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Reason behind Human Intelligence ?

  1. Dec 21, 2012 #1
    Balance !!! this is all an ecosystem is about ,balance between predator and prey ,balance between births and deaths but why would evolution lead to a species that can overpower it's own predators and disrupt the entire ecosystem and multiply without any constraints,limited only by resources and intentions? Is human intelligence an accident?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Ecosystems are not static. There are also natural events that occur like earthquakes, meteor strikes, volcanos ... which upset the balance in some way allowing one species to dominate if they can adapt to the changing environment.

    You could compare it to using betting strategies in a casino. Each player representing a species. As they play at different tables (environment) with differing strategies one player may eventually dominate over another so the better strategy wins and is passed on to the children of the player...

    Here the selection process would favor the one who came up with a better gaming strategy (the one with the better brain, the one who can remember better/can reason better/can adapt better to changing environments) as they played while the casinos change their gaming rules due to internal and external influences.
  4. Dec 21, 2012 #3
    Well, i did not consider natural disasters because i don't think they have any role in humans becoming the dominant species, if you are talking about dinosaur extinction or previous extinction events ,it is never about only one species taking over,rather it is an entire class of organisms that start dominating the ecosystem they live in ,for example mammals got the chance to dominate after all giant reptiles became extinct but not ONE SPECIES ,it was the entire class of mammals but if you look at the current situation it is just human dominated.

    This is the way evolution works isn't it ? the same process has been happening ever since the start of evolution but never has one species taken over the entire ecosystem ,when ever a predator comes up with a new strategy the prey also comes up with a counter strategy ,if this was not the case then all prey items would have gone extinct when the first of the predators started evolving.

    In the present human dominated ecosystem ,there are no such species with some special ability or technique to counter human intelligence.

    If you observe other top predators in the natural world they all have some kind of limitations for example in Africa
    (1) lions may be strong but they cannot chase down the fastest of gazelles,they need to think twice before they attack a fully grown African elephant.hyenas give tough competition.Lion cubs can be killed by rival males which also leads to population control.

    (2) cheetahs are the fastest land animals but they cannot take down large prey nor can they take down preys like gazalles if they don't time it right (cheetahs are faster but gazalles have more stamina) and they can have their hunt stolen away by larger predators.

    (3) leopards don't stand a chance against lions or hyenas ,so they depend on tree climbing skills.

    There can be many more examples but for human predators there seems to be no limitations on what or how much they kill or hunt.
  5. Dec 21, 2012 #4


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    Gold Member

    Is any other biological trait not an accident?

    Species are not optimally efficient in terms of the shared ecosystem. Even within a particular species, prolonging the species as a whole can come at the expense of males, females, or some other group-type.
  6. Dec 21, 2012 #5
    I would bet it has happened millions of times that a predator has evolved that could and did completely wipe it's prey species. In this case the predator would also die out, or, it would be forced to tap a prey species to which it was not so superior. It could well be lions have to chase gazelles only because they wiped out some much easier target millennia ago.
  7. Dec 21, 2012 #6


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    2017 Award

    Evolution does not have a goal, so in general evolution will not aim towards creating balance, Rather, evolution simply states that species that are the most fit will survive. Because human intelligence gives humans a great competitive advantage over other organisms, intelligence has been subjected to natural selection and has resulted in modern day humans. This process occurs whether or not humans have a positive or negative impact on their ecosystems so long as these effects do not affect the ability of humans to pass on their genes to the next generation.

    Although humans have altered their environment, these disruptions to the environment have merely given other species the opportunity to move in. For example, one could point to the widespread proliferation of important agricultural organisms (e.g. rice, corn, wheat) and domesticated animals (e.g. cows, dogs, horses) as "evolutionary" changes in the environment in response to humans (albeit through artificial selection rather than natural selection). Similarly, some species, specifically some of our pathogens that we have set out to eradicate (e.g. bacteria, viruses), have evolved to counteract our efforts at eradication (e.g. the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria or drug resistant viruses).
  8. Dec 21, 2012 #7
    Question is how successful are we in dominating our ecosystem. Don,t you think we are limited by the resources we use, to build our civilization. Only in the last 10 k yrs we have increased in number(actually exponentially only in the last 100 yrs) . Before that we were only in small groups as hunter gatherers.
  9. Dec 22, 2012 #8
    Humans aren't the dominant organisms. Maybe humans have intelligence but when it comes to pure dominance, bacteria is the dominant organism on the planet. It acts as the keystone for every living organisms environment.
  10. Dec 22, 2012 #9
    There are so many variables across such a huge timeline, it's impossible to give a definitive answer. What if intelligent life is evolving and destroying billions of other planets and it's just a common trend in the universe? What if we're all in the Matrix and AI is the dominant "life" form? What if aliens are here and they've taught us everything we know? (just an example, not endorsing the conspiracy)

    You could ask hundreds of these questions, there's just too many unknowns.

    Also I think you can safely say some of it was by chance. (if by chance the Solvay Conference was hit by a bomb...would we be nearly as advanced as now? would we even be here?)
  11. Dec 22, 2012 #10
    I got the point , thanks
  12. Dec 26, 2012 #11
    Actually, there are. If you consider "balance", humans can die if they do not respect balance. A lion can be just a lion, and still the last lion cannot be murdered or hunted. Actually, an "intelligent" human who sees the last lion eating his own child and have a gun at hand in time to stop, should consider not to kill the lion as the most "intelligent" action.

    So, the lion can hunt humans, and all the humans can do is run. All species have the ability to counter human. They just need to exist. Their extinction is a hazard humans can not afford to let happen.

    Now, looking to this angle, I believe intelligence is really a bad accident. We would be happier if not intelligent. Ironically we praise it, because we can't see ourselves on a lion's shoes (without intelligence, but living the day by day, eating, sleeping, not spending tons of energy each)

    As they say: ignorance is a bliss.
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