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Old 07-14-2008, 02:23 AM   #16
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But we shared common ancestry with other hominids, they are our cousins and not completely independently evolved organisms. The prerequisites for evolving intelligence in that environment existed. We lived in similar environments and fill the same ecological niche. In all of vertebrate evolution intelligence has been the exception and not the rule, and thats besides the other major phylum's such as the molluscs (now cephalopods show high degrees of intelligence but there's no reason to suppose that there will be exceptionally intelligent squid in the next few tens of millions of years. Organisms must be adapted to their environment or go extinct, intelligence is not a trump card for survival.

I am resistant to the idea that life is predestined towards intelligence, that there is an innate force trending life towards sentience, that strikes me like the guiding hand of God. The evidence doesn't support that contention of inevitable intelligence on Earth and there's no reason to expect the mechanical process of evolution to act differently on another planet. Thats not to say it is impossible, only that it can't be assumed.

The step of evolving from prokaryotes to eukaryotes is a more critical step for life on Earth than human intelligence in, and the evolution of animal life another one. These are major changes in the mode of life on Earth and the preconditions and chances of these events taking place are very poorly constrained.

We don't have the evidence to support abundant intelligent life or no intelligent life, there's a lot of space in between that needs to be found out.
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Old 07-14-2008, 04:53 AM   #17
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Only instead of the Yucatan asteroid (Chicxulub?) or other ELE events that came along and set us back X number of years, this didn't happen to these other folk. And they consequently were thousands (if not millions) of years ahead of us.
Why did it set us back. The asteroid impacted long before the first intelligent ancestor of humans came into existence. Also, if the hypothesis holds true it was responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs and other giant predators. Wouldn't that have rather helped humanity to progress than hindered in that it would have been pretty difficult to set up settlements with such huge animals in the neighbourhood?

Dinosaurs wouldn't have developed much further in terms of intelligence, and unless there isn't being discovered any sentient, intelligent animal stemming from that time I guess there hasn't been any prior to humanity and their direct ancestors.

Or would you say that even without the asteroid the dinosaurs would have went extinct and humanity would have developed earlier?

Ok, maybe the dinosaurs would have settled.

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Old 07-14-2008, 07:10 AM   #18
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Dinosaurs wouldn't have developed much further in terms of intelligence, and unless there isn't being discovered any sentient, intelligent animal stemming from that time I guess there hasn't been any prior to humanity and their direct ancestors.
I don't think this is correct, dinosaurs are smart today (since birds are a clade of dinosaur) and there's no reason to think that it wouldn't have been possible for high levels of social intelligence to have evolved in an alternative timeline.

I just want to convey that intelligence can be advantageous in a social animal and if there is a positive feedback mechanism that perpetuates adaptions for intelligence by yielding reproductive benefits in the environment there's no reason not to see an intelligent animal evolve.

But it depends on that trait being reproductively advantageous at that point in time in that particular environment.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:20 AM   #19
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You mean it could have been possible that dinosaurs would have developed to a state similar to that of humans where they cooperate, build structures and settle.

Taking the example of crows it's right that they are extremely intelligent and find incredible ways to utilize about anything for gaining food (like the crow that drops nuts onto the streets, waits for cars to crack it and when the traffic lights turn red it eats the nut).

Nevertheless, I'm not sure that we "lost" some time for progress, at least from the perspective of human development.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:41 AM   #20
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I think that culture isn't out of the question, and if the conditions were right the idea of a self-conscious social dinosaur with the capacity for communication doesn't seem out of the question, Dougal Dixon has covered some of these alternative lineages.
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:52 AM   #21
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Hm, his books sound intriguing. Would be interesting how the dinosaurs had treated the world.
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Old 07-14-2008, 06:45 PM   #22
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Why did it set us back. The asteroid impacted long before the first intelligent ancestor of humans came into existence. Also, if the hypothesis holds true it was responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs and other giant predators. Wouldn't that have rather helped humanity to progress than hindered in that it would have been pretty difficult to set up settlements with such huge animals in the neighbourhood?
Those are great questions. It was a sloppy example.

I didn't mean to make direct reference to the dinosaurs, I was mainly just plucking an ELE out of air and that is the most common example I had thought of. We could use ice ages. 40 million years ago, supposedly primates were near extinct outside of a few spots on the globe because of ice.

So the idea for me was (in general), the smaller the pool (because of a smaller population) the less variations would come about, thus slowing down the process itself. I am just thinking out loud here. Whatever the impediments of primate evolution were, imagine lessening them. A better rate of survivability, in any case.

