An alien species which is technologically more advanced than human most likely to be a reptile or mammal or some other species ?
An alien species which is technologically more advanced than human most likely to be a reptile or mammal or some other species ?
Other, since it's questionable if If a product of a completely separate evolutionary process can be termed to be anything more than an analogue of an Earth lifeform even if it happens to be, say, an endothermic being with two distinct sexes giving birth to live young that get suckled by the "female".
The dog, the dog, he's at it again!
Well, while I would hesitate to call them reptiles or mammals, if two partners are involved and one provides a greater contribution on a cellular level, something analogous to the egg, for simplicities sake, I would call that a female and the one that provides a cheaper but more numerous contribution, like sperm, male. Of course, if we find other arrangements, as I find it likely we will, examples even existing on earth, things will get more complicated. But yes, calling a species, whatever their appearance, by an Earth classification is more then presumptuous, worse then calling a civet a kind of cat.
I understand endoskeletal, Earth like gravity on land makes exoskeletons infeasible past a certain size and intelligence seems to require fairly large brains, but why the endothermic assumption, swampyankee? Now, you said more common, but on a planet with less gravity, an exoskeletal creature with a really compact, but intelligent, brain, like macaws, parrots, and crows, might very well be feasible. I bring this up because rocky planets with less gravity then Earth are more common in our solar system, though whether this fits the stellar average is still open for debate.
Doc Smiths Lensmen series had a classification based on letters. It went like this:
"...The thing's bodily structure was RTSL, to four places. No gross digestive tract - atmosphere-nourished or an energy-converter, perhaps. Beyond four places was pretty dim, but Q P arms and legs - Dhilian, eh? - would fit, and so would an R-type hide.
...As she was wafted gently across the intervening space upon a pencil of force, Kathryn took her first good look at the precisionist himself-or herself. She - it - looked something like a Dhilian, she thought at first. There was a squat, powerful, elephantine body with its four stocky legs; the tremendous double shoulders and enormous arms; the domed, almost immobile head. But there the resemblance ended. There was only one head-the thinking head, and that one had no eyes and was not covered with bone. There was no feeding head-the thing could neither eat nor breathe. There was no trunk. And what a skin!
It was worse than a hide, really-worse even than a Martian's. The girl had never seen anything like it. It was incredibly thick, dry, pliable; filled minutely with cells of a liquid-gaseous something which she knew to be a more perfect insulator even than the fibres of the tegument itself.
"R-T-S-L-Q-P." She classified the creature readily enough to six places, then stopped and wrinkled her forehead. "Seventh place-that incredible skin-what? S? R? T? It would have to be R . . .
..."VWZY, to four places." Con concentrated. "Multi-legged. Not exactly carapaceous, but pretty nearly. Spiny, too, I believe. The world was cold, dismal, barren; but not frigid, but he-it-didn't seem exactly like an oxygen-breather - more like what a warm-blooded Palainian would perhaps look like, if you can imagine such a thing. VWZYTXSYZY to ten places.
...Classification, straight Z's to ten or twelve places, she - or it - seemed to be trying to specify. A frigid race of extreme type, adapted to an environment having a temperature of approximately one degree absolute.
...physically, his classification to four places is TUUV; quite a bit like the Nevians, you notice.To ten places it was TUUVWYXXWT."
I think the classification system set up by Linnaeus would be a good start with a preface to denote we are dealing with a non-terrestrial organism, Areus (Mars) and Cythera (Venus). For Europa and Titan some other method might be used such as Cryptomareum (hidden sea) or Cryovitae (frozen life). New classes would have to be added where necessary. We've been modifying Linnaeus' classification system for centuries so additional classes should not be a problem. Of course the last descriptive for an intelligent alien should be Sapiens.
Frankly we'll be lucky to come into contact with ONE alien biology. They might have their own classification system. We'd be the ones being classified.
Maamals and Reptiles are both branches from a single line of development on Earth. Look at the Cambrian explosion, and realize that of that massive variety only a handful of animal phyla survived into the present. Now imagine another world with similar diversity and a similar amount of mass exctinctions, the survival of different body shapes than the common few we have today; think of lifeforms that could evolve from some of the stranger types of life.
STARGAZING: All I see are the lights of a billion places I'll never go. --Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary
By Doc Smith's classification, my brandy is VSOP.
