Is our form of evolution inevitable?

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Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:26 pm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... ce+News%29

The reference above refers to a bioligist's idea that the general pattern of evolution is inevitable. Such things as intelligence, limbs, winged flight in some species, predators shaped like sharks, and so on, will always arise. If that is the case, then intelligence on other worlds is also inevitable. We are left with Fermi's question of where are they?

So, is that biologist wrong? Is the general pattern of evolution inevitable?

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby OutOfBreath » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:38 pm

Isn't that impossible to answer with our sample size of 1?

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Jul 03, 2015 9:20 pm

Consider that we evolved from one type of ancestral critter. If another type had won that primordial tussle, would things be the same now? We don't know.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby TJrandom » Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:41 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Consider that we evolved from one type of ancestral critter. If another type had won that primordial tussle, would things be the same now? We don't know.


Not only that - but we couldn`t know....

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:18 pm

True. But what I meant was that the OP item assumes that there would be humanoids here now. We don't know that.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jul 04, 2015 12:43 am

I tend to agree with you guys, but there is clearly at least one biologist who does not. I sometimes wonder about abiogenesis on other worlds. We do not know what the conditions were that led to it happening on Earth. So we cannot know how frequently it might happen elsewhere. To get evolution to the point of developing an intelligence, we must have abiogenesis, followed by a long period where the environment stays stable, in order to permit that level of evolution. It took 3 to 4 billion years on Earth.

I tend to think the Rare Earth Hypothesis is probably correct. The long list of essential conditions for abiogenesis followed by sufficient evolution to gain intelligence, is probably rare indeed.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Poodle » Sat Jul 04, 2015 12:46 am

Essential conditions or sufficient evolution or both?

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:00 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:I tend to agree with you guys, but there is clearly at least one biologist who does not. I sometimes wonder about abiogenesis on other worlds. We do not know what the conditions were that led to it happening on Earth. So we cannot know how frequently it might happen elsewhere. To get evolution to the point of developing an intelligence, we must have abiogenesis, followed by a long period where the environment stays stable, in order to permit that level of evolution. It took 3 to 4 billion years on Earth.

I tend to think the Rare Earth Hypothesis is probably correct. The long list of essential conditions for abiogenesis followed by sufficient evolution to gain intelligence, is probably rare indeed.

Which would mean there's probably only a few million Earths.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:51 am

Lance Kennedy wrote: So, is that biologist wrong? Is the general pattern of evolution inevitable?


He is absolutely wrong for some very simple reasons.

Firstly all life on earth shares the same common ancestor legacy that is unique to earth. Our current human body shape of four limbs was already "locked in" with chordates ( four fins on earliest old word fish) in the Cambrian period. We were already locked into sexual reproduction. It would be bizarre to think that life forms on other planets would have the same 3.8 billion year evolutionary legacy as we had on earth and sexual reproduction.

Secondly, "convergent evolution" is when a mammal (dolphin) and fish (shark) have similar evolved physical forms to have maximum efficiency in the same environment. However, other planets are going to have higher or lower gravity, different atmospheres, different solar energy inputs, different "annual" orbits, different rotation speeds and so on. Therefore the most efficient shape for that alien environment is not going to be the same as that on earth. Different environments will result in different evolutionary convergences.

Thirdly, a dog cannot evolve into a fish. Our current physical shapes are the current manifestations of all the legacy evolutionary changes dating back from our original common ancestor. A centipede with a 100 legs may be the best solution to a heavy gravity and dense atmospheric planet and it is not going to evolve four limbs and a head just because humans did on earth. Human will be extinct in 500,000 years. The next species, whatever it is, will think "its the best universal design".
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:26 am

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:Which would mean there's probably only a few million Earths.



Actually I disagree with this.

Think of some of the essential factors required for life to form on a planet, and evolve to intelligence. It would require stable climate conditions for 3 to 4 billion years. Some of the things that would prevent this are :

1. Having an elliptical orbit instead of an almost circular one, like Earth. Extra-solar planets are overwhelmingly of the elliptical model, by at least 100 to 1.
2. Not having a big moon. It appears that our moon is needed to stabilise the Earth's spin.
3. Having an unstable sun. Our sun is unusually stable. Most stars are a lot more variable.

