Alternative civilizations: dinosaurs, dolphins and rats

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Alternative civilizations: dinosaurs, dolphins and rats
Alternative civilizations: dinosaurs, dolphins and rats

People are far from the only representatives of the animal kingdom in which intelligence could develop. Even civilizations may appear on our planet more than once - and it is far from the fact that they will be created by primates like us.

Dinosaur skeleton

It's no secret that ordinary chimpanzees are intellectually as good as a two-year-old child. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and even orangutans can be taught to speak the language of the deaf and dumb and even communicate using the keyboard. They know how to joke, swear, talk about the past and the future. This means only one thing - representatives of the alternative mind live side by side with us, and everywhere.

The mind of the lizards

There are many examples of animals that once embarked on the path of "intellectualization", but for one reason or another could not reach the required level, there are many in the fossil record. If you literally dig deep, then among them you can even name dinosaurs, namely, theropods that lived at the end of the Cretaceous period.

Among them, there were relatively intelligent forms: their brain, although it remained slightly larger than that of a chicken, was still large for dinosaurs. Moreover, some paleontologists have argued that the rate of increase in theropod brains was comparable to the rate of increase in the brain of our Australopithecus ancestors. True, in those cases, the brain began to increase from the 400 g mark, which cannot be said about theropods. But these words, quite possibly, would have been written now by a descendant of the ancient lizards, if it had not been for the catastrophe that ruined their "career", which happened 65 million years ago and led to total death.

Aggression is a hindrance to intelligence

However, closer to our time, many animals also entered the slippery slope of the development of the mind. Most of them are, of course, primates. At least, it is among this group that the "smartest" are found most often. Baboons are an example.

The first baboons evolved quite clearly towards an increase in the brain. The rate of its increase in these animals was the same as in the great apes. However, baboons took the path of strengthening the hierarchy in the group and, too carried away by internal competition, forever "forgot" about the development of intelligence.


Planet of the apes

There were many potential candidates for the development of the mind among the hominid apes. So, we can recall the fossil species of primates of the Miocene epoch - Oreopithecus, "swamp monkeys", the remains of which were found in Italy and East Africa. This is a very peculiar kind of monkeys, which actually switched to upright walking, although not quite full-fledged: walking on two legs, the swamp monkeys supported themselves, clinging to branches. But still, hands were almost free for complex instrumental activity. In addition, these animals had small jaws, so nothing prevented the brain from growing in size.

Alas, about 7 million years ago, a disaster struck with Oreopithecus. The cooling and drying of the climate led to the fact that their native swampy island was connected to the mainland, and the Oreopithecines, which had previously evolved in the absence of predators, were completely unprepared for their appearance. The fate of the Oreopithecus was predetermined - they were simply eaten.

Interestingly, the same climate changes led to the fact that our ancestors did get off the trees, and, in the end, became people. But we must remember that they evolved in Africa, in a constant environment of fierce predators, so they were quite ready for this.


Another example is gigantopithecus.These are the largest monkeys of "all times and peoples", the remains of which have been found in Southeast Asia. Despite the fact that a full-fledged skull of gigantopithecus has not yet been found, scientists have at their disposal their amazing jaws, which are one and a half times larger than even those of a gorilla. Based on their size, scientists conclude that the head and body of these monkeys were also very large. Meanwhile, the maximum brain volume of the same gorillas is approaching the minimum brain volume of modern humans, and the gigantopithecus had a larger brain than the gorilla. It turns out that the Gigantopithecus brains were almost the same as those of modern humans!

It is clear, of course, that the monkey itself cannot be called miniature, but nevertheless, size matters for the brain, therefore, probably, the gigantopithecus were quite smart. But, alas, they were too jealous of their menu, which included exclusively plant foods. Their huge chewing muscles and teeth took up so much space that their brains had "nowhere" to grow. As a result, gigantopithecus disappeared from the face of the Earth about 100 thousand years ago, giving way to less fastidious species. However, it is possible that not without the direct participation of our ancestors or Pithecanthropus.

Not a monkey, not yet a man

In the lineage of primates closer to us, intellectual forms also appeared more than once, and they advanced further than Oreopithecus and Gigantopithecus. For example, these were massive Australopithecines.

Despite the fact that they also preferred an exclusively vegetarian menu, their hands were free, and, moreover, they were much better adapted for making stone tools than our closer ancestors, who had already appeared in the same Africa next to them.


Discussions about whether Australopithecus made stone tools of labor continue to this day: in some sites of these highly developed primates, such tools are found, but not in others. There is no need to say that these tools were left by our ancestors, since there are no other remains, except for the bones of massive australopithecines, near such sites at all.

