Friday, 11 September 2015

Convergent Evolution

Entering the 'aliens' and 'evolutionary imperative debate', is a new champion.

Cambridge Don, Simon Morris, has claimed recently that intelligent aliens almost certainly exist, and that they could very well look a lot like us. He bases this assertion on the idea that life on Earth has shown a remarkably strong adherence to "rigid rules", and is not some random set of mutations and developments.

These rules seem to suggest that different species, will develop similar features to tackle similar problems e.g. Eyes: The free-swimming single celled plankton algae called warnowiids have been found to have developed an eye structure, and are living evidence of convergent evolution in action. The purple spot on this predatory creature is what's called and ocelloid, which is a complex structure similar to an eye. it seems to have developed it in order to detect shifts in light as they pass through the transparent bodies of their prey.

The Warnowiid 'Eye' Is Evidence Of Convergent Evolution ....

..... So as the same issues are likely to occur for life, on the potentially millions of Earth like planets now being uncovered by the Keplar telescope and its successors, then these evolutionary and convergence rules will likely apply there as well.

He expounds this in his book "The Runes Of Evolution", and is reported as saying that "One can say with reasonable confidence that the likelihood of something analogous to a human evolving is really pretty high."

He and Professor Brian Cox should have a chat sometime ... now that he's recanted somewhat.

Brian Cox Tweet To Independent Newspaper ....


  1. Fascinating! One might understandably think that the Star Trek idea of aliens is simply due to a combination of TV budget restraints and a lack of imagination whereas there may be a universal truth of physical practicality where evolved beings are involved. Perhaps there isn't more than one way to skin a cat, especially when there's only one tool to do it with - at most there's the efficient way and several inefficient ways. Despite thousands of years and some very imaginative people, the human race hasn't produced a convincing alien being which doesn't resemble a known creature.

    As Dr Morris says life adheres to "rigid rules"; Evolution, is driven by random mutation and so is interpreted by some as being itself random, but the survival of the mutation is anything but - the advantage afforded by the mutation has to prove itself in the real world where everything is out to kill it : temperatures, the star's radiation, lack of food, predators, etc, etc. Life on another planet is likely to arise in a body of water and as Dr Morris posits, it will find very similar solutions to the same problems that our ancestors faced to make use of the available resources and to survive.

    In short it's unlikely that one could imagine better solutions to life's challenges than the process of evolution has already produced which it did over millennia through countless life and death situations - the same situations which exist on any Class M planet in the Universe.

    1. Iteration after iteration have been tried on Earth .... our increasingly better understanding of the number of homo types tried, and abandoned by nature before homo-sapiens illustrates this process. Each stage adds to the possibility of a better solution being found but when the optimal one found, then that's as good as it can get, and the process ends there. This is a universal rule ...

    2. Thanks for the link, a fascinating discovery and a timely article.

      I couldn't help noticing how much Homo naledi resembles your profile picture.

    3. Nature repeats a good model! I am after all as a sceptic, as old as the hills and then some.


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