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Author Topic:   What type of biological life will more than likely be found on other planets?
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 50 of 178 (670721)
08-17-2012 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Taq
08-16-2012 3:42 PM


Re: Hands are Handy
Hi, Taq.

Taq writes:

With land and the right amount of gravity I think we can safely assume that flight will evolve since it evolved several times in the evolution of life on this planet.

I also think that flight will be a very common feature in alien life.

But, just to challenge it a little bit, we could also observe that only two phyla on Earth ever evolved flight. These were also the only two phyla that evolved an articulated skeleton and jointed limbs. But, most things with an articulated skeleton cannot fly.

So, logically, it could be argued that flight requires an articulated skeleton and jointed limbs. Given that these features have only evolved twice on Earth, it could be argued that most lineages will not evolve articulated skeletons or jointed limbs. It could also be argued that, even if there is an articulated skeleton and jointed limbs, most lineages will not evolve flight. From this perspective, it could plausibly be argued that flight will be uncommon.

Obviously, this is from the perspective of individual lineages, and not from the perspective of an entire evolutionary tree, which may change the game entirely, but it does provide an alternative perspective.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 43 by Taq, posted 08-16-2012 3:42 PM Taq has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by jar, posted 08-17-2012 3:33 PM Blue Jay has not yet responded
 Message 52 by Taq, posted 08-17-2012 4:46 PM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 66 of 178 (670773)
08-18-2012 9:37 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by Taq
08-17-2012 4:46 PM


Re: Hands are Handy
Hi, Taq.

Taq writes:

We can also point out that an articulated skeleton evolved twice. There seems to be a general trend towards this condition for ambulatory terrestrial species.

Well, I think we know that this condition is beneficial for ambulatory terrestrial species, because both lineages in which the condition appeared were very successful. But, it isn't a matter of where these characteristics are successful, but where they can evolve.

In both cases, the articulated skeleton predated terrestriality. So, it wouldn't be accurate to say that terrestriality selects for articulated skeletons. So, under what conditions does an articulated skeleton evolve? They apparently evolved as marine ambulators and swimmers.

But, skeletal creatures don't seem to be unusually successful as marine ambulators: soft-bodied molluscs and radial echinoderms are just as competitive. Skeletal creatures were exceptionally successful as swimmers, though, but other groups were, as well (e.g. squid). To me, this suggests that the complete lack of articulated skeletons would be a very real possibility for an alien biosphere.

(Again: devil's advocate here. I also think skeletons would be relatively likely to evolve).


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Taq, posted 08-17-2012 4:46 PM Taq has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 67 of 178 (670774)
08-18-2012 10:11 PM
Reply to: Message 62 by jar
08-18-2012 7:43 PM


Re: Hands are Handy
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

...I see little evidence that intelligence offers any advantage...

That intelligence offers evolutionary advantages is pretty obvious. Only a select few species have spread across the entire globe, one of which is us, and most of the others of which were helped along by our actions. And, it's a demonstrable fact that our intelligence was the key to our expansion across the globe. Denying this is pretty silly.

Intelligence is clearly beneficial. For example, exploiting a new food source typically requires some evolutionary change, which entails mutations and natural selection and several generations, and blah blah blah.

But, with intelligence, a single individual can learn how to exploit a new food source within a single lifetime. And, the more intelligence, the more new food sources an individual can learn to exploit in a single lifetime. This is highly useful in a variable environment, or in an environment in which food is difficult to find.

However, human intelligence (let's use the word "sapience") is perhaps less useful. Physiologically, our big brain is more expensive than other animals' brains; and the added versatility sapience provides over, for example, lemur intelligence, is probably more a luxury than an evolutionary necessity. This means it will only prove evolutionarily successful under certain circumstances.

So, will sapient life be rare? Probably. There are probably fewer life-bearing worlds with sapient life than without. But, it seems pretty naive and silly to say that it isn't advantageous, and even more naive and silly to use this to justify saying that intelligent life will not be found on other planets.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 62 by jar, posted 08-18-2012 7:43 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 68 by jar, posted 08-18-2012 10:20 PM Blue Jay has responded
 Message 70 by RAZD, posted 08-18-2012 11:23 PM Blue Jay has acknowledged this reply

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 72 of 178 (670782)
08-19-2012 12:40 AM
Reply to: Message 68 by jar
08-18-2012 10:20 PM


Re: Hands are Handy
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

You are free to hold that belief, but I don't see any evidence that supports it. Exploiting a new food source is not an indication of intelligence that I can see.

