Viral Guessing Game

December 24th, 2023
Julia introduced me to Metazooa, a taxonomic guessing game. You're trying to figure out what animal the computer has chosen. Each time you guess the computer will reveal the lowest taxonomic clade that they both belong to. For example, if you guessed platypus and the answer was humans then it would tell you they were both mammals, since they have nothing else in common taxonomically.

We played a bit and it was fun, and then I wanted to play a version with human-infecting viruses. They have one for plants (Metaflora) but not for viruses, so I made my own: Metahomoviria. The code is on github.

The first version had ~200 human-infecting viruses and wasn't very fun because you probably haven't heard of most of them:

80941   Guaroa virus
273341  Ilesha virus
35514   Keystone virus
11580   Snowshoe hare virus
11577   La Crosse virus
273352  Macaua virus
348013  Madrid virus
35515   Melao virus
But I've trimmed it down to 42 reasonably well known viruses and it's better now:
11234   Measles
2560602 Mumps
11250   Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
1570291 Ebola
11292   Rabies
1980413 Hantavirus
11320   Flu A

It still isn't all that fun—what's the difference between Picornavirales and Picornaviridae and is there really so far from being a property Picornavirales have in common that it needed to be an acronym—but I like it. And I do feel like I'm getting a better feel for which viruses are genetically closer to each other.

If this sounds interesting, play with it here.

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