Alan Turing is better known for his contributions to cryptography, efforts which ultimately resulted in the modern computer. What I wasn’t aware of was that he also made contributions to the field of biology.
Turing had a hypothesis regarding how the pattern of tigers’ stripes are formed. He thought a pair of morphogens, molecules responsible for tissue formation, controlled the pattern–an activator and an inhibitor. With the activator, a stripe is formed; with the inhibitor, a blank spot. Turning these on and off make the stripes. This repeating pattern can be found in a number of places in nature.
This was unproven until recently, scientists at King’s College in London performed experiments with the ridges in the roof of the mouths of mice. By manipulating these morphogens, they were able to control the pattern of the ridges, and, in turn, prove Turing’s theory.