Any experts on evolution here?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Io Aurelia, Mar 10, 2002.

  1. The other day on a web forum it was put to me that humans will most likely evolve to have other senses as well as sight, hearing, smell etc. (this person was coming from a newage perspective, and I think they were implying something about esp/magick).

    My argument was something like this: Even though it's theoretically possible for humans to evolve to have another sense, in reality it's unlikely. You have to take into account how evolution works, slight mutations happen randomly and are only retained if they enhance the animal's survival prospects. So for an entirely new sense to evolve, it would have to enhance the competitive edge significantly. Also, if you look at all the complex organisms on earth (some of which have been around for much longer than people, and have had much longer time to evolve), you tend to see more or less the same set of senses. Although some animals have better smell or sight etc than others, generally there isn't a great deal of variation in the senses themself. Maybe if our environment and the way we live changes dramatically this will be reflected in our evolution, but as things stand at the moment, while small mutations might happen over time, the probability of an entirely new sense evolving is not very likely.

    I only have a laypersons knowledge of evolution, so I'm not sure if I'm on the right track here. It would really appreciate it if someone with a better understanding of evolution could tell me if my reasoning is correct, or if there's anything else to add to this argument.

    Thanks,
    Io
     
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  3. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

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  5. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    What if we, through technology or genetics, enhance ourselves so that we have new senses?

    Does that count as evolution? Actually I think it does. But the process would lose its randomness and take on intelligent direction.

    Cris
     
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  7. kmguru Staff Member

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    Someday we may find out that the randomness of evolution may not be random....

    Growing horns on our head or a tail is possible but is it needed? On the otherhand we may do a genetic change to change our skin color at will (red, yellow, green, blue designs...)

    How about changing hair colors through nanotechnology? One tap - redhead, two tap - purple and so on...
     
  8. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

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    I was thinking more along the lines of extending our vision into the infra-red and ultra-viloet, or beyond, and extending our hearing range.

    And further out - how about growing wings?

    Cris
     
  9. kmguru Staff Member

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    Increasing the bandwidth of visual and audio spectrum sounds good (like Jodi in startrek) but can we get more information and pleasure out of it that we do not get using manmade tools?

    For example, if we increase our hearing to 10 to 100,000 Htz, what does that bring us? The cricket sound at night will drive me crazy.

    On the visual side, we definitely would benefit infrared as night vision and UV for bacteria growth and other analytical data.
     
  10. Raimon Registered Member

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    well, I'm afraid you may perhaps discover how many animals actually *communicate*, and how much more efficiently some of them might be doing that...
     
  11. kmguru Staff Member

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    Raimon

    Welcome to sciforums. Nature has a way to pare down inefficiencies...may be that is why we do not have eagle eyes or dof ears. Instead we have a brain and language. As we get too much information, hopefully we may develop high bandwidth organic communication in about 10,000 years or use a computer now....

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  12. paulsamuel Registered Senior Member

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    human evolution of new senses

    A couple of comments on evolution:

    you stated, "So for an entirely new sense to evolve, it would have to enhance the competitive edge significantly." This may be true for humans but even slight selective advantages can sweep through populations. The reason I say it may be true for humans is that even selectively disadvantageous genes are retained in modern human populations due mainly to advances in the medical sciences, and these genes have almost an equal chance of being passed to the next generation. Because selection is relative, a gene conferring increased senses would have no more chance of being passed than the other gene (the one we have now). It may be maintained in a population, but wouldn't sweep through the population.

    Also, increases in senses cannot arise de novo. It would probably require large morphological changes probably under the control of multiple genes, that probably don't exist. So, abilities we currently have could be increased, but new sensory abilities are unlikely (we just don't have the raw material to make them).

    A more interesting topic in my opinion is an increase in human abilities due to technological and scientific advances. Imagine if we have inherent abilities that we are unaware of, such as mental abilities. Very little is known about the brain's capacity and its potential.
     
  13. kmguru Staff Member

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    That has already happened, but the society is not ready to absorb them. I have two very smart consultants who can very quickly predict pattern in a company performance and design proper infrastructure to access them. Unfortunately, the clients have severe cognitive bias that is based on old methodology and is very difficult to change. It is akin to terms like 'white trash' or 'hillibilly' mentality.

    Due to the advancement in science and technology, there is a serious need for multi-discipline people. Yet the trend is to 'silo' the subject to even sub-subjects. Imagine to work on your car, or lawn mower, you need two screw driver experts - one to ununscrew the flat-head screws and the other, philips screw. Let us not even get into the rachets, pliers, drills, and WD40 oiling. You may laugh at this, but that is exactly what is happening in our commercial business sector. Used to, companies look for a subject matter expert on a broad subject such as say, decision support. Now it is divided and subdivided by tools and methodology. Just for report wrting, there are atleast 30 tools that are basically the same. Yet, companies look for a specific expertise on a specific tool in a given city but willing to pay very little. Getting specialized to nth degree has advantages and some serious disadvantages depending on the subject matter. The Enron fiasco happened because, no single individual saw the total picture.

