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Author Topic:   What type of biological life will more than likely be found on other planets?
RAZD
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Posts: 18472
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 136 of 178 (671075)
08-22-2012 7:13 AM
Reply to: Message 135 by ProtoTypical
08-22-2012 5:40 AM


Re: bilateral symmetry
Hi Dogmafood

... the ability to balance and motivate ...

To balance and move in a single direction. This is also done by snakes and worms by using peristaltic muscles along their length.

But once you get up on legs, I am not so clear. Consider a fish\amphibian evolution where the front fins become hand\fins and then legs and arms, while the tail becomes foot\fin. A resulting organism could be a hopping animal or a three-legged runner with a gait similar to a horses gallop.

Technically it could still be bilateral, but the tail/leg would not have to be for it to work (perhaps it forms into a spring for instance).

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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jar
Member
Posts: 28838
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 137 of 178 (671087)
08-22-2012 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 134 by Blue Jay
08-21-2012 11:22 PM


Re: Rare sapience
And this is why going slow is necessary.

But, I'm perfectly willing to grant that technological development is also strongly limited by the environment, and that land is a better habitat for technology than sea. But, I'm not sure what the point is: even on land, only the one species with the highest intelligence was able to develop technology. So, clearly, intelligence is the real limiting factor here.

Is intelligence the limiting?

Are humans more intelligent than elephants or cephalopods. Or do we simply have more knowledge?

Is the limiting factor intelligence or rather a combination of traits?

Intelligence makes it possible for us to invent new technologies to deal with new challenges in new environments. That's how humans have adapted to every environment on the planet.

Yes but I believe that is grossly over simplified and gives a far too much credit to intelligence and not enough credit to the specific inventions and other factors I mentioned.

I'm sorry: I don't buy this. I'll grant that cephalopods are very intelligent, but there's no evidence that their cognitive abilities are comparable to ours.

We do not have a good way of measuring intelligence. We can test knowledge, skills and learning, problem solving but how do you test intelligence?


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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Straggler
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Posts: 10195
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 138 of 178 (671091)
08-22-2012 9:33 AM
Reply to: Message 104 by Blue Jay
08-21-2012 9:30 AM


Re: Accumulated Intelligence
BluJ writes:

Furthermore, most of the other notably intelligent animals seem to not be predators.

I was interested to find out that dolphins (amongst the most intelligent of animals) seem to exhibit the very human-like tendency to kill for fun......

Link


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onifre
Member (Idle past 363 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 139 of 178 (671105)
08-22-2012 10:44 AM
Reply to: Message 137 by jar
08-22-2012 9:11 AM


Re: Rare sapience
Been away for a while but I've been following the thread closely from the emails of all your responses.

Are humans more intelligent than elephants or cephalopods. Or do we simply have more knowledge?

Collectively, we are more intelligent than all other species on this planet. We also have more knowledge than them because our intelligence manifested a complex enough language to increase it.

What is your point though Jar?

We do not have a good way of measuring intelligence. We can test knowledge, skills and learning, problem solving but how do you test intelligence?

Knowledge, skills learned, problem solving, all that collectively, is what we call intelligence.

- Oni


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onifre
Member (Idle past 363 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 140 of 178 (671109)
08-22-2012 10:55 AM
Reply to: Message 43 by Taq
08-16-2012 3:42 PM


Re: Hands are Handy
Indeed. I was thinking about this a little bit more, and there are other parameters. First, you need a planet about the size of ours. If gravity is too high then flying is just too ineffecient. If the planet is too small then it eventually cools, loses its magnetic field, and then loses its atmosphere. This is what happened to Mars.

This is what I think about also. How likely is another Earth-type planet so far as having ALL the same attributes that you mention?

Without such a planet, the likelyhood that species, such as the one's found here on Earth, won't emerge. That's not to say something else won't, but not in the way of land animals or much less flight.

I think that the evolution of intelligence is like the example above. You can't select for more intelligence unless there is a way for that intelligence to be used, a way to transfer that horsepower to the track.

Agreed. So what is truly neccessary is land, a good portion of it. And water, a good potion of it.

Our hands are definitely a good example of this. They are extremely flexible and allow us to make any tool we want (within reason). We can even see how the wrist and hand morphology changed during human evolution to allow for more flexibility and better manipulation of tools. For example, we can touch the tip of our thumb with the tip of our little finger. Other apes can't do that. This allows us to hold a stick parallel with our forearm, something else that a chimp can not do. It would seem to me that tool use and tool making are very important for evolving an intelligence like ours.