OP- if you are asking about classification, everyone seemed to have answered it...
but if you are asking about their nature, then this becomes interesting....
mammal evolutionary strategy solves a big challenge in life: how to function as a child-rearing parent without being stuck to a limited territory around a nest for long periods of time.
now a lot of species do quite well without this adaptation - being child-rearing and nomadic is not a necessity to live.
but could it be a necessity for civilization?
child rearing might actually be a universal. lacking any biological means to transfer information, or some instinctive form of alphabet that doesn't need to be taught, i can't think of many likely alternatives.
but would nomadic origins be a universal for a technological species?
if they are, then the biological origins of any intelligent species would either have to either compromise them by doing them in turn (like birds) by being extremely good at both (flight & nest height advantage), or combine them in the same time like mammals.
My predictions on common features shared by any technological ETIs that remain biological?
- Some form of extended child-rearing, probably with altricial, vs precocial, young.
- Heterotrophs or mixotrophs, not autotrophs.
- Not endoparasites, although they may be ectoparasites.
- Individually intelligent. This is not to say they may not be eusocial, but I do not think it is possible for natural evolution to produce a method of communication with sufficient bandwidth to permit this1.
- Mobile, at least during a part of the life cycle.
- Fairly large, but not huge, say 10 to 10,000 kg, not 1,000,000,000 kg or 0.000 000 001 kg
I am hoping that we get a chance to actually test these speculations. Of this, I'm quite certain it won't happen in my lifetime.
1: Vernor Vinge, in A Fire upon the Deep, did have the Tines, which struck me as plausible, in that the individuals were not "intelligent" but small groups were, because they had a biologically plausible, high bandwidth communications channel. On the other hand, the individual Tine were probably more intelligent than, say, wolves.
regarding child rearing:
what if, somewhere, alien biochemistry have evolved some form of memory storage using hard tissue? such a condition would allow information to fossilize, and if its anything like our neurons, would most likely be prevalent enough throughout the evolutionary tree for species to have evolved use for it, particularly in learning new environments, or adapting to different kinds of pray by reading their behaviors, or perhaps reading the prey's sexual likes and copying mating calls. eventually, a species could accumulate information via reading its ancestors fossil minds, without any direct child rearing, thus allowing for the accumulation of information.
similarly, a species that memory in a dry environment rather then underwater, might develop an instinctive behavior to register memories in its territory, perhaps starting from compulsive motions which result in patterns it feels on its skin, rather then having to develop internal long-term memory. such an evolutionary tree could even include nomadic creatures if that ability ever comes along side the ability to carry objects. again, gaining information from the previous generation would not demand the previous generation's living presence or rearing. over time forms of encryption might run throughout bloodlines, obscuring information from competition. alternatively, the ability to imagine - form fake memories - can lead to cooperation via manipulating information and letting others read it (possibly in a pray-seducing-predator information transaction).
alternatively, it is possible that a species might be intelligent individually to compare to a human tribe, as much as many sci fi authors imagine hives-[humanoid]-minds. a species where we are for them a hive mind. god damn the amount of biomass it will have to consume, they'd probably be solitary... but what if they could be smart enough to reverse engineer anything they find, and build upon it? no communication skills whatsoever, and they would probably be better off throwing their offspring's miles away to not compete for the same territory, they simply grow bigger brains with time as their tools improve and they can consume more calories to feed it.
I'd earlier started a thread: How Evolvable are Various Features?
Photosynthesis had evolved twice:
- Chlorophyll photosynthesis: electron transfer: ATP, full-scale biosynthesis with chemical reduction
- Bacteriorhodopsin photosynthesis: H+ membrane pumping: ATP only -- energy, some biosynthesis, no chemical reduction
Twice, but only one full-scale version.
Multicellularity had evolved several times, but animallike multicellularity only once -- all the other times are plantlike or funguslike.
Though skeletons evolved several times, only vertebrates have an internal one.
Gliding and parachuting have evolved several times, like in the seeds of various plants, but powered flight only 4 times: birds, bats, pterosaurs, and insects.
The highest-resolution eyes are lens-camera eyes, and they evolved twice: vertebrates and cephalopods.
Color vision evolved twice: vertebrates and arthropods.
