This video depicts 500 people trying to do what should be an extraordinarily simple task: trace over an existing line. But as each person was asked to copy the previous person's effort, the original straight line morphed into a chaotic mess of random squiggles. We're not saying this is exactly like how evolution works, but this is a pretty great depiction of how random errors and mutations can accumulate over time.

Video maker Clement Valla explains how this was created:


"A Sequence of Lines Consecutively Traced by Five Hundred Individuals" is an online drawing tool that lets users do just one thing - trace a line. Each new user only sees the latest line drawn, and can therefore only trace this latest imperfect copy. As the line is reproduced over and over, it changes and evolves - kinks, trembling motions and errors are exaggerated through the process.

It's interesting to see how the line changes over time - it starts to go awry with the very first trace attempt, which veers wildly all over the place. A bunch of tracers are then able to pretty perfectly replicate this first error, but then as more and more inaccurate tracers have a crack at replicating what they see, we get further and further away from the original line.

Via Vimeo.