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View Diary: A Perspective on Life on Earth (74 comments)

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  •  we do have at least one other very (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mattakar, ozajh

    intelligent species on earth, the dolphins.  They have a much higher Encephelization Quotient (EQ) than chimpanzees, and until about 1 million years ago they had the highest EQ on the planet.

    They evolved about 20 million years ago from ancestors who had once lived on land.

    We have barely begun to understand their language and society.

    Chimps have evolved tool use and some aspects of culture.  If humans had not crowded them out and driven them to near extinction there is no telling how they may have evolved in the future.

    •  Dolphins are interesting for evolution (0+ / 0-)

      They will probably never be able to develop tools or technology, because they have no means to manipulate their world, and really not much need to. They will never have access to fire to shape or melt or chemically change things. If they develop sentience (whatever that truly means, and assuming they don't already have it enough to count), it will be largely just for the hell of it. And that would be very cool.

      •  that is what is so amazing and (0+ / 0-)

        interesting about them.  They are clearly very intelligent, they clearly have language and societies, and they can carry on long after humans wipe themselves out.

        Also interesting are the whales, which apparently have societies and complex language as well.

        We almost killed them off but they are making a comeback with the modest protections some nations have put in place.  they are not nearly as numerous as dolphins but at least they did not go extinct yet at the hands of humans.

        •  Elephants too! (0+ / 0-)

          And a prehensile trunk.

          But we don't know what is any of these other species' minds - although it does seem they have minds, not just brains.  But could there ever be a way for them to have an understanding of our planet in space, its relationship to the sun, quantum mechanics, etc?  That does seem to set a pretty high bar for "sentience."

        •  You might like "Startide Rising" by David Brin (0+ / 0-)

          if you like great sci-fi. Many of the characters are dolphins uplifted to sentience by humans, with harnesses for tool use. He is a sci-fi writer highly informed by the science and gets into what an evolved dolphin society might be like.

      •  I should have also mentioned how much I (0+ / 0-)

        enjoyed your diary.  This type of perspective is fascinating and very helpful.  Well done!

    •  A species which intrigues me (1+ / 0-)
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      from the POTENTIAL intelligence perspective is the Giant Cuttlefish.  While still having the issues associated with being a water-dweller, it has appendages which could already use tools (unlike dolphins).

      I believe there have been studies done which indicate a surprisingly high level of problem-solving ability.

      The basic problem with this species is the extremely short life-span, given their breed-die cycle.  Also, more subtly, they don't have kin recognition so there isn't any incentive for knowledge transmission.

      In fact, I wonder if some form of kin recognition is an absolute requirement for the development of intelligence to the point where societies can form.  I know there are Science Fiction stories about intelligent Alien species with 'scattergun' breeding, but as far as I know they don't specify how their societies developed in the first place.  (O.K., I can think of a James Blish novel which does, but in his case the Lithians (?) have been deliberately created by Satan.)

      •  I have seen cuttlefish videos (0+ / 0-)

        but never thought about whether they could could evolve to full tool use. You are right though, they are probably the best undersea candidates for that sort of thing. How long until the navy starts training them ... :)

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