Institut für Evolution und Ökologie

Darwin Rocks

Darwin Rocks was a project we had in 2009, funded by the Volkswagen-Foundation.

In this project we’re gonna rock. We combine music with evolution, which is not only fun, but might encourage you to think more about evolution. Most people have heard about Charles Darwin. But are you really sure that you understand what evolution is all about?

With this interactive project we hope to reduce some of the widespread misconceptions and allow you to discover some principles of evolution all by yourself. What are mutations? What is asexual reproduction? And what does „survival of the fittest“ mean? Some hints can be found in the music video and in the game.

All this was possible due to the generous support by the VolkswagenFoundation with the idea competition “Evolution Today”.

Music Video

What happened?
After 127 years Professor Darwin returns in his laboratory working on his theory to find out that some people interpret his statement “survival of the fittest” as survival of the physically strongest”. He wants to prove experimentally that this is not quite correct.

Darwin looks through a microscope into a petri dish, which scientists usually use to keep bacteria or small worms. Surprisingly, there is a soccer field on the dish. The game starts: An orange and a purple team, men and women in both, begin to play. The purple team is very strong and sporty, and eclusively focused on winning. The orange team is clearly inferior, but they help and care for each other. Back in his laboratory the professor makes some notes.

The next time we look at the soccer field 25 years have gone by and most of the players are now old. The purple team is still better, but the orange team has grown and kids are now playing with them. In the third half, again 25 years later, the purple team is now even older and they have become quite frail, they are almost at the end of their lives, one player has to be carried off the field.

The orange team, on the contrary, has proliferated: They have loved each other and produced children. The older players live on in their children and win the tournament by surviving, not as single individuals, but as a big family.

This is, of course, a reason for Professor Darwin to celebrate with his colleagues. Finally, he could prove what he had always said: It´s not about power, but about reproduction and love. Only then can you win in evolution.

Video on Youtube English

Video on Youtube German


Not only animals and plants, microorganisms and humans change during evolution. Something very different evolves too: Music!

In this game music develops from the musical primordial soup onwards. Due to random mutations each song sounds a bit different and each tune has offspring that sounds various. You decide which musical creature you like and thus you increase its chance of reproduction. The continuous process of listening and rating has a big impact on the direction of development. It will lead you to some very surprising results. This all happens although each single change is just accidental. This is the power of selection.

Natural mass extinctions and increased environmental stress can also influence the appearance of those little creatures. Still you will step forward to the goal of your ultimate song. It just might take a while...


Darwin Rocks for Mac

Darwin Rocks for Windows

Darwin Rocks for Linux

Lyrics in German or English

Project Description (German)