In addition, you would have to have a planet within the zone in which water is liquid. You would need the planet to be the right size and right chemical composition. It would need plate tectonics (rare in our solar system). You would need to have no large planets close to the sun, which would toss the small planet into an unstable orbit.

And so on.

I do not claim to know all the conditons required, or how rare each one is. But, imagine for argument's sake that there are 12 essential conditions, and each one is found only in 10% of otherwise suitable star systems. That means only 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 start systems will have a life bearing planet with intelligence. Or, to put it another way, only 1 in 10 BIG galaxies will have such life anywhere.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:28 am

I won't imagine for argument's sake, because we don't know which imaginings are correct. Anybody can win an argument if they set the rules. I don't play that way.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:31 am

The numbers are uncertain, Gawd. The essential conditions are not.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:33 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Think of some of the essential factors required for life to form on a planet, and evolve to intelligence. It would require stable climate conditions for 3 to 4 billion years.


Earth did not have a stable environment for 3 to 4 billion years. All life on earth was Anaerobic (no oxygen) because there was no oxygen. There was no life out of water because of radiation. Today animals breath the extremely dangerous reactive poison oxygen, that turns iron into rust! We now have a totally different atmosphere and life moved onto land only 400,000,000 million years ago.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:34 am

Matthew

Those are changes made by life itself, not anything related to the basic nature of Earth, its orbit, or anything else related to the star system it exists in. As life evolves, it changes its environment. But I was talking of what kind of environment would permit the life to evolve in the first place.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:19 am

Lance Kennedy wrote: It would require stable climate conditions for 3 to 4 billion years.

Lance Kennedy wrote:Those are changes made by life itself, not anything related to the basic nature of Earth,

So....no stable climate conditions.......

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jul 04, 2015 4:58 am

Still missing the point, Matthew.

There are exoplanets where the orbit is so eccentric that the surface temperature of those planets goes from melting lead to freezing CO2. Earth has a nearly circular orbit, where the worst variation is from freezing water to melting it. We know from observation that living things can tolerate a small change in environmental conditions, but only a small change. In spite of that, there have been times when most life forms on Earth have gone extinct. Yet, over 3 to 4 billion years, at least a few species survived each crisis. It would not take much extra in some of those crises for all life to go extinct.

How many worlds around other stars have stayed stable enough over 3 to 4 billion years so that some life forms at least can survive every change? My view is that it is probably not too many. Our knowledge of exoplanets is still minimal, but what we have seen would indicate that most are inimical to life.

The changes that life itself imposes on the planet are still small. Yet one at least (making oxygen) would have killed off most of the existing life forms. I am suggesting that very few planets would fail to do that at some stage, or at least kill off all the more advanced life forms.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby TJrandom » Sat Jul 04, 2015 6:27 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:... A centipede with a 100 legs may be the best solution to a heavy gravity and dense atmospheric planet and it is not going to evolve four limbs and a head just because humans did on earth.


That remindes me of a joke.........

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Matthew Ellard » Sat Jul 04, 2015 6:29 am

TJrandom wrote:
Matthew Ellard wrote:... A centipede with a 100 legs may be the best solution to a heavy gravity and dense atmospheric planet and it is not going to evolve four limbs and a head just because humans did on earth.


That remindes me of a joke.........


Go for it. You tell good jokes.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:49 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:The numbers are uncertain, Gawd. The essential conditions are not.

And that's why I say we have no idea of knowing.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Scott Mayers » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:56 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150702163902.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

The reference above refers to a bioligist's idea that the general pattern of evolution is inevitable. Such things as intelligence, limbs, winged flight in some species, predators shaped like sharks, and so on, will always arise. If that is the case, then intelligence on other worlds is also inevitable. We are left with Fermi's question of where are they?

So, is that biologist wrong? Is the general pattern of evolution inevitable?

