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Plat
2014-Sep-28, 04:24 PM
Can you think of any means by which life on a water world could evolve and develop the means to send and receive extraterrestrial electromagnetic signals?

Are there any absolute barriers to an intelligent aquatic species developing portable energy, refining natural resources, or building complex mechanical, electronic, and photonic machinery?

Imagine something like dolphins with opposable thumbs on a world with no dry land. There is no reason they couldn’t evolve a language capability like ours. And they could certainly create and use primitive tools. But are there raw energy sources they could concentrate and tap? Some analog to our land-based energy cycle, where we can start with combustible biomass to bootstrap our way to refined fossil fuels and more advanced energy sources? Or can you conceive of some other means by which they could create and control powerful eletromagnetic transceivers?

Hlafordlaes
2014-Sep-28, 06:55 PM
The idea has come up often that some cephalopods might evolve advanced intelligence, but I think that the inability to make and use fire to kick-start things would be a problem on a planet where temporary land use is out of the question. Perhaps tool-making would be restricted to using active underground volcanoes? You'd need a dedicated species adapted to that, which would then have even more trouble migrating elsewhere...

Noclevername
2014-Sep-28, 10:39 PM
Biological manipulation, perhaps? Selective breeding of other species, leading to biochemical and genetic engineering.

eburacum45
2014-Sep-29, 02:56 AM
Biological manipulation, perhaps? Selective breeding of other species, leading to biochemical and genetic engineering.

This idea occured to me too. Imagine a biosphere with lifeforms which can be manipulated relatively easily, perhaps because they have different genetics to Earth life. A species could evolve that deliberately manipulates other species (and possibly even itself) so that new forms arise to order. One useful product might be a floating raft of photosynthetic organisms, which could become a land surface for amphibious forays into an environment that supports fire. Biotech could also be useful for concentrating useful mineral salts out of the seawater to produce valuable metals and other elements.

Actually I'm not that certain that abiogenesis could occur on a waterworld, but it might be possible - alternately life might arrive from elsewhere via local panspermia. In short it seems possible, but unlikely, that an advanced biotech civilisation could emerge on a waterworld. Conversely they would probably say the same about us.

Hypmotoad
2014-Sep-29, 06:06 AM
What evolutionary pressures could drive an aquatic species to intelligence can only be guessed at, especially by a non-aquatic species. And tool use? I have to admit, my 1st thought when responding here was, turning on a TV underwater. Reception would stink.

Hypmotoad
2014-Sep-29, 06:56 AM
GAH! Have tried to repost several times and get booted before I finish, so am typing now faster than I ever have, almost 30 wurdz a minute :)

I am unhappy with previous post. Sounded flip. Sorry.

Humanities' first technology was fire. From fire, we developed steam power. Steam power is STILL the chief manner in which we power our civilization.

As an aquatic species, what are the energy sources available to me? Thermal is my best choice. I see it in hydrothermal vents and seamounts. I see the heated water exiting the vents with force. Maybe, if I were clever, I could use this force.

Is electricity necessary for a tech civilization?

As an aquatic species, I observe flashes on the water at the surface of the ocean, I can't swim too close as it is very painful. But, what is this and can I use it somehow?

I have no idea what an aquatic technology might end up resembling, but yes, I can draw parallels. So in answer to your OP, Yes, it can develop. Are thumbs necessary? I doubt it, maybe tentacles would do just fine.

Maybe a better question is whether or not an aquatic technological species is likely to develop.

Who knows? I believe in UFOs after all :)

Edit: punctuation and wutknott

Noclevername
2014-Sep-29, 07:21 AM
Is electricity necessary for a tech civilization?

Electrical impulses can be biologically generated (In fact, I don't think any life higher than viruses can live without doing so.)

IsaacKuo
2014-Sep-29, 10:55 AM
Yes, they can. There's no reason why they couldn't develop advanced technology in a manner similar to how we developed technology.

It's popular to say they can't use fire, but they can. We don't live in water, but does that mean we can't use water? Of course not. We use water all the time. We just can't breath water, that's all.

The hypothetical dolphin with opposable thumbs can use fire just fine. The lack of dry land merely means that the fuel needs to be above water to be set on fire. This can be done on floating platforms, even if there's no dry land.

Noclevername
2014-Sep-29, 10:58 AM
Assuming their atmosphere supports fire, yes.

Hypmotoad
2014-Sep-29, 11:14 AM
You don't need fire to produce steam, you need heat.

Also occurs to me that world spanning currents provide kinetic energy, watermills ....just sayin

Noclevername
2014-Sep-29, 11:18 AM
You don't need fire to produce steam, you need heat.

Yes, but you can't forge metals with steam, and steam is not an efficient mover underwater.

Hypmotoad
2014-Sep-29, 11:21 AM
Good point even if wasn't MY point lol

Noclevername
2014-Sep-29, 11:52 AM
Good point even if wasn't MY point lol

I'm just saying that most industries require high energy in concentrated sources (including many higher temperatures than boiling water), preferably including mobile power sources. An aquatic technological society would either have to do without those, or develop alternative methods.

