Hominid Aliens

The fact that most aliens from outer space in science fiction movies and TV shows have the same shape as humans can be explained rather simply: that's the only way an actor can fit into the costume. But it doesn't help us imagine the probability that any extraterrestrial life would not resemble humans at all. Kyle Munkittrick constructed a theory, adapted from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that reconciles this anomaly by explaining why distant planets have human-shaped intelligent beings, called the Hominid Panspermia Theory.
Intelligent life evolved in the universe – 0nce. The First Intelligent Species became spacefaring but, unlike the adventures depicted in most science fiction, they found an uninhabited universe. Non-intelligent species were too rudimentary or too far away to be detected. Thus, as both a memorial to themselves and to enliven the universe, the First Intelligent Species seeded the necessary DNA for the eventual evolution of intelligent life in the primordial oceans of every planet that could support life. The First Intelligent Species did not only design the DNA to evolve intelligently, but to parallel their own evolution. An application of the idea that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” on the scale of life itself. Our corner of the universe thereby became the home of Vulcans, Romulans, Cardassians, Humans, Betazoids, and other hominid species which are all decedents of the First Intelligent Species. Therefore, in the eyes of the universe, the many hominid species are closely related despite their disparate home planets.

Of course, the theory itself is science fiction, but the mental exercise helps the scientist to enjoy science fiction, no matter how cheesy the alien design. As a bonus, the graphic at the article has twenty aliens you are invited to help identify. Link

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I read a theory on this a while back that stated that were evolution to reoccur on another planet, the species on that planet would look eerily similar to ours. The reason is that given all the universal constants and constraints provided by habitable environments, only a small set of adaptive variants are possible. So even if mutation was completely random (which it is not) virtually the same traits would have to be selected for. Ultimately producing an eerily hominid-like species.

Another way of saying this is that the evolution of the universe is constrained by the field of possibility (not solely probability). We might say the range of probability falls within the range of possibility. You can't have any square-circles, wooden-irons or things like that (See: Aristotle's Law of Identity and Non-Contradiction).

While we may imagine the field of possibility to be so large as to include a number of probabilities, this may only be the result of our limited understanding. Were we able to observe and hold in mind all the myriad constraints and constants that drive the evolution of the universe forward, we may find that each and every step is a necessary one.

Stated otherwise; we might say that the universe driven by logical necessity tends toward a teleological end of some sort. This point-of-view is given a bit more credence when the Anthropic Coincidences are taken into account. The "fine-tuned" universe contention in cosmology is seemingly resolved by introducing the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP) which roughly states "The universe had to happen as it did in order for us to be here inquiring about the universe. If it did not happen as such, we would not be here asking the question." This is a slippery way of making a teleology our of cosmology while avoiding all the teleological implications.

Though there is no formal AP that reflects this point of view, it is my hypothesis that not only is a self-reflective observer needed to inquire into the existence of the universe, but one is needed for the appearance of anything existing at all. So that anything appears to exist in the first place, is the universal constraint which necessitates our existing in order to reflect on the existence of the universe. Were it not necessary for anything to appear to exist, then we may very well not have existed. But during such a time when we did not exist and no other self-reflective species existed; there would be no appearance of anything existing either.

So on those grounds; I feel there really is a teleology of sorts, but it is not as if some external deity imposed a divine plan upon the universe, rather the plan is divine because it is axiomatic, because it would not be possible to have any existence otherwise. It is divine because it transcends all probability and describes the realm of possibility and necessity. That the Anthropic Coincidences approach an infinitessimally small improbability is only problematic if the realm of possibility is exaggerated. As too is it only possible to have wide range of evolutionary probability when the field of evolutionary possibility is exaggerated.
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@cnidaria I absolutely agree, convergent evolution is much more plausable explanation. We have clear evidence that convergent evolution occures in similar environment conditions.

As for probability of that occuring out there in the universe, we really can't say anything as we have only one sample of a planet with inteligent life so far.
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The person who wrote this was doing so well right up until the phrase "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." The recapitulation theory, proposed in the 1790's and promoted by, among others, Ernst Haeckel, stated that "the embryological development of an individual organism (its ontogeny) followed the same path as the evolutionary history of its species (its phylogeny)" (Wikipedia). Modern biology rejects the theory on a number of grounds, most importantly that there aren't really fish, amphibian, reptile, etc. stages in the embryological development of, say, a human. In addition, different parts of an embryo develop at different rates. While the anterior end of an embryonic chick may already have a recognizable fore-, mid-, and hindbrain, as a bird ought to, the posterior end may still be neurulating and look rather fish-like.
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I would also say that convergent evolution might create aliens that superficially resemble humans, even though they may have completely different anatomy and origins. In the same way a tasmanian tiger looks so much like a dog. This is assuming that intelligent, space-faring races fill a similar ecological niche and evolved similar body parts to cope with similar environmental problems. This also assumes that they evolved on a planet similar to earth. Personally, I don't think this is very likely, but it is one possible explanation.
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