"Intelligence" may be inevitable but I don't believe this requires the same form or degree to which we assume of ourselves as necessary. I see intelligence in most animals to some degree and believe that it is just an additive advantage when or where survival for such species requires adapting to different or variable environments only. Even within our own species, "intelligence" is only applicably functional when we find a need for it. And it is environmentally enhanced to those who find some resistance to goals that they couldn't achieve without.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:54 pm

The thing about intelligence, Scott, is that it is widespread on Earth. It is found in molluscs (octopus, squid and cuttlefish), some birds (crows and parrots), cetaceans, elephants, and great apes. This widespread evolution of intelligence is the reason that the biologist involved claims it would be an inevitable consequence of evolution anywhere.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Gawdzilla Sama » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:52 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:The thing about intelligence, Scott, is that it is widespread on Earth. It is found in molluscs (octopus, squid and cuttlefish), some birds (crows and parrots), cetaceans, elephants, and great apes. This widespread evolution of intelligence is the reason that the biologist involved claims it would be an inevitable consequence of evolution anywhere.

And they don't know if it's a fluke here or the norm everywhere. People that are absolutely sure about something they can't possibly know for sure are called ... Yep, idiots.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Scott Mayers » Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:33 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:The thing about intelligence, Scott, is that it is widespread on Earth. It is found in molluscs (octopus, squid and cuttlefish), some birds (crows and parrots), cetaceans, elephants, and great apes. This widespread evolution of intelligence is the reason that the biologist involved claims it would be an inevitable consequence of evolution anywhere.

I assumed that you were meaning to question whether evolution throughout the universe would necessitate a human-like form of intellectual character. I think it would be unnecessary but believe that such forms of intelligence would certainly exist on many such worlds. I just think that it would be rare to expect that evolution should favor an upward or some supreme or intellectually improved form of intelligence. It is the error of ours to think that evolution favors a more improved form of life. While evolution gets more complex in time, the "fit" that evolution referred to meant only that it favors entities to match the environments they are in, not favor an improved form of life. Intelligence is an evolutionary response for entities that must survive in more variation of environmental needs. Most animals don't alter their environments rapidly within their lives as humans do. A lion cannot survive in the wild here in Canada, for instance.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Jul 05, 2015 3:17 am

Scott

There is actually a hypothesis among some biologists to the effect that long term evolution will always lead to greater complexity. I do not know for sure whether that is correct or not, but so far that rule appears to apply, as long as you are looking at substantial time scales.

Whether long term evolution on another planet would lead to anything looking at all human is a matter of debate, and I tend to think that complexity and intelligence could come in many different shaped bodies.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Scott Mayers » Sun Jul 05, 2015 10:53 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:Scott

There is actually a hypothesis among some biologists to the effect that long term evolution will always lead to greater complexity. I do not know for sure whether that is correct or not, but so far that rule appears to apply, as long as you are looking at substantial time scales.

Whether long term evolution on another planet would lead to anything looking at all human is a matter of debate, and I tend to think that complexity and intelligence could come in many different shaped bodies.


I already agreed that evolution leads to more complexity. But "complexity" doesn't mean "improved" or "better". Intelligence as you seem to be referring is thought of as a 'superior' factor. While it has such value to us, there is no real meaning by this to nature itself. All that matters is that the process of intelligence serves our purpose to improve OUR chances of survival. And this evolved strong in humans because we altered environments and this favored those past humans who accidentally had the fortune to better intelligence.

Ants too are 'intelligent'. But the type or degree is limited to their purposes and so they don't require our degree of it. If you could ask any other living entity if they preferred 'our' form of intelligence, I'm sure they would vote for their own form of life and degree of intelligence. Intelligence is also a kind of 'curse' to which I believed was what the story of Adam and Eve originally intended. It was likely an original secular interpretation (by the collective society regardless of which religious groups may differ) to represent that humans are intelligent and acts like a curse because we are unfortunately able to reflect upon our causes due to curiosity. But our preference is to live easy as Adam and Eve prior to becoming intellectual, like children. Only when one is faced with struggle do we begin to think. The ancients may have interpreted intelligence as both the virtue of wisdom (as the gods) but our naive desire to resolve our curiosity (to bite the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge) means that it is both irreversible and requires responsibility to that wisdom, especially with regards to struggling to survive and eventually die.