It's also the last in a line of appendages that have evolved for millions of years. They seem to be the most highly functional of all.

- Oni


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 110 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 141 of 178 (671113)
08-22-2012 11:09 AM
Reply to: Message 137 by jar
08-22-2012 9:11 AM


Re: Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

I think it's almost time to wind this down a bit. I'm getting too personal, so I need to back off. This post is sort of a summary post, then I'll stop pushing this specific vein of discussion.

jar writes:

Blue Jay writes:

Intelligence makes it possible for us to invent new technologies to deal with new challenges in new environments. That's how humans have adapted to every environment on the planet.

Yes but I believe that is grossly over simplified and gives a far too much credit to intelligence and not enough credit to the specific inventions and other factors I mentioned.

Let me restate my position:

My position is that human success cannot be chalked up to a single factor. There is no "magical tool" that we have that explains all of our success. There is no specific anatomical adaptation that explains all of our success. We succeeded in different environments for different reasons.

So, regional success can be chalked up to specific inventions and innovations, like clothing, fire, stone tools, hunting tactics, discovery of new food sources, etc. But, global success cannot be explained by specific inventions. Rather, global success is explained by the underlying process of repeatedly and flexibly adapting to the challenges of each new environment with new inventions and innovations. I attribute this adaptability to human intelligence.

That is my position.

jar writes:

We do not have a good way of measuring intelligence.

I agree. And we can only speculate as to why other apparently intelligent animals did not develop the sophisticated tool sets humans developed.

Does a marine environment preclude technological development?
Does a short lifespan preclude technological development?
Does an arboreal lifestyle preclude technological development?
Does an herbivorous lifestyle preclude technological development?
Does the lack of hands preclude technological development?

I don't know. As a long-time science fiction writer and world-builder, I have always enjoyed speculating on these things. But, that's all it is: speculation.

The best option is to infer from our one example (us) what may or may not have been influential in our tremendous, global success, and extrapolate that. And, by my reading, the evidence does not seem to show that human expansion across the globe was due to a small handful of key inventions. If you have evidence that says otherwise, please share it, because I would be most interested in learning what technological developments unlocked the secret for global success, and speculating about non-intelligent creatures that could duplicate our success by just happening to "evolve" those technologies.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 137 by jar, posted 08-22-2012 9:11 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 143 by jar, posted 08-22-2012 11:37 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
onifre
Member (Idle past 363 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


(2)
Message 142 of 178 (671114)
08-22-2012 11:09 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Stile
08-16-2012 9:06 AM


Re: I like to guess
Agreed. I must admit that in my list of dominant traits intelligence is the baby of the group.

I agree. Not that it makes it less likely to survive, my point is only that we don't know what such a highly evolved intelligence will lead us to.

Sometimes I think our intelligence is a kind of runaway function that developed too much for this environment. As Blue Jay has pointed out, we have taken over the planet. Spread out to every corner of Earth, and with that, we have needed to use the resources of those areas that we inhabit.

No other species has done this, but MAYBE that's because no species should actual be able to do this. The planet has limited resources, obviously. A species that uses up all of it will fuck itself out of them, eventually.

I suppose "we'll see?" Or, more likely, we probably won't 'cause you and I will likely be long gone before any of this is figured out.

To steal the idea from Michio Kaku, I think we eventually will need to work as one single unified race of human beings to expand our existence to not just Earth, due to it's limited resources and our inevitable use of all of it.

But for that we would need to shed so many ideologies from race issues, to religious beliefs, to politcal positions and nationalism.

Ah... No, I don't mind the thought of being alone either. If there is other intelligence out there, and they're anything like us (currently)... it would certainly be safer for us to be alone, anyway... :]

That's a very good point that I hadn't even considered. They may be just as big of assholes as we are.

- Oni


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jar
Member
Posts: 28838
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 143 of 178 (671117)
08-22-2012 11:37 AM
Reply to: Message 141 by Blue Jay
08-22-2012 11:09 AM


Re: Rare sapience
My position is that human success cannot be chalked up to a single factor. There is no "magical tool" that we have that explains all of our success. There is no specific anatomical adaptation that explains all of our success. We succeeded in different environments for different reasons.

So, regional success can be chalked up to specific inventions and innovations, like clothing, fire, stone tools, hunting tactics, discovery of new food sources, etc. But, global success cannot be explained by specific inventions. Rather, global success is explained by the underlying process of repeatedly and flexibly adapting to the challenges of each new environment with new inventions and innovations. I attribute this adaptability to human intelligence.