IsaacKuo
2014-Sep-29, 01:25 PM
I'm just saying that most industries require high energy in concentrated sources (including many higher temperatures than boiling water), preferably including mobile power sources. An aquatic technological society would either have to do without those, or develop alternative methods.
No they wouldn't. As I noted, fire will work just fine.

In fact, it's easier to develop mobile power sources capable of motion on water than ones which can travel on land.

IsaacKuo
2014-Sep-29, 01:31 PM
Assuming their atmosphere supports fire, yes.
The OP stipulates a dolphin-like creature with opposable thumbs. Dolphins breath air with a high oxygen content, so the atmosphere presumably supports fire.

There actually is good reason to expect a high oxygen content may be necessary for the development of large complex life forms capable of supporting large brains and energetic brain activity. In that case, the atmosphere should support fire.

Personally, I find a Europa-like situation more interesting than the ocean world stipulated in the OP. But even then, any gases will naturally pool in exploitable air pockets--the upside-down equivalent of lakes.

DonM435
2014-Sep-29, 01:50 PM
Earth's whales, including dolphins, evolved from land creatures. Would we expect something of similar intelligence to evolve on a world that never had any land?

DaveC426913
2014-Sep-29, 02:04 PM
The OP stipulates a dolphin-like creature with opposable thumbs. Dolphins breath air with a high oxygen content,


Earth's whales, including dolphins, evolved from land creatures. Would we expect something of similar intelligence to evolve on a world that never had any land?

You're both missing the point of the thread. Dolphins are simply an example of an intelligent aquatic creature, used to explain the OP's idea. Not that he did say dolphin-like - which does not stipulate oxygen-breathing. And octopi are pretty intelligent for invertebrates, yet they have never seen land.

The point of the thread is whatever aquatic critter evolves, could it develop technology?



Fire is a tricky one. It allows to chemical transformation of raw materials into much more useful substances, usually in the form of hardening, purifying, forging etc, which start the civilization on a trajectory of ever-increasing technological empowerment.

In principle, they could use fire, but one must wonder how vanishingly small the opportunities are to discover the properties of fire, let alone harness it. You sort of have to be immersed in an environment to get competent with it.

DonM435
2014-Sep-29, 02:08 PM
OK, thanks for the clarification.

Note that the first statement quoted wasn't mine. (I will take responsibility for the second.)

Edit: It's since been fixed, so never mind.

DonM435
2014-Sep-29, 02:20 PM
So, you could have a group of intelligent, octopus-like creatures living in a vast undersea cavern with a big bubble of trapped atmosphere (or some gases) at its ceiling. Of course they'd examine the evnvronment there, and find it as harsh as the open air at the ocean surface, but within their control. Perhaps they would experiment to determine if they could exploit it in some way. Maybe one would scratch with a tool at the dry rocks and see a spark ...

IsaacKuo
2014-Sep-29, 02:33 PM
In principle, they could use fire, but one must wonder how vanishingly small the opportunities are to discover the properties of fire, let alone harness it. You sort of have to be immersed in an environment to get competent with it.
How did humans ever learn how to make ships? How did we ever come up with the idea of fishing? How did someone ever come up with the idea of diving for oysters and prying them open to eat them? I suspect that it's a combination of innate curiousity and simply a matter of someone being hungry enough to try anything. Just because we humans don't live in the water doesn't mean we can't live near it and learn about it.

For this hypothetical aquatic creature, the surface may be an inherently interesting place. The photic zone is where most food is anyway, and any sort of floating things tend to attract communities of ocean creatures (more food). Where there are floating things, there could naturally be twigs of stuff above water that is dried out, and thus vulnerable to being set on fire via lightning. Also, there could be animals which purposefully build "above water" nests to protect themselves from predators. Either way, when lightning at night ignites twigs, this will produce a glowing fire that naturally attracts the attention of nearby intelligent creatures.

TheyDidGoToTheMoon
2014-Sep-29, 03:53 PM
I have thought Astronauts landing on a water world would be quite interesting, not so much a species developing in such an enviroment. So far Kepler hasn't found, well we don't know, there could be a water world out there. That would be unique and quite interesting.

DaveC426913
2014-Sep-29, 05:09 PM
How did humans ever learn how to make ships? How did we ever come up with the idea of fishing? How did someone ever come up with the idea of diving for oysters and prying them open to eat them? I suspect that it's a combination of innate curiousity and simply a matter of someone being hungry enough to try anything. Just because we humans don't live in the water doesn't mean we can't live near it and learn about it.

Yes. ON the water.

We weren't able to do much IN the water (except as a dalliance, via swimming and freediving) until Cousteau came along with SCUBA. (I don't include fishing here because that is a passive use of the resource, we're talking about modifying the environment and its resources in situ.)



For this hypothetical aquatic creature, the surface may be an inherently interesting place. The photic zone is where most food is anyway, and any sort of floating things tend to attract communities of ocean creatures (more food). Where there are floating things, there could naturally be twigs of stuff above water that is dried out, and thus vulnerable to being set on fire via lightning. Also, there could be animals which purposefully build "above water" nests to protect themselves from predators. Either way, when lightning at night ignites twigs, this will produce a glowing fire that naturally attracts the attention of nearby intelligent creatures.

