As water dwelling vertebrates began to progressively evolve features that enabled them to survive on land, they also developed larger eyes, which would have considerably increased their range of vision above water. This increase in visual range may have facilitated their exploitation of new food sources on land and promoted increased cognitive capacity in the form of planning (MacIver et al., 2017). In this study, we use a multi-level agent-based model to attempt to replicate the dynamics of the hypothetical evolutionary scenario described above. To do so, we use a novel method called agent-centric Monte Carlo cognition (ACMCC) (Head and Wilensky, 2018), which allows us to represent the agents’ cognition in a quantifiable manner by performing micro-simulations in a separate agent-based model. In our simulations, we observe that as a population that is adapted to live on land emerges, their mean eye size and cognitive capacity increase.

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