Division Of

4 pnimeo&m. CIU

Figure 6. The Schwarzeneggerization of Life. A muscle-bound man stands as the end product of a linear progression - the Great Chain of Being - a ladder of life that leads to male Caucasian weight lifters. One can create such an apparent linear trend out of the crooked phylogenetic branch of any species. Looking back from any particular species we will find the evolution of the traits of that particular species. However, precisely because we can construct such a figure from the lineage of any species, such a construction should not be construed as a general linear trend applicable to all life. The simple appeal of this figure is a good example of how easy it is to believe that the important events and the major transitions in evolution that led to us, are important events for all organisms (Smith and Szathmary, 1995). The problems with this view are detailed in Gould (1989). The prevalence and recurrence of this mistaken interpretation of evolution needs to be avoided as we try to use terrestrial evolution to give us hints about the evolution of extraterrestrial life (figure from Gatland and Dempster, 1957). This homo-centric tree should be compared with Fig. 4.

If human-like intelligence were so useful, we should see many independent examples of it in biology. We could cite many creatures who had involved on independent continents to inhabit the "intelligence niche". We can't. Human-like intelligence seems to be what its name implies - species specific.

I have argued that the fossil record strongly suggests that human-like intelligence is not a convergent feature of evolution. The evidence is indirect and suggestive, but it is, I think, the best we have. Despite this evidence, I am a strong supporter of SETI - because I may be wrong about how the evidence is best interpreted, and because SETI is relatively cheap science. SETI is the exploration of new parameter space with new instruments - a proven recipe for scientific discovery. However, we do not need to misinterpret the fossil record to justify this inspiring research.

10. References

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University Press, Cambridge Conway-Morris, S. (2005). Extraterrestrial Aliens Like Us? Astronomy & Geophysics 46 (4 August), 24-26

Dawkins, R. (2005). The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London

Dollo, L. (1893). Les Lois de l'evolution. Bulletin de la Socie 'te' Belge de Ge'ologie, de pale'ontologie, et de Hydrologie 7, 164-166 Drake, F. (2006). On-line Debate Astrobiology Magazine, http://www.astrobio.net/news/article239. html

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Knowledge, McKay, New York Gould, S.J. (1970). Dollo on Dollo's Law: Irreversibility and the Status of Evolutionary Laws, Journal of the History of Biology 3(2) (September), 189-212 Gould, S.J. (1989). The Iconography of an Expectation. Wonderful Life, W.W. Norton, New York, pp. 23-52.

Hedges, S.B. Blair, J.E., Venturi, M.L., Shoe, J.L. (2004). A Molecular Timescale of Eukaryote

Evolution and the Rise of Complex Multicellular Life, BMC Evolutionary Biology 4(2) Jerison, H.J. (1955). Brain to body ratios and the evolution of intelligence, Science 121, 447-449 Jerison, Harry. (1973). Evolution of the Brain and Intelligence, Academic, New York Jerison, H.J. (1991). Brain Size and the Evolution of Mind, American Museum of Natural History, New York

Jerison, H.J. (1976). (see Fig. 17) Paleoneurology and the Evolution of Mind, Scientific American

234(1), 90-100 (plot on page 96) Kirschner, M.W. and Gerhart, J.C. (2005) The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma, Yale

University Press, New Haven, CT Lineweaver, C.H. (2005). Book Review of Ulmschneider (2003) Intelligent Life in the Universe: From

Common Origins to the Future of Humanity, Astrobiology 5(5), 658-661 Lineweaver, C.H., Davis, T.M. (2002). Does the Rapid Appearance of Life on Earth Suggest that Life

Is Common in the Universe? Astrobiology 2(3), 293-304 Lineweaver, C.H., Schwartzman, D. (2004). Cosmic Thermobiology: Thermal Constraints on the Origin and Evolution of Life in the Universe. In: J. Seckbach (ed.) Origins: Genesis, Evolution and Diversity of Life. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 233-248; also available on-line at astro-ph/0305214 Manzanares, M., Nieto, M.A. (2003). A Celebration of the New Head and an Evaluation of the New Mouth. Neuron 37, 895-898 (March 27)

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Biodata of Attila Grandpierre, author of "Cosmic Life Forms"

Dr. Attila Grandpierre is currently a senior scientific researcher at the Konkoly Observatory of Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He obtained his degree university doctor in 1977 from the Roland Eotvos University, his academic degree candidate of physical sciences in 1984 from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and continued his research at the Konkoly Observatory. Dr. Grandpierre's scientific interest covers the following areas: origin of solar activity, the Sun as a system showing lifelike activities, cosmic life forms in the Universe, complexity measures, biological thermodynamics, first principles of physics and biology.

E-mail: [email protected]

Attila Grandpierre
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