Yes, the trouble is that, each contrivance added (rafts, lightning) results in a longer adaptation time. Perhaps eons. It took us a long time to understand fire, though we could come by it quite easily. (Whole forests burning would have been a common occurrence for Early Man, giving him easy access to hardened wood, long, long before he learned to proactively manipulate fire.

How often would you get dried twigs - in a raft - that lightning struck - and set on fire - and kept burning - and created quantities of fire-hardened wood - thar were found to be useful - even once waterlogged? Scale down the proximity to a phenomenon by a few hundred thousand, and you get proportionate scale-up in time delay.

I'm not saying it wouldn't happen, I'm saying the progress would be so slow that it would likely be overtaken by more lucrative means of survival - which, though useful in the short-term - might ultimately stunt, or even extinguish, their progress.

DonM435
2014-Sep-29, 05:28 PM
That's why I seized upon Isaac's mention of "inverse lakes," namely, small pockets of atmosphere that might be less threatening and more easily explored than the great open "sea" that is the planet's atmosphere. Our creatures could explore the odd pehnomenon of "dry" material and how it behaves before looking to create it in the open atmosphere.

FarmMarsNow
2014-Sep-29, 05:54 PM
Almost any animal in the world seems to be tougher than a human, including oceanic creatures. If there were to be some creature on an ocean planet to develop technology like ours I'd expect it would be something unusually frail like we are, a real loser in life's gene pool. Maybe it would have something like a seahorse ancestry or a slug -- something just barely holding on. It would probably be a creature with live birth or some similar stage where the offspring live as parasites upon their parents. I would look for a creature with a lot of suffering in its cycle. If something like that can exist on an oceanic world, then there is hope that it could evolve technologically.

DaveC426913
2014-Sep-29, 06:09 PM
That's why I seized upon Isaac's mention of "inverse lakes," namely, small pockets of atmosphere that might be less threatening and more easily explored than the great open "sea" that is the planet's atmosphere. Our creatures could explore the odd pehnomenon of "dry" material and how it behaves before looking to create it in the open atmosphere.
Except that enclosed, underground subterranean caves are a VERY poor place to try to create fires.
No flammable materials.
No dry materials.
(Remember, this ocean planet has no trees, so no wood. Virtually anything on it will have a very large component of water.)

If they ever got a fire started (can't imagine how), it would quickly consume the oxygen and produce toxic byproducts that couldn't escape.

DaveC426913
2014-Sep-29, 06:11 PM
Almost any animal in the world seems to be tougher than a human, including oceanic creatures.
How so?

Mice are not tougher than humans. Birds, lizards, koalas, lots of fish, not tougher than humans...


I think you are being highly-humanocentric.

FarmMarsNow
2014-Sep-29, 08:27 PM
How so?

Mice are not tougher than humans. Birds, lizards, koalas, lots of fish, not tougher than humans...


I think you are being highly-humanocentric.
Clarification. They are ready to live from almost the moment they are born. In terms of survival they are tough. Humans are not so tough without our extensive and complex survival strategies. For the other animals everything is a lot simpler, because they are tougher. They have fur, feathers, scales and slime. They don't need to learn anything just to live.

DonM435
2014-Sep-30, 02:29 AM
Except that enclosed, underground subterranean caves are a VERY poor place to try to create fires.
No flammable materials.
No dry materials.
(Remember, this ocean planet has no trees, so no wood. Virtually anything on it will have a very large component of water.)

If they ever got a fire started (can't imagine how), it would quickly consume the oxygen and produce toxic byproducts that couldn't escape.

Okay, VERY poor, but far better than submerged.

So they ignite a pocket of methane and oxygen with a spark, and blow the lid off their cavern? The survivors will realize that fire and gases are a source of unique power, and curiosity will go forward.

eburacum45
2014-Sep-30, 11:59 AM
It is possible to have flame underwater, if you have a stream of two gases - acetylene and oxygen, or acetylene and chlorine, for example.

DonM435
2014-Sep-30, 12:41 PM
I'd say that the reason that humans adapted to a coexistence with lakes and seas is because it was necessary for them to be near water, and now and again someone was going to fall in. Accordingly, swimming developed defensively, and later boating, and eventually the exploitation of the lakes and seas.

Of course, the reverse, with sea creatures passively falling into the air isn't going to happen, so we have a tougher sell with this topic.

iquestor
2014-Sep-30, 01:24 PM
using terrestrial examples, it seems doubtful that waterbourne intelligence could result in ET communication. However: its a big universe and Im sure there are examples of how fire or heat could be used as a catalyst to jump start tool making.

One big problem I see is that these creatures probably can't see the sky, and begin to wonder what the stars are. I think that was a big one for us humans.

DaveC426913
2014-Sep-30, 01:39 PM
It is possible to have flame underwater, if you have a stream of two gases - acetylene and oxygen, or acetylene and chlorine, for example.

Yes but that has cause and effect reversed.

How are they going to make acetylene - let alone and oxy-acetylene flame - without the refinement technology to do so?

