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Monday, October 12, 2015

Big brains: A costly anomaly?

Humans Galore     (Photo by Lars Curfs) 
Live Science might be in the process of growing even livelier.  As the search for alien beings intensifies, researchers are wondering whether energy-hogging brains are an anomaly peculiar to earthlings.

Big intelligent brains can be biologically costly to the host organism.  It takes years in order to “grow” them properly, which is why humans are virtually helpless “larvae” during early childhood.

Biologists aren’t quite sure what the evolutionary payoff has been for such
elaborate cognitive “hardware.”  Because female humans are as smart as males, mating displays are probably not the primary reason.

Social competition, however, might be.  High levels of intelligence have fostered complex human interrelationships," which in turn have insured survival and dominance.  It is intelligence, after all, that has enabled humans to widely populate (infest?) their home planet.

If space aliens have also evolved in highly intelligent ways, then Stephen Hawking might be right:  Look out, Earth!  Because aggression and intelligence often evolve together, these aliens might be about as friendly as Columbus was to the Natives that he allegedly “discovered.”


Copyright October 12, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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