Probably, this species nevertheless produced stone tools, but this did not always happen and not everywhere. By the way, the same is true for modern chimpanzees. One thing is clear: such a complex process as the manufacture of stone tools has arisen on our planet independently several times.


Unlucky people-savages

The line of our ancestors - early Homo - also branched, and alternative "humanity" arose several times in it. The most famous of them are the Neanderthals of Europe, but there were others, for example, people from the island of Java. They lived in a tropical climate with no connection to the rest of the world. Therefore, their development went along its own amazing path: for example, it is believed that the Javanese had few stone tools, but wooden ones made from local bamboo were used in abundance. However, in the end, the Javanese also died out, and, apparently, without any external interference.

By the way, in anthropological history there are examples of intellectual regression. Such a nuisance happened, for example, with the "hobbits" of the island of Flores. About 800 thousand years ago, it seems to have been inhabited by quite normal Homo. But life on a paradise island, just like on the Island of Fools from the story "Dunno on the Moon", led to the fact that the brain of the hobbits began to rapidly decrease in volume until it was reduced to the brain of a chimpanzee. The most unexpected thing is that, despite this, the tools of the "hobbits" remained rather complicated until the very end.


Lucky Homo sapiens

In a word, modern man is not so much a unique creature as a lucky one. Volcanoes and glaciers covered Neanderthals, "hobbits" and Javanese relaxed on paradise islands.Massive hominids ate too many plants and too little meat - and all this time, human evolution has taken place in conditions of lucky coincidence …

However, the continuing decrease in the size of our brain for the past 25 thousand years makes anthropologists wary. There are fears that our future is not nearly as bright as we would like it to be.


"Why don't people fly like birds?"

In fact, encephalization - an increase in the size of the brain relative to the size of the body - is characteristic of many groups of animals, and not only for mammals, but also for birds, reptiles and even reptiles, for example, turtles. However, for each of these groups, certain circumstances impose restrictions on this process.

For example, there are many clever birds. Crows and some parrots are on the level of "intelligence" at the level of primates. But birds must fly, and it is difficult to do this with a large and heavy head - to facilitate flight, the ancestors of birds even had to sacrifice their teeth. In addition, birds require an exceptionally large cerebellum to coordinate their movements in flight, and there is simply no room for enlarging the forebrain in their tiny skulls.


There is fish - no mind

Some of the most intelligent creatures live in water. For example, cetaceans: for the inhabitants of the sea, there are practically no restrictions on mass. But they do not have hands - which means that there is no labor instrumental activity. And despite the fact that the "labor concept" has been criticized a lot over the past decades, it has not yet been finally "canceled". Well, if there is no incentive to complicate motor activity, there is no point in the development of the brain.

Everyone knows the intellectual abilities of dolphins, and most importantly, a very high level of their socialization. But despite all sorts of talk about "dolphin civilization", scientists are adamant: dolphins have no incentive to develop intelligence. You don't need a lot of intelligence to catch up with the fish, so dolphins remain dolphins to this day.

Predators and ungulates

The situation is similar in many mammals. Bears or raccoons are in many ways similar to primates - they are omnivorous, can climb trees, live in groups … But their sense of smell is too developed, which means that the olfactory lobes of the brain are also developed, which prevent the growth of other parts of the brain. In addition, their hand cannot be fully called grasping, because there are claws on the fingers.

Some, however, say that an intelligent creature can develop from American noose raccoons. However, noses have existed for 20 million years, and the evolution of their brains has not yet shown the miracles of rapid development. The primates, on the other hand, developed into humans during the same period.

The familiar herbivorousness and the need to chew a lot of food, have large jaws and teeth prevents ungulates from growing wiser. The same goes for rodents. Animals with many cubs and a short life expectancy simply have no time - first they need to survive and grow up, then quickly multiply. There is simply no time for such a luxury as intelligence in their short lives.


Gray mouse and world domination

Despite all this, theoretically, someday other intelligent species may appear on Earth. After all, if something happened once, then it can happen the second and twenty-fifth. Moreover, such a trend, as we now know, has been observed on our planet for a long time.

Moreover, according to some mysterious biological law, the most interesting and exotic forms most often arise from very primitive and initially little attractive creatures. Something small, grayish with a thin tail often achieves exceptional evolutionary results (however, we can often observe this among people as well).


This is how it was once with one of the common ancestors of all mammals - a tiny nondescript animal with the terrifying name of megazostrodon.This "shabby mouse" appeared in the days of the dinosaurs, but, unlike the scaly giants, it managed to survive the mass extinction - it just sat out in its hole, feeding on whatever it had to.

Therefore, among the modern potential candidates for the creation of civilization, oddly enough, some insectivores and rodents, such as shrews and rats, are most often called. So "humanity" may appear on our planet more than once. And it is quite possible that his appearance will be far from what we are used to.

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