Barabino
2014-Sep-30, 02:04 PM
What evolutionary pressures could drive an aquatic species to intelligence can only be guessed at, especially by a non-aquatic species. And tool use? I have to admit, my 1st thought when responding here was, turning on a TV underwater. Reception would stink.

one of the worst mightmare I've ever had, it's me being an alien intelligent cold-blooded fish and watching one of my aliens tv sets playing fishy pr0n flicks (a sort of ball of interwowen lampreys)... deep underwater, in the cold and dark abyss :-/

WayneFrancis
2014-Oct-02, 07:51 AM
The biggest problem here is everyone assumes that you need fire to do stuff. Can intelligence evolve in an aquatic environment. Yes. Can they get technology. Depends on what you classify technology as. Can they use and make tools? Yes. Could they use naturally occurring energy sources in conjunction with tool use to construct "machines" why not. If you limit technology to only things that would be developed by primarily land based creatures then we've got a road block that we won't get by. I see no reason why a pre-electrical society couldn't arise. So what if they can't forge metal assuming that they can't is a bit short sighted. They can't forge metal like we forge metal but who says they even need to. Just because we can't think of how to do something doesn't mean it can't be done.

iquestor
2014-Oct-02, 12:41 PM
The biggest problem here is everyone assumes that you need fire to do stuff. Can intelligence evolve in an aquatic environment. Yes. Can they get technology. Depends on what you classify technology as. Can they use and make tools? Yes. Could they use naturally occurring energy sources in conjunction with tool use to construct "machines" why not. If you limit technology to only things that would be developed by primarily land based creatures then we've got a road block that we won't get by. I see no reason why a pre-electrical society couldn't arise. So what if they can't forge metal assuming that they can't is a bit short sighted. They can't forge metal like we forge metal but who says they even need to. Just because we can't think of how to do something doesn't mean it can't be done.

yes but the OP was looking for interstellar communication technology.

FarmMarsNow
2014-Oct-02, 12:51 PM
The biggest problem here is everyone assumes that you need fire to do stuff.Hlafordlaes has that as an opinion. Hypmotoad seems to make it an assumption. Nobody else has agreed. Everybody else says lack of fire does not preclude development of technology. My own opinion is that they would develop intelligence in response to a series of environmental changes, like our predecessors did, so I would expect intelligence to develop in a frail creature. Fire or lack of fire technology wouldn't matter necessarily.

If it did matter they could forge and melt things without fire. Perhaps they wouldn't have clays or metals, but they might have hot fissures like our ocean has. Being ocean creatures they might more readily learn to harness the sun's power to melt things, too.

Grey
2014-Oct-02, 01:32 PM
I can't resist posting this:


On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.

DaveC426913
2014-Oct-02, 03:06 PM
The biggest problem here is everyone assumes that you need fire to do stuff. Can intelligence evolve in an aquatic environment. Yes. Can they get technology. Depends on what you classify technology as. Can they use and make tools? Yes.
One of the hallmarks of a tool, is that it must be harder than the thing it is meant to do the tooling on. If your tools are limited to only materials found naturally, then your products are limited to only things that are softer than your naturally hard tools. This was fine when flint stones were around, and the hardest thing we needed to work was sinew and bone.

Not having access to chemical transformation doesn't stop technological advance, it simply stretches it out over times so long that species are likely to whither before they can get over the "hump" of being victim to the whims of their fragile and fickle environment.

So, fire opens the door to tools that can manipulate their environment beyond natural means. And it allows them to do to so on a time scale that favours survival.


...I would expect intelligence to develop in a frail creature.

You've got this backwards. Evolution doesn't operate on deficit (except via extinction); evolution operates on competitive advantage.

First, intelligence began to arise and demonstrated its survival advantage. The physical frailty is a consequence of diverting the organism's resources to the large energy-demanding brain. We drop hair, claws, speed, etc. as those turn out to be less advantageous - for a given energy budget - than a big brain.

FarmMarsNow
2014-Oct-02, 03:32 PM
Another possibly big obstacle to metal work underwater is corrosion. All metals corrode in salt water, so there is not any lasting quality to metal tools, even gold.

Glass is a more tempting base for tools and for partly buoyant underwater structures.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-02, 04:12 PM
You've got this backwards. Evolution doesn't operate on deficit (except via extinction); evolution operates on competitive advantage.

First, intelligence began to arise and demonstrated its survival advantage. The physical frailty is a consequence of diverting the organism's resources to the large energy-demanding brain. We drop hair, claws, speed, etc. as those turn out to be less advantageous - for a given energy budget - than a big brain.

But the frailty is what puts the brain over the top into sapient level abstract thought. If an organism has physical advantages, it doesn't have the evolutionary pressure to devote resources to large amounts of further brain development. The hominids that stayed in the trees had strength, so they had no need to develop our solution of complex tool use, complex communication, and intellect. We, naked on the plains, had no way to climb out of danger anymore, so our strength was less of a survival characteristic and we were forced to make greater use of these other gifts.

The physical evidence says that our brains grew above chimp size after our bodies adapted to upright walking and stone chipping.

DaveC426913
2014-Oct-02, 05:10 PM
But the frailty is what puts the brain over the top into sapient level abstract thought. If an organism has physical advantages, it doesn't have the evolutionary pressure to devote resources to large amounts of further brain development. The hominids that stayed in the trees had strength, so they had no need to develop our solution of complex tool use, complex communication, and intellect. We, naked on the plains, had no way to climb out of danger anymore, so our strength was less of a survival characteristic and we were forced to make greater use of these other gifts.
I follow the logic, it's just that it's flawed.

