Chance of life on other planets

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by James R, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    You got to start somewhere. Usually holding tools is the place (after you can cooperate via language).

    Come back in about 2 million years, long after humans have destroyed themselves, and see the more intelligent evolved dinosaurs (currently called "birds") working at their 3D computer terminals.
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  3. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Highly unlikely.

    Humans have taken 6 or 7 million years to go from far more intelligent ancestors than birds are to get to where we are today.

    In a world where humans aren't around and some other species evolves to take our place it will most certainly take far far longer than 2 million years.

    Of course I also don't believe we will destroy ourselves.

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  5. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes 20 million is a better guess, but I was just trying to be funny and make the point that with time the dinosaurs could continue their evolution.

    What might also happen is some "mad scientists" might help accelerate their evolution with chunks of DNA transfer etc. thinking that building a "biological robot" is smarter & quicker than a mechanical one. i.e. Give the birds a bigger brain, better claws to get his morning paper with etc. and it just gets out of control when the birds get organized and eat him and other humans. Admittedly microscopic creatures doing that eating of all humans is more probable.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2010
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Having worked with parrots for many years I'd say that many species have intelligence close to the chimpanzee, the ancestor you're referring to 6 or 7 million years ago.

    We keep our birds in cages when we're not home--so we'll have a home to come home to and not a pile of toothpicks and sawdust. Our macaw learned to disassemble her cage from the inside, so after some effort I found left-hand threaded nuts and bolts that would fit into the same holes.

    It only took her three days to figure that out.
  8. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Billy T:Would they ever have evolved intelligence?
    The dinosaurs existed for about 180 Million years & the last ones did not seem much (if any) smarter than the first ones.

    Perhaps there was no evolutionary pressure on T-Rex since he was one of the biggest meanest ba**rds in the arena. Intelligence might have helped the smaller ones who were potential prey.

    There are some more knowledgeable folks than I who think that the evolution of intelligence is a lucky fluke rather than an evolutionary inevitability, which is an opinion I have held since my college days in prehistoric times.

    From the time of the first primate to one of the early human-like primates took about 50 million years. Only two primates (we & the Neandertals) developed far enough to be show signs of developing a technological culture.

    The Neandertals did not make it & about 150,000 years ago, we almost became extinct.
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Only if it helped them survive. I think it did for some of the smaller dinosaurs (and tiny mammals that we may have evolved from) that the carnivores ate. Perhaps that along with learning how to fly, i.e. to become what we now call birds, is why some birds are smart. (Very smart/ oz of brain. Certainly much higher on that normalized sale than any dog.)

    Some birds, such as chicken are very dumb. Perhaps they, as dinosaurs, learned how to fly first and did not need (find useful) more intelligence. It is also possible, even likely, that every chicken I have had experience with is mentally damaged by man selecting for good egg laying or big breasts. I could extend that thought, but dare not as I don't want vicious attacks by the female posters here.

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    I fully back Fraggel's post 204 statements about how smart some birds are but I have only a sample of one, a Cockatiel, part of the parrot family also.

    Whether or not human level of intelligence is long term desirable is an open question IMHO. I suspect that some reptiles (if turtles and alligators are reptiles) will be here long after man is extinct.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2010
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Intelligence is simply not much of an advantage for a predator. They need speed and strength.

    If you look carefully at the animal kingdom--at least the mammals, anyway--I think you'll find that intelligence is most likely to occur in the omnivores, especially scavengers. These are the animals who can select from the greatest number of food sources. So intelligence can assist them in finding food, extracting it from wherever it is, and avoiding both competitors and predators, all with the minimum expenditure of energy.

    The smartest wild animals here in North America are the ursids (the bear family), particularly the raccoon. They are all omnivores and they will all scavenge for food if the opportunity is presented. It's almost impossible to raccoon-proof a trash can, and they'll even find a way into your house. They're also smart enough to domesticate themselves and beg for handouts in parks and campgrounds--or just steal the food on your picnic table when you're not looking. There is absolutely nothing cuter than a baby raccoon eating a marshmallow! We never go camping without a pallet of marshmallows.

    Many species of rodents are also opportunistic feeders, and their intelligence is very high too. The same is true among the birds. The corvids (jays and crows) are scavengers and they are incredibly bright. They can break open anything that has food inside.