As I said, way up thread, I don't think our positions are all that far apart.

While our success cannot be explained by any one or any small group of factors, the failure of other critters can be explained, and that I believe is far more important than our success when considering what we are likely to find on other planets.

Human technology could not have developed without certain other factors, for example living on the surface of a planet where fire is possible, having one or more limbs not devoted to locomotion and the capability to manipulate complex objects, living long enough to accumulate large amounts of knowledge, a method of transferring that knowledge other than just person to person, being mobile and having a long enough protected childhood to learn how to learn.

A cephalopod like sea critter could not do what humans did regardless of how intelligent they become since they don't live long enough, nor could an oyster. It's unlikely an elephant (including mammoths and other similar critters) could do it but they come the closest outside the primates even though the elephant does have many of the basic requirements just as long protected childhood and a prehensile limb not devoted to locomotion.

My point is that it is NOT just intelligence that led to human success but rather a whole group of fortuitous things and that it is very unlikely that we would expect to find anything like humans anywhere.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 141 by Blue Jay, posted 08-22-2012 11:09 AM Blue Jay has responded

Replies to this message:
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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 110 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(1)
Message 144 of 178 (671119)
08-22-2012 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 110 by Straggler
08-21-2012 9:56 AM


Re: Accumulated Intelligence
Hi, Straggler.

Straggler writes:

...intelligence is more the result of having to continually adapt and more likely to come about in something that might be both prey and predator. Something with a more mid-range position in the food-chain that encourages adaptability…..

There's certainly a lot of complexity to consider.

First off, the flexibility afforded by intelligence makes it most useful to animals with a variable ecology: animals that eat many different things, that have to deal with many different dangers, etc.

But, most tools used by apes are for functions related to obtaining meat. So, tool-making, for us, seemed to start as a predatory strategy.

But, maybe this is because ape anatomy isn't particularly well-suited to predation, so we had to invent tools in order to facilitate our carnivory.

But, intelligent predators wouldn't need tools to facilitate their carnivory, because they're already adapted to that.
So, would they only invent technology if they wanted to obtain plant foods?
Of course, what tools do you need to pick fruit? Maybe intelligent predators wouldn't need tools at all.

So, maybe omnivores with "aspirations" to become predators are the only type of technology-wielded intelligences we'll see?


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10195
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 145 of 178 (671124)
08-22-2012 12:47 PM
Reply to: Message 144 by Blue Jay
08-22-2012 11:45 AM


Re: Accumulated Intelligence
BluJ writes:

So, maybe omnivores with "aspirations" to become predators are the only type of technology-wielded intelligences we'll see?

I agree with your chain of thought. But it's still pretty speculative on both our parts....


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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 110 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 146 of 178 (671125)
08-22-2012 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by jar
08-22-2012 11:37 AM


Re: Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

My point is that it is NOT just intelligence that led to human success but rather a whole group of fortuitous things and that it is very unlikely that we would expect to find anything like humans anywhere.

Then, I apologize for misunderstanding you. And, you're right: our ideas don't differ so much in substance as they do in degree.

-----

I'd like to discuss a couple other points here:

jar writes:

...the failure of other critters can be explained...

I'm not comfortable with this notion. The absence of something is more difficult to study than the presence of something. It's certainly possible to hypothesize about why, e.g., octopus didn't invent tools, but it's difficult to test the hypotheses. The way I see it, you came up with about four or five hypotheses:

  1. No fire under water
  2. Short lifespan
  3. Low level of socialization
  4. No guidance during childhood
  5. Some combination of the above factors

How do we test these? Give octopus access to fire, lengthen their lifespan, force them to socialize, and see if they start making tools?

People didn't come up with these hypotheses by observing octopus and determining why they don't make tools: they came up with them by comparing octopus to humans, and extrapolating. So, it's still the insights from the "success" of humans, and not insights from the "failure" of octopus, that is driving the hypothesis.

As a further illustration of this, take the elephant. As you mentioned, the elephant lives on land, has a long lifespan, a prehensile limb, a complex social life and extensive parental care. Clearly, giving all these attributes to an intelligent animal isn't enough to generate tool-making behavior.

So, this means your list may not include all the relevant factors. Do they have to eat meat? Do they have to weigh less than a ton? Do they have to have significant predators? Do the limbs have to have a rigid skeleton?

I don't know. It's easier to look for positive evidence (e.g. correlations between specific characteristics of humans and their successful geographic expansion) than it is to look for negative evidence (which we couldn't identify in the absence of positive evidence, any way).


