Are Humanoids Inevitable?
Biologists debate whether Star Trek aliens are realistic.
Are we alone in the universe? Humans have entertained this question for centuries.
Biologists have clear evidence that life evolved on Earth, but they have no evidence yet to say that life evolved elsewhere. With a recent explosion in the discovery of exoplanets and the discovery in interstellar space of complex molecules required for biochemistry, astronomers are faced with the great possibility that life is, indeed, out there.
But what will that life look like? Granted that Earth is not special and that life is not rare, the question remains whether or not that life will be Earth-like, even human-like. Here enters the controversy. Dr. Stephen Freeland, an astrobiologist from the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, will argue that convergent evolution runs rampant on Earth, thus we should expect it to do the same out in the cosmos, and humanoid aliens are not too far-fetched. Dr. Kevin Omland, an evolutionary biologist from the Department of Biological Sciences, will argue that evolution acts in a more unpredictable way than this anthropocentric view and that humanity is just one of an infinitude of outcomes; thus, he would be very surprised to see another humanoid species out there.
Assuming life evolved independently on other planets and based on your best scientific understanding, what would you speculate that life to look like? Do other life-bearing planets (LBPs) contain humanoid species?
Choose the answer that most closely aligns with your view.