What if a UFO hovered over your house and got sucked up inside. Oops! You’ve been abducted. What do you think aliens look like? Human-looking, with big heads, huge oval ball eyes, green skin, thin limbs, big feet, and ridiculously creepy as the devil. That’s your worst sci-fi scenario, but would be really awesome for most scientists to investigate if you manage to survive and escape. Here’s the catch: scientist have a convincing hypothetical idea of what to expect if you happen to see our extraterrestrial neighbors.
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What We Expect We’ll Find
Let’s be honest: we don’t even know if any extraterrestrial lifeforms exist in the universe aside us, or even if they do, if they are single-celled, more complex organisms, or sentient societies. The uncertainty seems overwhelmingly impossible to make any predictions about aliens yet, but there are a few things we can predict with some level of confidence.
In a 2017 study, scientists made a very basic point about what to expect about aliens considering how evolution plays out in the universe. All evolution must follow the same principles of natural selection. What this means is that, similar to life here on Earth, life formation on other planets will probably be somehow hierarchical. Alien lifeforms would have probably evolved in a similar path from lower- to higher-levels of complexity.
I’ll See You When You Get Here
To demonstrate the principle of evolutionary life formation, scientists later created the octomite — a hypothetical organism (alien) that’s made up of a hierarchy of other organisms. This prediction seems like a reasonable safe bet; probably alien lifeforms will be at least somewhat symmetrical. That’s what all lifeforms on Earth are, and also inorganic formation like crystals and galaxies. Symmetry is a useful baseline from which many evolutionary traits can arise.
Convergent evolution is yet again another concept that forms the basis of evolutionary biology that could help predict the possibility of alien lifeforms. Let’s consider that evolutionary case of bats and whales. Both species have the ability to echolocate, which has nothing to do with their genetics. This evolutionary trait is as a result of the fact that echolocation happens to have been adapted by both species.
Thinking About The Unknowable
What that means is that, you pretty much have a lot in common with aliens than you imagined, thanks to convergent evolution. On the contrary, we might not. This concept might help us explain why many species share similar traits physically, but are genetically diverse. Its pretty convincing to think that aliens look like us (or like organisms here on Earth), and wouldn’t be a surprise if that turns out to be the case. But remember, whatever conditions that forge our evolutionary processes here might not be the same story somewhere else.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Sep 08, 2019.