Different specializations of homologous body parts are very common: limbs, digits, feathers, hair, teeth, ...
Warm-bloodedness: twice: birds, mammals.
Active parental care, feeding the babies as opposed to laying one's eggs in some appropriate spot, evolved more than once: birds, mammals, some social insects.
Many forms are possible but parallel evolution seems to indicate that forms often repeat themselves. Dolphins might one day return to the land and become a sentient technological race. Their current fish-like shape is extremely common. So some sort of amphibious creature 'might' be the most common form of technologically advanced life. Might!An alien species which is technologically more advanced than human most likely to be a reptile or mammal or some other species ?
Venus is almost the same size as earth. Naturally smaller bodies are more common. They all formed out of the proto-planetary disk. Stars with greater disks will form larger terrestrial planets. Smaller bodies like moons could theoretically harbour life but its unproven at this point. A trip to Europa and those other watery moons would help.I bring this up because rocky planets with less gravity then Earth are more common in our solar system, though whether this fits the stellar average is still open for debate.
Dinosaurs were also warm blooded.Warm-bloodedness: twice: birds, mammals.
Grasping organs also evolve repeatedly. Our hands and fingers, elephant trunks, lobster and crab and scorpion pincers, squid and octopus tentacles, etc. Mouths can also be used for grasping.
Let's now consider the question of consciousness. That's rather difficult to recognize from outside, so one has to ask: what sorts behavior would indicate consciousness? A certain Gordon Gallup has proposed one: the ability to recognize oneself in a mirror, and he has proposed a mirror test for acting as if one recognizes oneself in a mirror. The experimenters daub their subject with paint in certain places, then watch their subjects to see how they react to the mirror images of themselves with their paint spots.
We typically become able to recognize ourselves in mirrors around 18 to 24 months of age, and we only lose it as a result of the likes of Alzheimer's disease.
The (other) great apes can also pass this test, but no other primate species is known to do so, with the possible exception of rhesus monkeys. Outside of primatedom, dolphins, killer whales, elephants, and European magpies can pass the test. Dogs and cats fail the test. On YouTube, you can find video of dogs and cats confronting and attacking their reflections.
Turning to another indicator of intelligence, tool use, a variety of animals are known to use existing objects as tools, while the only nonhuman species known to make tools is the chimpanzee. Perhaps not surprisingly, chimps are our closest living relatives. There are other possible indicators, like cooperation, playful behavior, and cultural traditions: learned behavior that's passed down the generations and that is not species-wide.
However, there is no nonhuman species known to have a communication system with the syntactical complexity of human language. Like distinguishing between "The dog is chasing the cat" and "The cat is chasing the dog". Nearly all of it is more-or-less equivalent to single human words, with little evidence of multi-word combinations like what I'm now typing.
Here's some ape language: Koko the gorilla's AOL inteview: Koko.org - Koko's World - Talk To Koko It's so laughable. Koko can't even make even simple noun phrases, let alone sentences.
Another body part for grasping: tails. Various animals have prehensile tails: some New World monkeys, chameleons, etc.
I'll break down by phylogeny which species have which known abilities.
- Synapsida > Mammalia > Eutheria (placentals)
- Primates > Simiiformes (simians)
- Platyrrhini (New World simians) > Cebus capucinus (Capuchin monkey): tool use
- Catarrhini (Old World simians) > Hominidae (great apes): tool use, self-awareness
- Hominini: tool making, cooperative hunting, systematic inter-species warfare
- Pan troglodytes (chimpanzee)
- Homo sp. (human, recent human ancestors)
- Canidae > Canis lupus, C. latrans (wolf, coyote): cooperative hunting
- Mustelidae > Enhydra lutris (sea otter): tool use
- Felidae > Panthera leo (lion): cooperative hunting
- Hyaenidae > Crocuta crocuta (spotted hyena): cooperative hunting
- Cetartiodactyla > Odontoceti (toothed cetaceans)
- Tursiops truncatus (bottlenose dolphin): cooperative hunting, tool use, self-awareness
- Orcinus orca (killer whale): cooperative hunting, self-awareness
- Pseudorca crassidens (false killer whale): cooperative hunting, self-awareness?