Really? I realize that the burden of proof is on me, but if you're going to be the skeptic and play the "deliberately obtuse" game, you have to say more than, "nope, no evidence" in each one of your posts.

jar writes:

As I have said many times, human intelligence is an outlier and so far the jury is out on whether intelligence will prove to be an advantage.

Humans have adapted to every terrestrial habitat on the planet in under 1,000,000 years. No other species has even come close to that. And this is demonstrably related to our intelligence, because we couldn't have done it if we hadn't figured out how to make clothing, control fire, hunt hundreds of different kinds of prey, build tools for processing many types of materials, and harvest thousands of kinds of plant foods.

jar writes:

But are we more successful than cockroaches?

Do we have to be?


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 68 by jar, posted 08-18-2012 10:20 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 75 by jar, posted 08-19-2012 9:07 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(2)
Message 82 of 178 (670826)
08-19-2012 10:54 PM
Reply to: Message 75 by jar
08-19-2012 9:07 AM


Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

Yes, in the single example of humans, they, as a species developed technology and it is that technology, not their intelligence, that allowed them to spread.

I disagree with you. There are a whole lot of examples of animals that have developed "technology" without sapience. For example, beavers have mastered simple stick-and-mud building techniques. Also, there are wasps that make paper by chewing up bits of mud and plant tissue, then build nests out of it. Caddisfly larvae protect themselves from predators by building a body-case from pebbles. Monkeys, apes and crows can fashion simple tools for small tasks.

But, none of these animals has achieved the level of success of humans. It's not technology, per se, that facilitated our expansion across the globe: it's the ability to continuously produce new kinds of technology when new needs arise. And we can only do that because we are intelligent.

jar writes:

...we just ain't been here long enough to know if human intelligence is going to be an advantage.

It already has been an advantage: it made it possible for our species to spread across the planet. What more evidence of an advantage do you want?

You seem to be taking a "big picture" approach (it isn't advantageous unless it lasts for a very long time), which doesn't make any sense. Evolution doesn't take future consequences into consideration. It may very well be the case that sapient beings tend to overpopulate and spoil their home worlds, but that isn't going to prevent sapience from evolving in the first place.

The simple truth is that intelligence is advantageous; and it's likely to be advantageous in almost any environment. So, it's reasonable to think that it will have evolved on other worlds.

The only question would be whether or not the advantages provided by sapience will justify the expenses. And that is probably going to make sapience somewhat rare.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 75 by jar, posted 08-19-2012 9:07 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 85 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 8:35 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 83 of 178 (670827)
08-19-2012 11:20 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by jar
08-19-2012 10:46 PM


Re: Accumulated Intelligence
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

Cockroaches and clams have been far better at survival than humans so far.

There are 4500 species of cockroach. Which species do you think is a better survivor than humans? As near as I can tell, most species of cockroach are pretty unsuccessful. Some of them are even endangered.

A few species of cockroach are successful and have expanded over wide areas of the globe. However, the success of these few species is entirely contingent on their ability to co-habitate with humans: if our society dies tonight, cockroaches will die shortly thereafter, because they can't survive without our indoor heating and all the food sources we provide them.

Now, since you question whether human intelligence is advantageous, I think, in order to be consistent, you must also question any strategy that can only be really successful if humans are successful.

And I have no idea what you're getting at with the clams.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by jar, posted 08-19-2012 10:46 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 87 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 8:36 AM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 88 of 178 (670878)
08-20-2012 1:50 PM
Reply to: Message 85 by jar
08-20-2012 8:35 AM


Re: Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

You are of course free to disagree with me, but so far you have not presented anything really convincing.

I don't know why you don't find it convincing, because you haven't presented anything at all yet. Your responses to me generally fit into a predictable formula:

First, you kind of avoid engaging any of my specific points and state that you're not convinced by them (for example, see the above quote).

