How can representatives of extraterrestrial life look like? Many astrobiologists, writers and artists try to answer this question, ultimately bringing images of Vulcans and Klingons to our world, as well as other exotic forms, which are not similar to any terrestrial form. But often the vision of these artists is limited. As the Oxford University research team notes, all astrobiological attempts to “draw” extraterrestrial life, as a rule, took as a basis the earthly life and extrapolated it with the help of chemistry, geology and physics.
It seems logical, is not it? For example, the eyes on our planet are found everywhere – would it be logical to find them and the aliens? We are life forms based on carbon, so would it be expected that life forms on the other end of the galaxy will also be based on it?
However, according to researchers from Oxford, who published a study in the International Journal of Astrobiology in November 2017, natural selection is the most solid foundation on which we can base our predictions of extraterrestrial life; natural selection remains a directed force that leads us to the life that we know. In the absence of the creator, the authors emphasize, natural selection is necessary for the development of the organism, and we probably would not have considered it an organism if it had not gone through natural selection.
Although natural selection is necessary for life, scientists add that the development of a complex life requires significant transitions, when several parts of the body “strive for one goal.” These transitions, in turn, are caused by restrictive environmental conditions. Combine this line of thinking with more mechanistic extrapolations of chemistry, geology and physics, and you will have a more reliable way to predict the shape of the alien.
And what kind of form can this be? Scientists do not specifically point to Klingons and Vulcans as examples, but they really can be more like us than we think, and so many believe.
Cambridge paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris believes that aliens can be very similar to us, in part because of convergent evolution – an aspect of natural selection that leads to the independent evolution of key biological traits, such as the eyes and wings.
Birds and bats, for example, independently developed the ability to fly. The extraterrestrial form of life, arising from the same process of natural selection, may well develop similar adaptations for navigation in the environment. Their eyes can be very different from ours, but serve the same purpose.
Conway Morris even goes so far as to apply this principle to cognition. He argues that the human intellect can be cosmic inevitability, although the physical brain itself can be quite inhuman.
And if aliens think like us, does this mean that they philosophize like us? The writer Scott Bakker believes that yes. He believes intelligent aliens will beckon the same uncertainties that concern us here on Earth. Perhaps they are also interested in how the aliens look and how they can think.