The ease to which we live tends to favor less intelligence and is why the optimist of such people tend to be so ignorant of reality. I don't believe that our intelligence implies something more nor less significant to reality as nature would 'perceive' it. And so while I think that other such forms of our form of intelligence exists out there, it is NOT inevitable that it should occur. And only those beings that require relatively quick environmental changes will evolve to our degree.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Frank Hoffman » Sun Jul 05, 2015 2:05 pm

Scott Mayers wrote:Intelligence is an evolutionary response for entities that must survive in more variation of environmental needs.

Some theories suggest that when living organisms first achieved photosynthesis they were so successful they loaded the atmosphere with so much oxygen it cooled the earth into a snowball, killing off nearly all life. Perhaps our intelligence which makes us so successful will have a similar effect in the opposite direction and, as a poorly evolved virus does, kill our host (planet).
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:45 pm

I have an alternate speculation.

As I have already said, I tend to think the Rare Earth Hypothesis is probably more or less correct, meaning that there are very, very few worlds out there with advanced life. Probably very few with any life at all.

If that idea is correct, then human intelligence may be the means of 'seeding' our galaxy with life. Humans are on the verge of unlimited space travel. Give us 1000 years (a mere eye blink) and we will be sending probes to other star systems. Give us 10 million years (a slightly longer eye blink) and those who have descended from humans will have visited every star system in the galaxy. We already are holding international conferences on 'Terraforming', remaking other worlds into other versions of the Earth, which will involve transferring living things to other worlds. In that 10 million time period, we may well change billions of dead worlds into living jewels.

In time, our distant descendants may look back and feel great joy in a job well done, making over the galaxy from a dead one into one burgeoning with life.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Frank Hoffman » Sun Jul 05, 2015 10:39 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:...making over the galaxy from a dead one into one burgeoning with life.

Yours is a much preferable conjecture; perhaps we should conduct ourselves as to make it happen.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Flash » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:10 am

I certainly conduct myself as to make it happen. I try not to eat the last couple of members of any semi extinct species. I don't do trophy murder of species which are going semi extinct quickly. No large scale massacres of people I don't like and I try to avoid driving to a store on the other side of the street.

Yes, I tend to do all that and then I admire myself in the mirror but there are other people on this planet who couldn't care less. They do massacres, destroy habitats complete with the occupants, drive cars with engines in the 500 horse power range and the fuel consumption out of this world, take the mountain tops off to get to the dirty coal which they burn in huge quantities. And they have weapons that can vaporize whole cities, that they keep ready to fire with the hair trigger mechanism prone to go off either by a malfunction or a mistake or because the owners are certifiably crazy.

Lance, you are such an optimist. ;)
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:06 am

Flash

We could easily start a new thread, about whether the optimistic or pessimistic view is more likely.

But I would like to make one point. I believe that the last 50 odd years are the first in the history of humanity, in which people actually value nature. Prior to that, the only value regarding nature was how best to exploit it. Today we have ecologists, and conservationists for the first time ever, trying to preserve rather than destroy. Sure we have a long way to go, but we have made a start.

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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Flash » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:58 am

The human effort to preserve nature is much older than 50 years although it was never done on a large scale. Gardens and especially the botanical gardens have been around for a very long time. The hanging gardens of Babylon first come to mind. Italians were (are) famous for their love of gardens ever since the ancient Rome.

There is a still functioning garden in Cornwall, England which is over 700 years old. It was first built by a Norman aristocratic family that settled there after the conquest. But the oldest functioning botanical garden is the one in Padua in Italy, comes from the sixteenth century. The Oxford Botanical garden in...well Oxford, England was built in the seventeenth century.

I think the oldest national park in the world The Yellowstone was opened in 1872. But you are right. The scope and the energy dedicated towards preservation of nature is now global and that is a fairly recent phenomenon.
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Re: Is our form of evolution inevitable?

Postby Hex » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:41 am

I wish when people discuss topics like this, they'd add, "Life as we know it." Because without doing so opens the door to life we are unaware of.
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