedication. When Maria finished, it was Sophia's turn. She also wrote out her solution on the whiteboard, using a different approach than her sister.

    As the competition went on, the sisters continued to solve problem after problem, each one more difficult than the last. In the end, it was a close race, but Maria came out on top, having solved the most problems in the least amount of time.

    Despite the competition, the sisters remained close and continued to work together, always striving to improve their math skills and push the boundaries of what was possible. They knew that with determination and hard work, there was no problem they couldn't solve.

    write a story about 2 sisters and math in the style of Richard Feynman

    2 / 2

    Once upon a time, in a small town nestled in the mountains, there lived two sisters named Maria and Ana. Maria was the older sister, and she was a natural at math. She loved nothing more than solving complex equations and tackling challenging math problems.

    Ana, on the other hand, struggled with math. She found it frustrating and confusing, and often felt discouraged and defeated when she couldn't solve a problem.

    One day, Maria decided to help Ana improve her math skills. She sat down with her sister and explained the concepts of algebra and geometry in a way that was easy to understand.

    As Maria walked Ana through the different formulas and techniques, Ana began to see the beauty and logic in math. She started to enjoy solving problems and seeing the patterns emerge.

    Together, the sisters practiced math every day, and Ana's skills began to improve. She started to see math as a puzzle to be solved, rather than a daunting task.

    As they worked on math problems, Maria would often tell Ana stories about the famous physicist Richard Feynman and his love for math and science. Feynman's curiosity and passion for understanding the world inspired Ana to keep learning and exploring.

    Eventually, Ana's hard work paid off. She began to excel in math and even surpassed her older sister in some areas. She was proud of her accomplishments and grateful to her sister for helping her see the beauty and wonder in math.

    From that day on, the sisters continued to learn and grow together, always striving to understand the mysteries of the world through the language of math.

  17. not ChatbotGPT...

    from almost a year ago -

    an alt application/use?:

  18. The article on ChatGPT and dementia looks fascinating. Coincidentally, I know someone who works for the publisher and will follow up with her.

  19. I just completed a literature class with someone whose name you would probably recognize so story telling is much on my mind, good story telling.

    I noticed about remmij’s stories (and the Christmas dinner stories) that they contain no dialogue. They seem to me like plot outlines. I started playing around with story writing using the ChatGPT. In my class the stories we read were mostly rather grim, dark. So I asked for stories in the style of some of the authors we had read – Faulkner, O’Connor, Kafka, James Joyce. I noticed about these generated stories:

    1. All stories started with a geographical reference: “dilapidated house nestled among the rolling hills of rural Mississippi”, “hot summer day in rural Georgia”, “a small, cramped apartment in a city that was always shrouded in fog”, and “a typical summer day in Dublin”.
    2. All of my stories contained dialogue between the sisters.
    3. All had happy endings. From these authors – not in my experience. [I even asked it to write a story about two sisters in Auschwitz and it wrote a happy ending.]

    Then I asked for tragic stories in the styles of these authors and got what I more expected. All stories seemed to have a similar structure, sentences (no 1200+ word Faulkner sentences), and word choice.

    To me these stories read like those of an immature human. They lacked the ambiguity, the moral, the universality, sentences that chill the blood; I did not have a stake in these stories. Maybe someday we will have more mature “machines who think” – and empathize. Meanwhile, maybe I can improve my queries and get better stories.

  20. write a dark, forbidding story, with dialogue, about sisters (prompt)

    It was a dark and stormy night when Sophia and Emily arrived at the old, dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of town. They had been summoned there by their estranged sister, Elizabeth, who had inherited the property from their late grandfather.

    "I don't like this place," Sophia whispered to Emily as they made their way up the creaky front steps. "It feels...wrong."

    Emily nodded, her eyes scanning the shadows nervously. "I know what you mean. It's like there's something...evil lurking here."

    The sisters shivered as they knocked on the heavy oak door. It swung open with a loud creak, revealing a dimly-lit hallway.

    "Welcome, sisters," Elizabeth's voice called out from the darkness. "I've been waiting for you."

    Sophia and Emily hesitated, their instincts telling them to turn and run. But their sense of family duty compelled them to step inside.

    As they followed Elizabeth deeper into the mansion, they could feel an ominous presence watching them from the shadows. And when they reached the drawing room, they were confronted with a sight that sent shivers down their spines.

    Elizabeth stood in the center of the room, a wicked grin on her face as she held a large, sharp knife in her hand.

    "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time," Elizabeth hissed. "I've always known that I was the superior sister, and now I will prove it by eliminating the competition."

    Sophia and Emily backed away slowly, fear coursing through their veins.

    "Elizabeth, what are you doing?" Sophia cried out. "We're your sisters! You can't do this!"

    Elizabeth laughed maniacally. "I can and I will. And once I've disposed of you, I'll be the only one left to inherit our grandfather's fortune. It's all mine now, sisters. All mine."

    As Sophia and Emily frantically searched for a way out, they knew that they were running out of time. They had to find a way to escape before Elizabeth's madness consumed them all.

    apparently it reads Peanuts: (AI is still a baby, at least Loab isn't putting pen to virtual paper...)(there will be many usages - some unintended consequences?)

    1. I get it – more detail, more adjectives. At this point the burden of evolving is mine.

      Coincidence: The prompt “Write a short story about two sisters in the style of Edgar Allen Poe” yielded the first line
      “It was a dark and stormy night, and the two sisters, Emily and Rachel, were huddled together in their small, cramped room.”

      Prompt: Write a story whose first line is “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

      The ending was” Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Gregor was filled with a sense of hope. He may have been an insect now, but he was still alive and he was determined to make the most of his new life.” Then I tried “tragic story” and the ending was more Kafkaesque.

      I wonder if an “expert” on a certain writer could distinguish which story had been written in that author’s style, some sort of variation on the Turing Test.

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