Suppose humans discovered a beautiful new world they wanted to inhabit, far from the political machinations and military affairs of the alien-populated universe. They established a few colonies on the planet's surface, with differing levels of technology.
One of the native fauna serves as an agent of change: it is similar to a mosquito, but each bite slightly alters the genetic structures of its victim. This allows flora and fauna alike to adapt to their environment. Humans, for example, cannot eat the local food until a few days of exposure to the mosquitoes alters their body enough to make the food compatible.
This change needs to be slow enough to
- keep the victim alive and
- prevent the changes from being quickly noticed,
but fast enough to
- be obvious enough to distinguish someone living on the planet for years from someone who just arrived.
My current idea is for the mosquito bites to modify 1% of the subject's unaltered genetic structure each year. Over time, these changes manifest as unusual hair or eye color, hardening of the skin, and similar predominantly cosmetic changes. Across generations, these changes are much more profound, such as introducing new organs or appendages.
- Is this a reasonable rate of change to achieve my three objectives?
- How can I calculate the amount of genetic change a given individual has experienced for a given number of years of exposure?
- How can I calculate the amount of genetic change between generations?