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


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 Message 143 by jar, posted 08-22-2012 11:37 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11348
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 147 of 178 (671135)
08-22-2012 2:15 PM
Reply to: Message 128 by Blue Jay
08-21-2012 1:33 PM


Re: bilateral symmetry
Echinoderms reverted to radial symmetry: the larvae are still bilateral, but the right side is absorbed back into the animal, and the left side develops into the radial animal we know (starfish, sea urchin, etc).

Neat! But wow, I hadn't realized how far back bi-sym went! Its before deutero/proto-stomia!

Apparently that part of my rationale is wrong, but I think the overall point has some staying power - that something that happens so early, and becomes so prevalent, is something that we can expect to happen in similiar environments on other planets.


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jar
Member
Posts: 28838
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


(1)
Message 148 of 178 (671139)
08-22-2012 2:53 PM
Reply to: Message 146 by Blue Jay
08-22-2012 12:49 PM


Re: Rare sapience
As a further illustration of this, take the elephant. As you mentioned, the elephant lives on land, has a long lifespan, a prehensile limb, a complex social life and extensive parental care. Clearly, giving all these attributes to an intelligent animal isn't enough to generate tool-making behavior.

Exactly. However taking any one or more of those attributes away does make it nearly impossible to develop anything like human technology.

There is yet another attribute I believe is essential and that is "need."

You mention writing Science Fiction which reminded me of a story outline I was working on, oh about forty years or so ago.

The question I had was "What would a species that was naturally telepathic, could teleport and use telekinesis and had a group consciousness be like? Would they ever develop anything like human technology?" The more I thought about it the less likely it seemed they would have any technology to the extent we might not even recognize them as intelligent.

Since language is never more than an approximation of either thought or experience, if a species could transmit the actual experience, why would they develop a lower content medium?

If they could simply go where the weather was nice or the food was available why develop shelters or clothing or agriculture?

In your example you mention technology allowing humans to go to differing climates, but it can be equally valid to say that going to different climates created a need that drove the technology.

Going back to the hypothetical mental critters, with teleportation it is easier to go to where a desired item is than to bring that item to you and so trade would be unlikely to develop, and trade played a big part in building a culture of technology and knowledge transfer in humans.

Remember, I'm not questioning how we arrived at any insights but rather what is likely that we will find in alien life forms.

My point is that it is NOT just intelligence that led to human success but rather a whole group of fortuitous things and that it is very unlikely that we would expect to find anything like humans anywhere.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 146 by Blue Jay, posted 08-22-2012 12:49 PM Blue Jay has responded

Replies to this message:
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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1702
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 149 of 178 (671150)
08-22-2012 4:39 PM
Reply to: Message 148 by jar
08-22-2012 2:53 PM


Re: Rare sapience
My point is that it is NOT just intelligence that led to human success but rather a whole group of fortuitous things and that it is very unlikely that we would expect to find anything like humans anywhere.

This may be your point now but it wasn't your point when you said,

Is intelligence really beneficial?

but I see little evidence that intelligence offers any advantage or that it is a characteristic likely to be found in biological life on other planets.

And if we look at the history of life on this earth, more intelligent species don't seem to have any particular advantage over less intelligent species.

My original point was that intelligence is a clear survival advantage and is likely to persist and to increase in any environment where resources are limited. Blue Jay's example of the evolution of h. sapiens from lemurs is a clear example of such.

The fact that there are more unintelligent life forms on this planet than intelligent ones is immaterial. Some niches are [abe; bigger and] easier to fill than others. When they are full the impetus for higher development is created. So, yes there is likely way more unintelligent life in the universe but wherever it exists there will be a driver for more intelligent life to evolve, as long as the resources are limited.

Oni's definition of intelligence is fine but that level of intelligence doesn't just pop out of thin air. It develops over time and I contend that it is likely to develop wherever evolution is at work.

Edited by Dogmafood, : as noted


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jar
Member
Posts: 28838
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 150 of 178 (671155)
08-22-2012 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 149 by ProtoTypical
08-22-2012 4:39 PM


Re: Rare sapience
You are free to believe that but that is NOT what the evidence shows.

The fact that there are far more types of unintelligent critters is relevant because it shows that other methods work even better than intelligence.

Again, you are free to contend that Oni's level of intelligence is likely to develop wherever evolution is at work, but frankly, I see absolutely no reason to think that is the case and see lots of evidence that says in most cases it would be impossible.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 149 by ProtoTypical, posted 08-22-2012 4:39 PM ProtoTypical has responded

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