Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homo Sapien?

  1. Dec 8, 2007 #1
    If evolution is correct, might we be fairly certain than in many thousands of years, the new "intelligent species" on Earth will be an entirely different species, and humans will have long since gone extict?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2007 #2

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Homo sapiens will continue to evolve as it is doing now to the point where he will no longer be able to breed with present-day humans. They will be a different species.


    As to whether that means "humans" will be extinct, well, that's a different question. I imagine they will still be calling themselves humans.
     
  4. Dec 9, 2007 #3

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well, I disagree with Dave to some extent, but only because I suspect that we will consciously control our own evolution as opposed to just letting nature take its course.
     
  5. Dec 9, 2007 #4
    What Danger said...

    with modern medicine and all the amenities available to us today, we are actively fighting selection.
     
  6. Dec 9, 2007 #5

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    We may be fighting/stoping natural selection, yes...

    ...but we will continue to evolve; it will just be based on criteria that we humans set (whether deliberately or by happenstance).

    Evolution doesn't actually stop.
     
  7. Dec 10, 2007 #6

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There is a bad base assumption afoot here-- there is NO direction, NO intention, NO ultimate goal in mind, when Natural Selection works on a population. It does not set out to create more intelligence, nor does it ever set out to do anything in particular.

    Intelligence happened to have been selected for. So far it has been selected for in some species. This is something we can see. We cannot see into the future.

    Now consider this statement:
    5 days from now intelligence will be strongly selected against in all species -- Forever.

    This is silly but is completely with possibility. Because Natural Selection does not have an agenda that says ' We want to keep on selecting for more intelligence in species X'. And we cannot project our current environment into the future except to say 'we expect things to be a lot like they have been recently, so it not unreasonable to assume things will go along as they have been going'.
     
  8. Dec 10, 2007 #7

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I see no such assumption whatever. Are we reading the same thread?
     
  9. Dec 10, 2007 #8

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    First post:
    new "intelligent species". Seems like a strong assumption to me. YMMV.
     
  10. Dec 10, 2007 #9

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Are you seriously suggesting that selection will proceed over the next few millenia and intelligence will fall by the wayside? Again, the thing to realize here is that we are NOT talking merely about natural selection any more. Social selection among our intelligent species is greatly dominating natural selection, and it is unlikely - barring a exterminating catastriophe - that other traits will dominate over intelligence in the long run such that we will lose it as a competitive trait. (note that we are talking absolute intelligence i.e. as compared to other survival traits like fleetness-of-foot, we are not talking relative intelligence among an intelligent species).
     
  11. Dec 10, 2007 #10

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't see how it is possible to project thousands of years into the future with respect to another intelligent species, which has not evolved from homo sapiens. I imagine that some groups of humans would be very concerned if some other species look as if it would challenge humans for dominance.

    Populations of homo sapiens might diverge, and some populations, if isolated might die off or experience a significant decline in population and standard of living.

    It is an interesting question (perhaps philosophical) as to whether humanity is subject to natural selection. To some extent it is, since humans are creatures and part of nature. We however have the capacity and inclination to attempt to change/manipulate Nature, or to improve it (What is said about Progress?). However, perhaps some change in detrimental in the long term, and that could diminish the viability of some.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2007
  12. Dec 10, 2007 #11

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I thought most people were selecting for people that appear to meet the standards of celebrity attractiveness through plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry. I would think the number of people actually selecting for intelligence instead of appearance are in the minority, at least according to polls we've done here at the forum.

    In reality we're selecting for not too bright ugly people that will need even more plastic surgery to be acceptable.
     
  13. Dec 10, 2007 #12

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    :rofl:

    Personally, I was looking for someone who was intelligent or at least could understand what I was talking about, as well as someone who shared similar or mutual interests in arts and sciences. Attractiveness was more or less beside the point.


    Clearly, there is selection in the mating process, and people keep reproducing.
     
  14. Dec 10, 2007 #13

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It did not, until this moment, occur to me that the OP might have been speculating about this future intelligent species being other than a descendant of man. That is a completely different question than what I was answering.
     
  15. Dec 10, 2007 #14

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    One wants to be very careful of saying things like this out loud...

    The only appropriate response is that attractiveness was very important in your selection process.

    Unless you want to sleep with the dog.



    The other day, I was joking around with a workmate about "size matters" (we were originally talking about cubicle space but of course the double entendre was obvious).