Then, you take some of the words I wrote, rearrange them in some random order, and dismiss the resulting statement (which never bears any resemblance to the point I was making), like you did right here:

jar writes:

Even if you include beaver dams monkeys, apes and crows, you still have not established that intelligence is an advantage or likely to evolve.

Then, finally, you ask me some silly question about how humans compare to cockroaches or which type of animal will be more common, as you did right here:

jar writes:

If you look at the one sample we know of and draw up a two column list of the intelligent technology critters and the unintelligent non technology critters, which list will be longer?

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with these posts: I'm not clear on the points you're trying to make, because they don't seem to be coming from anywhere coherent.

From what I can gather, you seem to be playing with a very one-dimensional perspective: X is a winning strategy and Y is a losing strategy, as demonstrated by the numbers. Therefore, we will probably find X on other worlds, but not Y.

But, let's look at the one sample biosphere we have available to us. All the immensely successful, non-intelligent creatures on Earth utterly failed to prevent intelligent humans from evolving and being successful. Why is this? It's because evolution is a game of niches, not a game of numbers. Even though non-intelligent creatures are outrageously successful, there are still niches for intelligent creatures to fill. And, furthermore, despite the success of non-intelligence, there was still enough drive for intelligence to make it evolve in the first place.

I submit that, somewhere in the Grand Cosmos, there will be niches for other intelligent creatures to fill, because, in some cases, intelligence seems to work. How many of these niches will we find? I don't know, probably not that many: but I'm pretty sure it'll be a fair bit above zero.

Edited by Blue Jay, : Rewording


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 85 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 8:35 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 89 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 2:48 PM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 90 of 178 (670885)
08-20-2012 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 89 by jar
08-20-2012 2:48 PM


Re: Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

Did you by any chance notice what the topic is?

Yes, I did. The topic is whether or not we are likely to find intelligent life on other planets.

Did you by any chance notice that I have been commenting on that topic?

Edited by Blue Jay, : "be"/"by"


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 89 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 2:48 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 91 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 5:44 PM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


(3)
Message 94 of 178 (670907)
08-20-2012 11:34 PM
Reply to: Message 91 by jar
08-20-2012 5:44 PM


Re: Rare sapience
Okay, Jar, here's a summary of our discussion so far:

  1. You said that you don't believe intelligence offers any evolutionary advantages (Message 62).

  2. I responded that our intelligence seems to have been behind our unprecedented expansion across the globe, which indicates that it clearly is providing an exceptional evolutionary advantage (Message 67).

  3. You responded by saying that the jury is still out, and nobody really knows whether intelligence is evolutionarily advantageous (Message 68).

  4. I repeated my earlier rationale, which is that humans have expanded across the globe in a way that no other species ever has, and asserted that this is largely due to our intelligence, which provides clear evidence that intelligence has evolutionary advantages (Message 72).

  5. You then told me that the advantages of intelligence weren't the point. You also said that it was technology, and not intelligence, that made humans so successful (Message 75).

  6. I then argued that it wasn't the technology itself, but the ability to produce new technology on demand, that made humans successful; and identified that ability as intelligence (Message 82).

  7. You repeated that the evolutionary-advantage thing wasn't the point, said something that demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of my point about intelligence and technology, and asked me something about comparing intelligent creatures and non-intelligent creatures (Message 85).

  8. By this point, I was confused that you think your main discussion point on this thread is off-topic. I tried to explain that you can't determine whether something is evolutionarily advantageous---and therefore likely to evolve on other planets---simply by observing that it is less common than an alternative strategy, because the success of one strategy does not diminish the success of another (Message 88).

  9. You asked me if I had forgotten what the topic was (Message 89).

  10. I said that I remember what the topic is, and that I was still commenting on it (Message 90).

  11. You said that you didn't think my comments have anything to do with the topic, and decided that you would have to go slow so I can keep up (Message 91).

So, to summarize the summary: you said that intelligence isn't evolutionarily advantageous, so it likely won't be found on other planets. Then, I said it is advantageous and therefore is likely to be found on other planets, and pressed the issue a little. Then, you said it was off-topic, decided to talk about something else, and couldn't understand how my comments related to the topic.

