I came across a curious article today
. As we know, RPS-esque relationships do exist in nature: Wikipedia mentions both lizard mating strategies (where each of three colours defeats another in competition for a partner), and bacteria in the intestines of mice.
But, the Futurity piece above discusses a farther-reaching, more general observation of RPS in ecology. Where two species are both after the same resource, often one will beat out the other one, resulting in extinction. But, if each species possesses both advantages and disadvantages when seeking particular limiting factors, a massive, sustainable network of species can co-exist, with each out-competing others in specific resources. This requires an expansion of the traditional trifecta, sometimes with up to 4,000 participants (functioning like throws).
This model also emphasises the importance of each element: if one key species goes extinct, the balance can fail, resulting in the collapse of the whole system (like removing Paper from the game). There are more interesting points made in the article. It was written in 2011, and I'd be interested in finding out whether the research has progressed.This PhD thesis
seems to present another application of RPS in ecosystems, with a focus on evolutionary processes. I haven't read it, but it might be fascinating for a skim.
Yet more evidence to show that RPS is life.