One of the most uncanny of evolutionary phenomena is the ecological convergence of biota living on different continents or in different epochs. When a lineage of organisms undergoes an adaptive radiation (diversification), it leads to an array of relatively stable ecological forms. The specific ecological forms are often recognizable from lineage to lineage. For example among dinosaurs, the Pterosaur, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus and Ichthyosaur are ecological parallels respectively, to the bat, rhinoceros, lion and porpoise of modern mammals. Similarly, among modern placental mammals, the gray wolf, flying squirrel, great anteater and common mole are ecological parallels respectively, to the Tasmanian wolf, honey glider, banded anteater and marsupial mole of the marsupial mammals of Australia.
Given these evidently powerful convergent forces, it should perhaps not be surprising that as adaptive radiations proceed among digital organisms, we encounter recognizable ecological forms, in spite of the fundamentally distinct physics and chemistry on which they are based. Ideally, comparisons should be made among organisms of comparable complexity. It may not be appropriate to compare viruses to mammals. Unfortunately, the organic creatures most comparable to digital organisms, the RNA creatures, are no longer with us. Since digital organisms are being compared to modern organic creatures of much greater complexity, ecological comparisons must be made in the broadest of terms.
Trained biologists will tend to view synthetic life in the same terms that they have come to know organic life. Having been trained as an ecologist and evolutionist, I have seen in my synthetic communities, many of the ecological and evolutionary properties that are well known from natural communities. Biologists trained in other specialties will likely observe other familiar properties. It seems that what we see is what we know. It is likely to take longer before we appreciate the unique properties of these new life forms.