The proto-creature that had neither robustness of body, nor intelligence of mind would not out-compete; it would be extinct.

No, it is an advantage that causes a species to flourish, not a weakness.



The physical evidence says that our brains grew above chimp size after our bodies adapted to upright walking and stone chipping.
I think that may be an over-simplification. Our huge modern brains are mostly due to pre-frontal cortex, associated with higher abstract reasoning. It does not preclude hominids having the intelligence for tool-use before that.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-02, 06:17 PM
I follow the logic, it's just that it's flawed.

The proto-creature that had neither robustness of body, nor intelligence of mind would not out-compete; it would be extinct.

No, it is an advantage that causes a species to flourish, not a weakness.

Now that, to my mind, sounds like oversimplifying. Plenty of species with neither, manage to hang on... cockroaches predated dinosaurs, for example. It's a complex interaction of traits, strength, weakness, environments, and luck that determines survival.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-02, 06:20 PM
I think that may be an over-simplification. Our huge modern brains are mostly due to pre-frontal cortex, associated with higher abstract reasoning. It does not preclude hominids having the intelligence for tool-use before that.

But abstract reasoning is the trait that leads to science, and thus the type of technology that the OP is about. Chipped stone, no matter how elegantly made, cannot generate interstellar radio signals.

DaveC426913
2014-Oct-02, 06:49 PM
Now that, to my mind, sounds like oversimplifying. Plenty of species with neither, manage to hang on..
Any creature you care to name must have adequate survival traits - else it would be extinct.

Evolution does not work by having a species unable to survive, and then suddenly having it evolve something that saves it from the brink. Evolution works by having a species that out-competes its rivals for resources, and thus breeds more.


I'm not saying species don't 'adapt and come back from the brink' - lots do. What I'm saying is you've got cause-and-effect reversed. "Being on the brink" or frailty does not engender any advantage in evolution. Out-competing rivals for resources and breeding room is what engenders an advantage in evolution.



But abstract reasoning is the trait that leads to science, and thus the type of technology that the OP is about. Chipped stone, no matter how elegantly made, cannot generate interstellar radio signals.
But we're not talking about the trait that leads to science, we're talking about the trait that leads to better survival. Better vision-processing, shape-recognition, coordination in fingers to make tools, better balancing to handle an upright gait, tongue-vocal coordination - a host of survival skills, dependent on a larger energy-hungry brain.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-02, 06:53 PM
But we're not talking about the trait that leads to science, we're talking about the trait that leads to tool use.

Certain kinds of tool use. Building a nest out of sticks is not going to lead to the technologies specified in the OP. It requires a combination of dexterity and creative understanding of physical principles to reach that level. IE, science, or something similar to it, is necessary to create advanced technology.

DaveC426913
2014-Oct-03, 02:38 AM
Certain kinds of tool use. Building a nest out of sticks is not going to lead to the technologies specified in the OP.

Building a nest out of sticks is not generally considered tool use, so I'm not sure how the example is relevant.


It requires a combination of dexterity and creative understanding of physical principles to reach that level. IE, science, or something similar to it, is necessary to create advanced technology.Whether or not that is true, it is beside the point. You are jumping over the whole middle section where intelligence is simply a survival trait. Most mammals and some birds have a comparatively (to most other animals) stellar intelligence, and they use it for competitive survival advantage, without having anything to do with developing technology.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-03, 10:48 AM
Building a nest out of sticks is not generally considered tool use, so I'm not sure how the example is relevant.

Making a thing out of another thing. If that's not tool use in your book, so be it.


Whether or not that is true, it is beside the point.
I talked about the type of intelligence specified in the OP, that's hardly "beside the point", it IS the point.


You are jumping over the whole middle section where intelligence is simply a survival trait.
That's not a "middle section", just one of many characteristics (which plenty of species do fine without). Evolution is not an upward path, it's a kludge in all directions.

Anyway, technological intelligent tool use could conceivably arise from a variety of paths. We don't even know if any hypothetical ET species would have brains as we know them, let alone if they are like mammals or birds; their intelligence may be of an entirely different order.


Most mammals and some birds have a comparatively (to most other animals) stellar intelligence, and they use it for competitive survival advantage, without having anything to do with developing technology.

The problem-solving skills of the octopus, for example, did develop underwater. Certain species can open jars, use shells to dig, and to me those things mean they are ahead of most other sea life in intelligence.

DaveC426913
2014-Oct-03, 02:58 PM
Making a thing out of another thing. If that's not tool use in your book, so be it.
It's not my book; behavioral biologists consider nest-building not to be tool use. (And you should know that if you're going to get involved in a discussion about tool use.)

Which is why it is such a big deal to biologists when they do see birds actually making tools. This is qualitatively different than mere instinctive nest-building:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtmLVP0HvDg



I talked about the type of intelligence specified in the OP, that's hardly "beside the point", it IS the point.
No, you are conflating two things.
In post 36 (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?153576-Technologically-advanced-species-can-it-develop-on-a-water-world&p=2245049#post2245049) FarmMarsNow surmises that "[he] would expect intelligence to develop in a frail creature." He thought it was plausible that intelligence would evolve in a species because it didn't have the physical robustness to survive otherwise.