    Parrots, the smartest birds of all, are not natural scavengers, they won't eat anything that's been dead too long. But they're certainly opportunistic and will eat leftover sandwiches in outdoor cafes. Our parrots quickly learn to open every door and every drawer, and to find our hidey-holes, looking for food.
    There seems to be something about an aquatic environment that fosters intelligence in mammals. Pinnipeds, dolphins, otters... all the fishing mammals are very smart. It's been suggested that having to adapt to a three-dimensional environment requires increased brain power. It's a lot harder to plan your route through an ocean--much less chase and capture prey--than on a two-dimensional surface. You have to do some pretty fancy kinematic calculations instinctively.

    Primates live in the trees, which is also a three-dimensional environment.

    For that matter, birds fly, and the air is just as much a three-dimensional environment as the water. It has always seemed to me that if you pick any niche in an ecosystem and look at the mammal and the bird who occupy it, the bird is just a little bit smarter.
    Actually ancestral hominid species have been inventing tools for millions of years, so we and the Neanderthals are merely their descendants.
    When the Germans reformed their spelling rules, they took the H out of Neandertal, the name of the valley. But the name of the species was already well established in science, so it's still Neanderthal.
    Only the domestic varieties, because we deliberately made them that way. Nobody wants their dinner to be smart enough to get away.
    Geologists call this era the Anthropocene, because we are actually changing the planet--land, air and water. At this rate most of those animals will become extinct at our hand.
  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes I suggest that was why all the chickens I have ever had any experience with were very stupid. I.e. man had selected them for egg laying or big breasts. I hinted at an extension of that "man selection effect" in another species in post 207 but will not repeat it again.

    I spent my teenage years in West Virgina, went into the woods many times for various reasons. When squirrel hunting, it is best to pick a comfortable spot and sit quietly in it, waiting for the squirrel to give you a clean shot. Only once did I see a wild turkey - there were plenty, but too smart to show themselves.
  12. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    150,000? Don't you mean 70,000? What happened 150,000 years ago?
  13. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Ophiolite: It happened between about 195,000 years ago (shortly after Homo Sapiens first arose) & about 125,000 years ago.
    Check August 2010 Scientific American.

    Due to cold dry climate conditions, our ancestors declined to merely hundreds of breeding individuals. They lived in a small region at the southern tip of Africa. Conditions there were suitable, allowing them to survive by eating shell fish & edible plants growing in that region.
  14. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Sounds strange to me. If it is too cold and dry why at Southern tip of Africa? I would guess the Nile valley would be better for warmth, fresh water & food.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There's just no accounting for weather patterns. The first successful migration of H. sapiens out of Africa occurred during an ice age 60KYA. Africa was suffering a severe drought and food was scarce. They kept going until they reached Australia. (Sea levels are much lower during an ice age because so much water is trapped in the glaciers and polar caps, so Paleolithic-technology boats could cross the much narrower seaways of Oceania.) For reasons not yet understood, there was no drought and no famine in Australia so they settled there and prospered. They were the ancestors of the Australian "aborigines," although clearly identifiable bits of their DNA show up in populations all along the southern coast of Asia. (The ancestors of all the rest of us came across in a separate migration 10K years later.)
  16. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    150,000 plus years ago, the Nile Valley & coasts of the Mediterranean might have been as habitable or more habitable than the coast of South Africa. It could be that our ancestors of 150,000 to 200,000 years ago had not yet migrated that far North.
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It seems like modern humans and our ancestral species started out in what is now the general region of Ethiopia.
  18. Green Destiny Banned Banned

    Which is the east of africa isn't it? Either way, to be safe ''it was somewhere in africa'' eh?
  19. granpa Registered Senior Member

    if our ancestors existed in the congo in large numbers would we expect to find fossils there
    and therefore the lack of fossils in the congo indicates that our ancestors werent there
    or are we only finding fossils elsewhere because
    that happens to be where they are easiest to find and most likely to survive?
  20. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

    The Congo is not conducive to the formation and survival of fossils.
  21. D H Some other guy Valued Senior Member


    Mod note, two of them actually ...

    1. Discussions of Gliese 581c are in [thread=104329]this thread[/thread].

    2. Discussions of the origins of humanity belong elsewhere (biology and genetics). This thread is going very far off topic.
  22. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

    Too awesome.....

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  23. keith1 Guest

    AP News

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical: at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way.

    At least 500 million of those planets are in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold zone where life could exist. The numbers were extrapolated from the early results of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope...
    ...And that's a minimum because these stars can have more than one planet and Kepler has yet to get a long enough glimpse to see planets that are further out from the star, like Earth...

    ...Borucki said the new calculations lead to worlds of questions about life elsewhere in the cosmos. "The next question is why haven't they visited us?"

    And the answer? "I don't know," Borucki said.

    Kepler Site

    --We are not of interest? Then what is of interest?
    --We are fledgling, and under a "nanny protectorate"?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2011

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