Recent studies show that aliens may be more like us than we may think.
Sci-fi movies and books mostly encourage the belief that aliens are monster-like beings, those who are very different from humans. However, according to research, we could have more in common with our extra-terrestrial neighbors, unlike the traditional belief.
In the recent study that was published in the International Journal of Astrobiology scientists from the University of Oxford, it was noted for the first time how evolutionary theory can be used to support alien likelihoods and better understand their behavior. In this study, it was revealed that aliens are possibly shaped by the same processes and mechanisms that shaped humans, such as natural selection. This theory supports the argument that extraterrestrial life forms undergo natural selection, and are just like us, evolving to be fitter and stronger over time.
A researcher in Oxford’s Department of Zoology, Sam Levin, said: “A fundamental task for astrobiologists (those who study life in the cosmos) is thinking about what extra-terrestrial life might be like. But making predictions about aliens is hard. We only have one example of life – life on Earth — to extrapolate from.” He pointed out that the last approaches in the field of astrobiology have been largely mechanistic. These approaches only took what we see on Earth, and what we know about chemistry, geology, and physics to make predictions about aliens.
In his research, Sam Levin proposed an alternative approach, which is to use evolutionary theory to make predictions that are independent of Earth’s details. He believes that this is a useful approach as theoretical predictions will apply to silicon-based aliens – for example, alien that do not have DNA and breathe nitrogen. By using this idea of alien natural selection as a framework, Levin’s team addressed extra-terrestrial evolution, and how complexities arise in space.
According to what we have seen on earth, species complexity has increased tremendously as a result of a handful of events. These changes are known as major transitions, which occur when a group of separate organisms evolves into a higher-level organism. A good example of this is when cells become multi-cellular organisms. The theory and empirical data all suggest that extreme conditions are required for major transitions to occur.
Levin’s research also makes specific predictions about the biological make-up of complex aliens and offers many theories as to what they might look like. He went on to add, “We still can’t say whether aliens will walk on two legs or have big green eyes. But we believe evolutionary theory offers a unique additional tool for trying to understand what aliens will be like, and we have shown some examples of the kinds of strong predictions we can make with it.”
He and his team believe that by predicting the major transitions undergone by aliens – which is how complexity has arisen in species on earth, they can conclude that there is a high chance that they would look like us due to the level of predictability to evolution.
Aliens, like humans, are predicted to be made up of a hierarchy of entities, which all cooperate to produce an extra-terrestrial being. There would have been mechanisms in place to eliminate conflict, to maintain cooperation, and to keep the organism functioning at each level of the organism. Levin’s team even offered to provide some examples of what these mechanisms will be like.
According to Sam Levin, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of habitable planets in our galaxy alone. As for now, it is impossible to say whether or not we’re alone on Earth, but small steps are being taken to answer that if we’re not alone, what exactly are our neighbors like.