-----

I don't know what else to tell you, Jar: I feel like I've kept up with the discussion very well and have focused very clearly on the topic, which is whether intelligent life is likely to be found on other planets. I have no idea why you think my comments have been off-topic or why you think my points are not convincing.

And, since other people have expressed similar confusion about your arguments, I'm relatively confident that I'm not the cause of the discussion problems we're having.

The bottom line is that intelligence is advantageous, because, in the one case we know it evolved, it played an integral role in an unprecedented expansion across the entire globe. Therefore, it seems reasonable to think it would be similarly successful on other planets.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 91 by jar, posted 08-20-2012 5:44 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 100 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:13 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 101 of 178 (670940)
08-21-2012 9:22 AM
Reply to: Message 100 by jar
08-21-2012 9:13 AM


Re: Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

Do you agree that so far we have only one sample of biological life, what evolved here on earth?

Yes, I agree.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 100 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:13 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 105 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:34 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 104 of 178 (670943)
08-21-2012 9:30 AM
Reply to: Message 99 by Straggler
08-21-2012 8:07 AM


Re: Accumulated Intelligence
Hi, Straggler.

Straggler writes:

But man can, and does, hunt and eat all of these things. And we do it without being particularly strong, without having very impressive teeth or claws etc. We are able to do it because we as a species have taken the intelligence route and run with it to a degree greater than anything else on our planet.

This raises another question: why haven't the other major predators taken the intelligence route instead of the tooth-and-claw route? Furthermore, most of the other notably intelligent animals seem to not be predators.

Could it be that the juxtaposition of technology and predation is the route to sapience?


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 99 by Straggler, posted 08-21-2012 8:07 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 110 by Straggler, posted 08-21-2012 9:56 AM Blue Jay has responded
 Message 138 by Straggler, posted 08-22-2012 9:33 AM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 107 of 178 (670949)
08-21-2012 9:40 AM
Reply to: Message 102 by jar
08-21-2012 9:23 AM


Re: Accumulated Intelligence
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

Sorry but I still don't see how evolution can accumulate intelligence.

Take primates as an example.

The most "primitive" lineage is the prosimians (lemurs, tarsiers, aye-ayes, etc.). They have modest intelligence, perhaps slightly higher than that of other mammals.

Monkeys evolved from prosimian ancestors, and are generally more intelligent than prosimians.

Apes evolved from monkeys, and are generally more intelligent than monkeys.

Humans evolved from apes, and are generally more intelligent than apes.

Each new lineage has higher intelligence than its ancestors. This resulted in animals that are more and more and more intelligent than previous species.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 102 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:23 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 109 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:53 AM Blue Jay has not yet responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 108 of 178 (670950)
08-21-2012 9:41 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by jar
08-21-2012 9:34 AM


Re: Rare sapience
jar writes:

Do you agree that in that sample only one line of critters has developed "Human Like Technology"?

I agree.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 105 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:34 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 111 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:56 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 112 of 178 (670954)
08-21-2012 9:58 AM
Reply to: Message 111 by jar
08-21-2012 9:56 AM


Re: Rare sapience
jar writes:

Do you agree that there are other intelligent critters such as the cephalopods, elephants, crows and ravens and several of the other primates?

I agree


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 111 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 9:56 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 113 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 10:15 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 1081 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 114 of 178 (670959)
08-21-2012 10:56 AM
Reply to: Message 113 by jar
08-21-2012 10:15 AM


Re: Rare sapience
Hi, Jar.

jar writes:

Do you agree that humans were able to expand their territory due to a very few technological advances, specifically domestication of fire and clothing and the fact that they were omnivores?

I disagree with this. We don't really know the dates of these advances with any certainty, so it's impossible to tell from the evidence. However, the expansion of humans across the globe was a very complex process, involving multiple waves and even some back-and-forth. I have a hard time attributing such a complex process to such a simple, specific explanation.


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

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 113 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 10:15 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 115 by jar, posted 08-21-2012 11:05 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
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