This began a sidebar discussion where, in post 38 (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?153576-Technologically-advanced-species-can-it-develop-on-a-water-world&p=2245961#post2245961) I demonstrate how is a misunderstanding of evolution. The suggestion that we lost physical robustness and THEN evolved intelligence - while it may sound plausible to you and to FMN - is simply not supported by evolutionary theory. Evolution does not operate on disadvantage (except via extinction); it only operates on advantage (via increased offspring survival).

That is the key point in this sidebar we've been having. I'm refuting FMN's intermediate surmise, not the OP. The rest of our discussion has been digressing from that.




The problem-solving skills of the octopus, for example, did develop underwater. Certain species can open jars, use shells to dig, and to me those things mean they are ahead of most other sea life in intelligence.
I agree 111%.

Octopus evolved intelligence FIRST - while they still have their physical survival skills; they did not 1] become frail, then 2] fortuitously develop intelligence to save them from the brink of extinction.

Again, I am simply refuting the claim that "intelligence would evolve from frailty".

FarmMarsNow
2014-Oct-03, 04:11 PM
In post 36 FarmMarsNow surmises that "[he] would expect intelligence to develop in a frail creature." He thought it was plausible that intelligence would evolve in a species because it didn't have the physical robustness to survive otherwise.
To clarify my thought: I also said " If there were to be some creature on an ocean planet to develop technology like ours I'd expect it would be something unusually frail like we are, a real loser in life's gene pool." I'm speculating about intelligence beyond what birds have or what octopi have and not about intelligence spontaneously appearing. I think I'm in line with evolutionary concepts. The way I think about it evolutionary pressure probably doesn't exist to cause octopi to develop technology like ours or for birds to do so, because they are already very fit in the same way that sharks are fit. Sharks were fit long ago being already flexible, so they haven't changed as much as we have. I'd expect that for octopi and birds to move beyond their intelligence, to go beyond what they have; it will likely only happen if one of their advantages is taken away forcing them to rely upon intelligence more. Supposedly that is how they got to where they are already, and that is what supposedly happened to us humans. We keep having to rely upon intelligence more due to other changes, a string of coincidences that keep leaving us in difficult situations. Sharks on the other hand have been treated like princes by nature. They hatch, and then everything is food for them. They don't have to think about it to survive well.

iquestor
2014-Oct-03, 05:46 PM
I think our intelligence evolved in stages. Early humans, who lacked the ability to fight off predators had to be somewhat clever, and also relied on a community for protection and sharing of resources. somehow we learned to use and control fire, and gained some time off from surviving to experiment with ways to improve chances of survival, and to get more out of what was available. using shaped rocks to extract marrow from bones left over from a kill could provide 1500 calories, enough to survive a day. fire hardened sticks and organized hunts (communication) allowed for more food sources previously out of reach of a lone human. As we evolved, I believe the ability for abstract thought, problem solving, reasoning and related skills because advantageous and became more and more refined.

Inclusa
2014-Oct-05, 03:08 AM
I think our intelligence evolved in stages. Early humans, who lacked the ability to fight off predators had to be somewhat clever, and also relied on a community for protection and sharing of resources. somehow we learned to use and control fire, and gained some time off from surviving to experiment with ways to improve chances of survival, and to get more out of what was available. using shaped rocks to extract marrow from bones left over from a kill could provide 1500 calories, enough to survive a day. fire hardened sticks and organized hunts (communication) allowed for more food sources previously out of reach of a lone human. As we evolved, I believe the ability for abstract thought, problem solving, reasoning and related skills because advantageous and became more and more refined.

Cooking can render certain bones edible (to a degree); the Spanish cuisine Roast Suckling Pig (Cochinillo Asado) features very soft bones; I'm not too sure if this increased nutrition for early humans.

iquestor
2014-Oct-05, 03:33 PM
Cooking can render certain bones edible (to a degree); the Spanish cuisine Roast Suckling Pig (Cochinillo Asado) features very soft bones; I'm not too sure if this increased nutrition for early humans.

what I'm talking about is marrow harvesting of the long bones of large prey animals left from a kill. There is much direct evidence that early humans routinely used sharp rock tools to cut the bones to harvest the marrow, and further concluded from field studies that roughly 1500 calories can be gained from this action, enough to satisfy one small adult human's daily caloric needs.

edit for clarification: cooking by boiling requires a great infrastructure that didn't exist at the time: ability , motivation and benefit to make large pots, which implies a fairly permanent settlement, and also organized activities such as agriculture. they were thousands of years from this at the time.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-05, 03:42 PM
edit for clarification: cooking by boiling requires a great infrastructure that didn't exist at the time: ability , motivation and benefit to make large pots, which implies a fairly permanent settlement, and also organized activities such as agriculture. they were thousands of years from this at the time.

No, boiling does not require pots. Some primitive hunter-gatherer groups use a method of heating stones and then dropping them into baskets sealed with pine pitch, and boil water without pottery.

iquestor
2014-Oct-05, 03:56 PM
It seems logical that landbourne creatures on a planet that supports combustion and clear skies would have an easier time developing IC technology than a waterbourne species.