- Physeteridae > Physeter macrocephalus (sperm whale): cooperative hunting
- Proboscidea > Elephantidae (elephants): tool use, self-awareness
- Sauropsida > Dinosauria > Theropoda > Aves (birds)
- Passeriformes (perching birds)
- Corvus moneduloides (New Caledonian crow): tool making
- Corvus corone (carrion crow): dropping of nuts
- Pica pica (European magpie): self-awareness
- Thraupidae > Camarhynchus pallidus (woodpecker finch): tool use
- Charadriiformes > Laridae (seagulls): dropping of shellfish, tool use
- Psittaciformes (parrots): tool use
- Accipitriformes > Parabuteo unicinctus (Harris's hawk): cooperative hunting
- Various others
Octopus: some octopuses can assemble shelters for themselves out of coconut shells.
Overall animal kingdom:
Metazoa > Bilateria (bilaterally symmetric)
- Protostomia > Lophotrochozoa > Mollusca > Cephalopoda > Coleoidea > Octopoda (octopuses)
- Deuterostomia > Chordata > Vertebrata > Gnathostomata > Osteichthyes > Sarcopterygii > Tetrapoda > Amniota (amniotes: reptiles, birds, mammals)
So the evolution of high intelligence is VERY patchy.
Isaac Asimov believed that intelligent aliens are most likely mammals, primate-like, and closely resemble us. Why? Because only homo-sapiens use the internet on planet Earth of all species. Thus, insects, birds, fish, ants, lizards, kangaroos, dolphins, etc. cant develop the high level of intelligence to create space ships or computers or writing or even built pyramids.
Tool using, if it had never reached the industrial age, would be easily explainable as a weak but creative species way of competing and surviving. Poor hunters, slow gatherers, and frail when faced with the elements - we develop weapons to help us hunt, we invent farming to fill our bellies and feed our communities, language to coordinate, clothing and housing to protect against the elements.
Native Americans lived with a very limited tech level but did so prosperously for thousands of years. They didn't need the developments that were forced upon them. Were they any less intelligent than the disease carrying, gun toting, Europeans that decimated their population?
Since the industrial age though it seems like advancing tech has created as many problems as it has solved. We are constantly fixing problems that yesterdays solution created today. We are in a race against self destruction. The end game is approaching it seems... can we get our genes off this rock before we destroy it?
Is this evolutions goal? Is the pinnacle of evolution a species that can develop the means to spread its genes beyond the world it started on? Keeping all ones eggs in one basket is dangerous...
This seems to me to point at some sort of will behind evolution. Its crazy, and I can't help but try and dismiss it as pseudo-mysticism... but I have trouble reconciling human invention with the rest of nature. The multiple mass extinctions on this world... could there be, on some quantum level, a purposeful drive for life to avoid this fate?
There are so many inventions that are counter to species survival... unless they are simply just stepping stones to the ultimate means of species survival... interplanetary/interstellar travel/inhabitation.
IŽd add another one: They will probably be omnivores, or at least omnivores will be overrepresented among sentient species. In my opinion, the pressure of having to compete with animals you try to ear and with predators that try to eat you is an added selection pressure towards being able to outwit other species, i.e. becoming more intelligent.
Plus, any species eventually forming a civilization would have a much easier time doing this if they were fairly social animals to begin with. One of the big benefits of intelligence is the ability to communicate, coordinate and learn from one another - something you will not be able to use if you rarely meet any other member of your species.
I am no expert in anything except the mundane work that puts food on my families table. All I do is ponder on these things and absorb a fact here, a theory there, and a whacked out opinion from time to time. I would place a laymans bet though that primates are closer to other social animals in the way they think, feel, act, and evolve than humans are to primates.
I wonder how an omnicient outside observer would classify the life on this world if they could read and experience the minds/feelings of all its beings.
I think it's reasonable to assume that any technological life form will more closely resemble animals than plants, especially in that they are likely to be heterotrophs, not autotrophs. Of course, with a completely different evolutionary history, pedantically, they'll be neither animals nor plants.
life on earth have evolved. So many factors could/can change everything up and down.
I think the biggest surprise would be, if a alien wessel enters earts atmosphere, if they where human
A technologically sophisticated alien species might demand that we drop our system and use their system.
'That was tops! Who's not good at math? I was all, "Four!"' - Finn, Adventure Time.