If the progression were only a difference of a mere thousand years or just 500 years, imagine where we might be in that same time span. Would they be able to traverse the galaxy freely? Probably not but I'm just talking about possibilities, the variables can be wide and among the incredibility of odds, it doesn't seem that far reaching to me, on the surface.

ELE's are maybe the wrong idea, imagine if it were any environmental factor that favored survivability on a mirror-like planet, then is that beyond constraint to imagine? So you could choose whatever fits. Unless there is nothing that would suitably fit, all I'm going for are possibilities and trying not to bleed over into fantasy land.
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:20 PM   #23
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So the idea for me was (in general), the smaller the pool (because of a smaller population) the less variations would come about, thus slowing down the process itself. I am just thinking out loud here. Whatever the impediments of primate evolution were, imagine lessening them. A better rate of survivability, in any case.
Actually the opposite is true, the smaller the population the faster a variation can become fixed in a population. Large interbreeding populations are stabilised and homogenised whereas smaller peripheral isolated populations can experience more rapid variation.
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Old 08-02-2008, 11:17 PM   #24
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I didn't want to start a new thread

I can't get the God damn full link to work

It's right on the front page of Aviation Week. com
and linked from CoastToCoastAm.com

White House Briefed On Potential For Mars Life
By Craig Covault

The White House has been alerted by NASA about plans to make an announcement soon on major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the "potential for life" on Mars, scientists tell Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Sources say the new data do not indicate the discovery of existing or past life on Mars. Rather the data relate to habitability--the "potential" for Mars to support life--at the Phoenix arctic landing site, sources say.

The data are much more complex than results related NASA's July 31 announcement that Phoenix has confirmed the presence of water ice at the site.

International news media trumpeted the water ice confirmation, which was not a surprise to any of the Phoenix researchers. "They have discovered water on Mars for the third or fourth time," one senior Mars scientists joked about the hubbub around the water ice announcement.

The other data not discussed openly yet are far more "provocative," Phoenix officials say.

In fact, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory science team for the MECA wet-chemistry instrument that made the findings was kept out of a July 31 news conference at the University of Arizona Phoenix control center. The goal was to prevent them from being asked any questions that could reveal information before NASA is ready to make an announcement, sources say.

The Bush Administration's Presidential Science Advisor's office, however, has been briefed on the new information that NASA hopes to release as early as mid August. It is possible an announcement would not come until September, to allow for additional analysis. That will depend upon the latest results still being analyzed from the spacecraft's organic oven and soil chemistry laboratories.

Phoenix scientists have said from the start that neither the TEGA organic chemistry lab nor the MECA wet chemistry system could detect current or past life.

MECA's two microscopes do, however, have the resolution to detect bacteria--which would be life. Sources, however, say the microscopes have not detected bacteria.

The Phoenix scoop was successful in delivery of a soil/ice mixture to TEGA this week after the material stuck in the scoop on two tries. The analysis of that sample is under way. The sample contains about 1% ice and 99% soil.

As expected, the instrument immediately detected hydrogen and oxygen atoms indicating water. Its electricity load also increased initially, a positive sign that water ice was being melted by the system.

The fact TEGA is starting to process some ice samples "had champagne corks popping" here, says William Boynton TEGA principal investigator from the University of Arizona. "We have tasted the water and it tastes great," he said.

Before launch, some website literature by the TEGA team indicated it possibly could find organic evidence of "past" life. Both Boynton and Peter Smith, who heads the mission now, say that is not the case, although TEGA organic data could start major new arguments about life.

It has yet to find organics, but still has several sample ovens available to make such a discovery. An electrical short that earlier threatened TEGA operations has resolved itself, Boynton says.

News media cited the water ice finding as a major discovery, but it was totally expected by the science team. The different MECA data combined with TEGA is increasingly compelling as another piece in the puzzle of life.

The key is in the soil and water, and how the two behave together at that site on Mars, not the expected confirmation of water ice at this stage in the mission, Mars investigators told Aviation Week.

The MECA instrument, in its first of four wet chemistry runs a month ago, found soil chemistry that is "Earth-like" and capable of supporting life, researchers said then.

It is intriguing that MECA could have found anything more positive than that, but NASA and the University of Arizona are taking steps to prevent word from leaking out on the nature of the discovery made during MECA's second soil test, in which water from Earth was automatically stirred with Martian soil.

Photo from University of Arizona and NASA/JPL: Yellow outlined robotic arm targets for new Phoenix Mars trenching show work areas planned for mission extension through at least September. Snow White area (blue rectangle at far right) is current ice sample zone.
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