Dolphins and octopi are definitely very intelligent, but their current biological shortcomings probably would prevent them from becoming a technology based species. Dolphins have no way or motivation to make or wield even simple tools. Octopi certainly do, but their 2-3 year life span and other traits work against them.

Noclevername
2014-Oct-05, 04:53 PM
Dolphins and octopi are definitely very intelligent, but their current biological shortcomings probably would prevent them from becoming a technology based species. Dolphins have no way or motivation to make or wield even simple tools. Octopi certainly do, but their 2-3 year life span and other traits work against them.

Lifespans can change. The earliest mammals probably didn't live long either.

What other traits do you mean?

FarmMarsNow
2014-Oct-06, 01:26 AM
It seems logical that landbourne creatures on a planet that supports combustion and clear skies would have an easier time developing IC technology than a waterbourne species.

Dolphins and octopi are definitely very intelligent, but their current biological shortcomings probably would prevent them from becoming a technology based species. Dolphins have no way or motivation to make or wield even simple tools. Octopi certainly do, but their 2-3 year life span and other traits work against them.
The evolutionary possibilities are not limited strictly to the capabilities of one species by itself. Just as our ancestors learned to harness animals and plants, alien creatures might do the same and their animals and plants might give them abilities that ours couldn't. On their planet they might tame a creature or plant that can act like one of our transistors or a jellyfish that can generate electricity or a worm that can produce hot chemical mixtures similar to our bombardier beetles. Whatever their weakness, if they are intelligent then they can put other less intelligent species to work for them which might overcome any seeming limitations such as an inability to light fires.

DaveC426913
2014-Oct-06, 11:56 PM
It seems logical that landbourne creatures on a planet that supports combustion and clear skies would have an easier time developing IC technology than a waterbourne species.

Dolphins and octopi are definitely very intelligent, but their current biological shortcomings probably would prevent them from becoming a technology based species. Dolphins have no way or motivation to make or wield even simple tools. Octopi certainly do, but their 2-3 year life span and other traits work against them.

Maybe so. But give them a million years at the top of the food chain, without human competition, and their potential could be huge.

Grey
2014-Oct-07, 05:59 PM
Maybe so. But give them a million years at the top of the food chain, without human competition, and their potential could be huge.Might take longer. The genus Tursiops is about 5 million years old, about twice as old as the genus Homo, and for the vast majority of that time, humans and their ancestors would not have been any kind of significant competition. I think the genus Octopus is even older, and since they spend most of their time in deep water, they would have had even less interference from humans until very recently. So they both had a significant head start, but we still invented radio astronomy first.

Barabino
2014-Nov-06, 07:09 AM
Yes, head start is not so significant...

Jens
2014-Nov-06, 07:14 AM
Might take longer. The genus Tursiops is about 5 million years old, about twice as old as the genus Homo, and for the vast majority of that time, humans and their ancestors would not have been any kind of significant competition.

Tursiops? Did you use a difficult term on porpoise?

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Nov-06, 08:48 AM
The idea is that raw food just doesn't provide enough calories. You have to get out more than you put in, and raw food takes a lot more work (meaning calories) for your muscles and organs to chew and digest, resulting in a net decrease in the amount of calories available for the rest of your cells. But you can only spend so many hours of the day eating--there must be time to sleep, forage and procreate, too. This limits the amount of calories you can get per day, and it turns out this is directly related to how many neurons you can grow, according to Fonseca-Azevedo and Herculano-Houzel.


The duo crunched numbers to figure out the metabolic costs of a human-sized brain, which is the third most energy-expensive organ in the human body, ranking below only skeletal muscle and the liver in terms of metabolic needs. The more neurons the brain has, the more energy it needs. If we ate an only-raw diet, to maintain the body size we humans possess, as well as the number of neurons our brains possess, people would have to eat for more than 9 hours per day, they found.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-10/eating-cooked-food-made-us-human-study-finds

Noclevername
2014-Nov-06, 02:49 PM
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-10/eating-cooked-food-made-us-human-study-finds

Applicable to hominid diets and metabolism, yes... But other species? Dolphins support a large complex brain by eating fish, as they are predators. No raw veggies in their diet at all.

Grey
2014-Nov-06, 03:07 PM
Tursiops? Did you use a difficult term on porpoise?:)

MVAgusta1078RR
2014-Nov-07, 05:43 PM
Applicable to hominid diets and metabolism, yes... But other species? Dolphins support a large complex brain by eating fish, as they are predators. No raw veggies in their diet at all.

"This limits the amount of calories you can get per day, and it turns out this is directly related to how many neurons you can grow,"

This is where it starts to get into physics rather than just biology. No matter what species, more neurons require more energy. The only way they'd be able to evolve more neurons and intelligence is by eating 24/7. Why cooking food came before the wheel.

Noclevername
2014-Nov-07, 06:25 PM
"This limits the amount of calories you can get per day, and it turns out this is directly related to how many neurons you can grow,"

This is where it starts to get into physics rather than just biology. No matter what species, more neurons require more energy. The only way they'd be able to evolve more neurons and intelligence is by eating 24/7. Why cooking food came before the wheel.

The diet referenced in the article appears to be a human diet, but uncooked. Grains were specifically mentioned. Dolphins do not eat grains, yet their brains have roughly as many neurons as a human. And no, dolphins do not eat 24/7.