    She said that, really, size doesn't matter. I said "no, no the only correct thing for you to say is that size does matter." The confusion on her face prompted me to elaborate: "If you say size doesn't matter to you, then I know something about your husband that I don't need to know." She said she'd never thought of it that way.
     
  16. Dec 10, 2007 #15

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I thought the OP was referring to an entirely different species, rather than humans evolving to a different species, based on the new "intelligent species" on Earth will be an entirely different species, and humans will have long since gone extict?, and I think that was what Jim was addressing (please correct me if I'm wrong). I would think if humans evolve into something more intelligent, they are still humans.

    I don't mean to infer the my wife (then girl friend) at the time was not attractive. She was definitely cute.

    I dated a number very attractive women (one of whom posed for Playboy - and I wish she hadn't). However, those relationships were only platonic friendships and couldn't develop further because we were not compatible or suitable for each other. Some of the most attractive women, the ones getting hit all the time, were not so bright. Some of the brightest women (one who went on to get PhD in biochemistry) were attractive, but incompatible with respect to interests such as music, lifestyle, . . . .
     
  17. Dec 10, 2007 #16

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think Evo's point actually illustrates the point very well. We can try to artificially select traits, but that does NOT stop natural selection from happening as well. If the traits that we favor through sexual selection are those only obtained through plastic surgery, we may very well wind up with the opposite of what we intended.

    Other examples where artificial selection can't overcome natural selection exists in dairy cattle. We've artificially selected for high milk producers. Inadvertently, that preference for high milk production led to a natural selection process whereby we've wound up with a major problem of subfertile dairy cattle.

    Same with some dog breeds, while attempting to get certain "desireable" traits, we've wound up with some breeds that have a very high incidence of maladies like hip dysplasia.
     
  18. Dec 11, 2007 #17

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    On a brighter note: we could just work to redefine ugly. :smile:

    Dave - there is no one grand eugenic strategy going on this world to promote intelligence. The only thing I see even remotely resembling that is India seriously skewing sex ratios with selective abortion. Ditto China.

    The only effect of that will be a seething mass of umarried, unhappy males in those two countries in about 25 years. Since you can see into the future, it's okay for me to do it, too. I forecast lots of men over there finding novel+nice and not very nice ways of finding a bride. Which will impact the world. Hang on to your female children. :)

    Here is what I'm saying, what Moonbear is saying - you cannot predict the outcome of Natural Selection or of human tampering with selection. Trying to override NS produces a lot of untoward effects. Period.

    If you want to disagree, fine. But as far as I know, based on today's data, humans selectively breeding for intelligence is not going to work. It's a pipe dream.

    As an aside - Evo hit it on the head. In Western culture, being really smart is almost slightly tolerated if it pays the bills, but being physically attractive is something most Westerners are willing to suffer great financial and physical pains to acheive. So, what do you s'pose the Mommies of America are gonna pick when they can afford just one: super smart or super cute?
     
  19. Dec 11, 2007 #18

    DaveC426913

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Don't misunderstand me - I'm not talking about intelligence within the species. I'm simply saying that, as a species, intelligence will always be our primary survival advantage. Fast forward 40,000 years and I doubt that we will be dumb, instinctual beasts that are fleet-of-foot or lethal in tooth and claw. We'll still have the competitive advantage of intelligence.
     
  20. Dec 12, 2007 #19

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Plan B for 40K years from now:

    Ernst Mayr and others tried to estimate the average "lifespan" of a species.
    This was back when the estimates for all of the species that ever were on earth = 100 million.

    We now estimate ~30 million extant species and dropping fast. Anyway, you can see it was a gross overestimate of lifespan, and was ~200,000 years. Humans have been around circa 130000 years. That means we are going to hit the extinction wall real soon now. IMO. I think that ultimately ants will win, since they already have won, according to E O Wilson.

    Read a review of his take on the idea that 30% of all vertebrate and invertebrate terrestrial biomass is ants.

    reference: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/97/26/14028
    Note it is pnas.org....
     
  21. Dec 13, 2007 #20
    This I'll have to disagree with. Just because intelligence worked pretty well in the past with us doesn't mean it always will. Situations do exist where it is conceivable that for the species to survive we'd give up intellect. I doubt this will happen as well, I'm just saying it's possible.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?