    Anyway, we are heading that way, but will take a long time for those advanced properties to benefit the society. That is my personal observation working with Exodus, Global Crossing, Kmart, Stage Stores, Andersen Consulting, Williams Communication, Boston Market (most of them filed for Chap 11).
     
  14. Raimon Registered Member

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    And: isn't that a classic example to illustrate just another major chunk of 'lossed knowledge' throughout the corporate world: i.e. how to 'manage properly'.

    Probably based on the trend of growing selfishness, and combined with the overall endless greed, it seems to be forgotten the once unwritten rule that, of course: a large part of the usually huge salaries for managers was supposed to support some or several unofficial 'consulting friends' of such a successful manager.

    Nowadays especially the new generation of the so-called 'generic managers' seem to never having heard about that - in fact, and in their often infinite selfconfidence many of them *really* believe to be able to fulfill all aspects of their job just by themselves, being subsequently convinced to be entitled to just cashing in the lot.
     
  15. Thanks guys, you've given me a lot of things to think about

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    Io
     
  16. kmguru Staff Member

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    Raimon

    Welcome to sciforums. I like your posting here and recommend you start a new thread on the subject in world affairs section.
     
  17. Eflex tha Vybe Scientist Registered Senior Member

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    I disagree. (respectfully)

    Here's my understanding of evolution.
    Evolution is a pattern.
    We can express this pattern Geometrically.

    we constuct math models to similate the Evolution of the Earth and to solve complex problems in manufacturing, research and even in Solar System Design.

    as humans, the ability to read minds or forsee possible futures would be very beneficial.
     
  18. scilosopher Registered Senior Member

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    IO,
    Most evolution models depend on the concept of random mating. This is clearly not true in Humans (when they are sober at least ; ). I can envision people with psychic abilities (or psychological problems), forming an isolated breeding pool with people they understanc/resonate with/form psychic bonds with others and "artificially" selecting for such genes (really groups of genes).

    If the human genome does have 36000 genes and there are 2 alleles at each locus then there are 1.2e10837 possible gene combinations. This is way more than the number of people on this planet. Different combinations will give the genetic/biochemical systems different functional characteristics. We don't need mutations to evolve, we already store them in our population as a whole.

    Whether or not it's likely to happen is not really subject to scientific analysis at this point, especially in the absence of a purported future sense. In terms of ESP, a lot of information is out there which we filter. As others have pointed out, I'm not sure we need more/better senses to understand the world better (or other people). I think we might just need better brains or better educational techniques to make better use of the ones we have.
     
  19. paulsamuel Registered Senior Member

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    reply to eflex

    Evolution is NOT a "pattern," it's a process. Natural selection is the mechanism by which this process occurs. IO is quite right in identifying the environment as the background on which natural selection occurs, but, a population needs the genetic raw material on which selection can work. For example, humans would need large morphological changes to see into the infra-red range or the Ultra-violet. We don't have the genes for that now (i.e. there are no genes for selection to work upon).
     
  20. paulsamuel Registered Senior Member

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    reply to scilosopher

    Humans mate fairly randomly, at least as randomly as any other mammalian population.

    Scilosopher is right in pointing out that both muatation and recombination are forms of evolution.

    There are 2 ways humans can get an ability like mind-reading. Either we have it now but don't know it, therefore, natural selection can't act on it, unless some lucky few develop their abilities; or, the ability arises de novo (see the concept of a hopeful monster). Both are pretty unlikely in my view.
     
  21. scilosopher Registered Senior Member

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    Paulsamuel,
    Uhm, nobody I know mates randomly (unless, as stated, when drunk and that usually doesn't result in kids). What is the experimental evidence for that? What is the criteria with respect to which people mate randomly? I certainly think there are a lot of non-genetic factors that go into choice of mate, but it certainly is not random. From a strict statistical/information based analysis if you don't pick the correct criteria a non-random process will seem random. Not to mention the fact that I think mating behavior studies as far as I can remember have evidence for non-random effects in other animals mating (not even limited to mammals).

    I'm not sure I agree with the either we have it now or not statement either. There are a lot of abilities that could help sensitize people to very minor mind reading hints. When you know someone well you can put their actions in a lot of context. In such circumstances a leap of intuition working off available information such as body language and other observables could be aided by a bit of esp to reach a conclusion that might be just out of reach otherwise. If that small amount would not be enough to make that qualitative difference in understanding in the absence of those other abilities, it would not possibly be acted on by selection. In that context it could be. All abilities that can be selected on are highly dependent on the others an animal posseses. As long as they make a difference they can be selected on, whether they are used of consciously or not.
     
  22. Eflex tha Vybe Scientist Registered Senior Member

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    Re: reply to eflex

    Hmmmm....

    Could we not express the process of Evolution as a pattern?

    The definition of a process is
    (1) : a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result <the process of growth> (2) : a natural continuing activity or function <such life processes as breathing> b : a series of actions or operations conducing to an end; especially : a continuous operation or treatment especially in manufacture
     
  23. Eflex tha Vybe Scientist Registered Senior Member

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    I've read that the Genome is almost 40,000 genes.
    If we also count the smaller sequence of genes that code for RNA instead of protein it could be even higher.
     

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