Githyanki
2014-Nov-17, 12:06 AM
To answer the OP's question, yes. Do we have any actually evidence, no.

plant
2015-Nov-20, 01:59 PM
Perhaps they could use the energy source of hydrothermal vents to power simple machines like waterwheels. ?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

DaveC426913
2015-Nov-20, 02:11 PM
I just thought of a very weird idea.

Imagine a world where there were large bodies of hydrocarbons, like a lake of crude oil. If you were able to harvest oxygen from a terrestrial source, you could make a raft, stick a nozzle into the lake and squirt a jet of oxygen out. Light it up and you have a engine that can power your raft (or any other thing that needs power). It's kind of the opposite of having an oxygen atmosphere and squirting out a stream of fuel.

OK, got that that image your head? Now flip it over.

Imagine an aquatic species that lives on the under surface of the oceans. They could be buoyant, so "down" to them is toward the water's surface (to which they settle naturally), and "up" is toward the ocean floor (to which they must expend energy). They are very in tune with the air-water interface, and know the atmo like we ancient humans knew the sea. They could make vehicles that "floated" on this inverted interface. The earliest vehicles would be powered by sails that protruded "down" out of the sea into the air "below".

There is no reason why they wouldn't be quite comfortable with fire. They'd be as comfortable with atmo chemistry as humans are with, say, fishing, making peat moss and plowing the land. For them, fire is pretty safe, as it can only occur "below" ground-level. If something's burning, you simply lift it "above ground-level", and it's extinguished.

Looking at it this way, air and fire would not take aeons to harness, they would be staple tools of their upside-down civilization.


Now there's an idea for a novel. Remember to give me credit in the foreword!

IsaacKuo
2015-Nov-20, 07:55 PM
I just thought of a very weird idea.

Imagine a world where there were large bodies of hydrocarbons, like a lake of crude oil. If you were able to harvest oxygen from a terrestrial source, you could make a raft, stick a nozzle into the lake and squirt a jet of oxygen out. Light it up and you have a engine that can power your raft (or any other thing that needs power). It's kind of the opposite of having an oxygen atmosphere and squirting out a stream of fuel.

OK, got that that image your head? Now flip it over.

Imagine an aquatic species that lives on the under surface of the oceans. They could be buoyant, so "down" to them is toward the water's surface (to which they settle naturally), and "up" is toward the ocean floor (to which they must expend energy). They are very in tune with the air-water interface, and know the atmo like we ancient humans knew the sea. They could make vehicles that "floated" on this inverted interface. The earliest vehicles would be powered by sails that protruded "down" out of the sea into the air "below".

There is no reason why they wouldn't be quite comfortable with fire. They'd be as comfortable with atmo chemistry as humans are with, say, fishing, making peat moss and plowing the land. For them, fire is pretty safe, as it can only occur "below" ground-level. If something's burning, you simply lift it "above ground-level", and it's extinguished.

Looking at it this way, air and fire would not take aeons to harness, they would be staple tools of their upside-down civilization.


Now there's an idea for a novel. Remember to give me credit in the foreword!

I don't think it's a weird idea at all. I suggest the use of floating rafts for fire every time someone brings up this idea. Basically, I think it's utterly weird to think an aquatic species would have any particular difficulty with using fire. As you note, for them it's actually inherently safer. As far as I'm concerned, an aquatic species which has either an Earth-like atmosphere or oxygen rich upside-down lakes can develop advanced technology in much the same fashion we did. Kind of boring, even, to me.

For me, the more interesting question is how an aquatic species without a natural oxygen rich gas source might develop advanced technology. I think electricity based technology could be such a route. These hypothetical aliens would live in a Europa-like ocean environment bounded by ice rather than an atmosphere. Furthermore, I'm assuming there aren't any air pockets which pool into upside-down "lakes". Those would be convenient places to learn about fire and utilize fire. If we assume those don't exist, though, then it's a more interesting puzzle to figure out how their advanced technology might plausibly develop...

swampyankee
2015-Nov-22, 01:42 PM
Clarification. They are ready to live from almost the moment they are born. In terms of survival they are tough. Humans are not so tough without our extensive and complex survival strategies. For the other animals everything is a lot simpler, because they are tougher. They have fur, feathers, scales and slime. They don't need to learn anything just to live.

That's oversimplified. Canine, ursine, and feline offspring are altricial; so are the young of raptors and many songbirds. Field studies have shown many mammals and birds need to learn hunting and foraging behaviors. True, an unarmed human won't win a contest with a lion, but then a zebra won't, either.

Inclusa
2015-Nov-27, 08:09 AM
That's oversimplified. Canine, ursine, and feline offspring are altricial; so are the young of raptors and many songbirds. Field studies have shown many mammals and birds need to learn hunting and foraging behaviors. True, an unarmed human won't win a contest with a lion, but then a zebra won't, either.

Then again, are precocial animals at any disadvantages, though?
Ironically, except for the orcas (the natural "kings of the sea"), armed humans are the only predators of large whales (and many large animals).
As far as the "lion story" goes, do any people remember the dentist, Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil the lion? His deed is NOT considered heroic (previously, killings of large cats were considered heroic deeds or acts of valour; since most big cats are now endangered today, we change our thinking.)