Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Predictions of Evolution of Alien Life

Evolution of life on other worlds is seeming more likely as human knowledge of the Universe expands. David Zeigler has recently proposed eleven Evolution Predictions of what abilities or traits will evolve on other worlds, conditions allowing. The predictions are that some lifeforms will be the following:
  • Water dependent and carbon based.
  • Chemosynthetic (chemical based energy synthesis) or photosynthetic (light energy synthesis).
  • Heterotrophic and predators of heterotrophs (food chain of lifeforms).
  • Passively or actively mobile to seek out optimum conditions. As such, body plans will evolve something similar to what we would identify as a head, with arrays of sensory organs.
  • Sessile (non-mobile or anchored in place).
  • Powered flight (birds, some insects, bats, pterosaurs), or at least directed gliding (flying squirrel, flying fish).
  • Parasites, which on Earth account for over 65% of the total number of species.
  • Genes will be selfish, and natural selection will spawn adaption to the environment.
  • Will have senses, especially sight, sound, touch, heat detection, etc.
  • Motile, organisms will have natural attraction and repulsion to stimuli.
  • Large bodies of water will foster a wide variety of lifeforms, which may independently evolution similar adaptions.
The list seems a little incomplete and maybe not well organized. It is a good starting point in the discussion of what we can expect to find on other worlds. It can help us in knowing where to look, as well. Perhaps this list is formed from human prejudice. However, with only Earth as our example, this (at least for the time being) seems to be a fair set of predictions.

Source: Skeptic Vol. 14 No. 2, 2008 - Predicting Evolution

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