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Looked at from the point of view of the evolutionary tree it appears that humans are an aberration. ie a departure from the norm 1. The rest of the tree - natural world - is quite self contained and self sufficient without the existence of humans. 2. If you describe humans as 'super-primates' there are no other branches of the tree which have produced a 'super bird', super fish' or 'super insect'  with self consciousness and an ability to use tools and weapons to destroy every other branch of that tree (although ' super bug ' comes to mind - lurking somewhere in the DNA of some life-form and ready to annihlate all of us). 3. We're the only life -form which destroys and pollutes its own habitat . I might be wrong on that last one so let me know . . . . .

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40 minutes ago, jonnobody said:

 If you describe humans as 'super-primates' there are no other branches of the tree which have produced a 'super bird', super fish' or 'super insect'  with self consciousness and an ability to use tools and weapons to destroy every other branch of that tree (although ' super bug ' comes to mind - lurking somewhere in the DNA of some life-form and ready to annihlate all of us).

Have you studied the mechanisms involved? When you use the word "super", aren't you referring to high intelligence? 

Birds give up every milligram they can afford in order to fly. Everything that goes into making a big enough brain for super intelligence is going to add weight. Birds can't even afford the extra muscles for SWALLOWING, so they've adapted a method of picking water up in their mouths and then moving their heads up quickly to let gravity force it down their throats. 

Same deal with the other creatures, if they start evolving bigger brains they lose much of what makes them a fish or a bug. Humans have the brains but we lack a lot of other abilities fish and bugs have. We started out as fish like all vertebrates, but eventually intelligence was selected for and we added to that with our cooperative minds, our opposable thumbs, our tool-use, and our detailed communication. We do some detrimental things to our environment (and no, we aren't alone in that), but we're also the only creatures who have the capability of leaving the planet. No other species has access to the energy to overcome planetary gravity.

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2 hours ago, Phi for All said:

Have you studied the mechanisms involved? When you use the word "super", aren't you referring to high intelligence? 

Birds give up every milligram they can afford in order to fly. Everything that goes into making a big enough brain for super intelligence is going to add weight. Birds can't even afford the extra muscles for SWALLOWING, so they've adapted a method of picking water up in their mouths and then moving their heads up quickly to let gravity force it down their throats. 

Same deal with the other creatures, if they start evolving bigger brains they lose much of what makes them a fish or a bug. Humans have the brains but we lack a lot of other abilities fish and bugs have. We started out as fish like all vertebrates, but eventually intelligence was selected for and we added to that with our cooperative minds, our opposable thumbs, our tool-use, and our detailed communication. We do some detrimental things to our environment (and no, we aren't alone in that), but we're also the only creatures who have the capability of leaving the planet. No other species has access to the energy to overcome planetary gravity.

 

I'm going to be the devil's advocate here, some birds, quite possibly a great many, are very intelligent, some actually talk, others even use tools. Fish called mormyrids have a bigger brain to body mass than humans and they use electrical fields as a form of echolocation and at least appear to be quite intelligent. I think that the human body plan contributed at least much as large brains to our exceptional use of tools. Not sure if any arthropods show much in the way of intelligence but certain spiders can be shown to plan ahead and change their plans in mid execution if the prey they are trying to catch change the circumstances.   This is especially impressive considering they can lose sight of their prey, in this case other spiders, yet they remember the plan with almost no real brain... 

I think that soon what constitutes intelligence will be seen as human centric as a IQ test that caters to only a certain group. 

We humans are definitely not the only species can have a negative impact on the environment but we seem to be the only one who knows it and still does it anyway... 

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I believe you made two threads named the same title: "Evolution". It may be a mistake, but it's just a simple thing that bothered me.

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On 02/12/2017 at 10:25 PM, jonnobody said:

Looked at from the point of view of the evolutionary tree it appears that humans are an aberration. ie a departure from the norm 1.

I'm told that when naked mole rats sit around shooting the breeze, they discuss how they are a clear aberration. Apparently domestic cats hold much the same viewpoint. Not to mention African Greys. It seems its a tendency of any reflective species to view itself as unique and special. :)

 

On 02/12/2017 at 10:25 PM, jonnobody said:

1. The rest of the tree - natural world - is quite self contained and self sufficient without the existence of humans.

You can probably eliminate any single species from the planet and the biosphere will continue pretty much as it was apart from some small, local readjustments. So you can replace the word "humans" in your statement with the name of any species .

On 02/12/2017 at 10:25 PM, jonnobody said:

2. If you describe humans as 'super-primates' there are no other branches of the tree which have produced a 'super bird', super fish' or 'super insect'  with self consciousness and an ability to use tools and weapons to destroy every other branch of that tree (although ' super bug ' comes to mind - lurking somewhere in the DNA of some life-form and ready to annihlate all of us).

If you don't feel a Great White is not a super-fish would you like to take one on in unarmed combat. I suggest it won't be long before you are truly unarmed. Moontanman has mentioned examples of intelligence and tool use, etc. There are plenty of examples of animals that are faster than us, or anything else,have better vision than us, or anything else, can endure lower temperatures than us, or anything else. And so on. If we insist on comparisons that focus on our strengths and ignore our weaknesses it is difficult to not to consider us super, but that seems a biased approach.

 

On 02/12/2017 at 10:25 PM, jonnobody said:

3. We're the only life -form which destroys and pollutes its own habitat . I might be wrong on that last one so let me know . . . . .

Overgrazing is common. Predators sometimes kill too many of their prey. The Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed by one of its inhabitants. There are, I think, numerous examples of this. We are better at it than most, but I don't think most of us want to boast about that.

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On 2/15/2018 at 3:53 PM, Bender said:

Chimps have a better memory than humans, so clearly they are the super-primates. 

Don't forget how well they performed as stock brokers

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14 minutes ago, CharonY said:

Don't forget how well they performed as stock brokers

Chimpanzees! You mean those dirty, smelly, violent, deceptive, confrontational animals were outperformed by a chimpanzee!

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On 12/3/2017 at 6:25 AM, jonnobody said:

3. We're the only life -form which destroys and pollutes its own habitat . I might be wrong on that last one so let me know . . . . .

Take lemmings as an example with their regular spikes and drops in population. Whenever conditions allow, lemmings start to breed at extreme rates and quickly overwhelm ecosystem's ability to support so many of them, which then results in starvation and death of majority of the population only for that to repeat a few years later. Thankfully, humans have developed technologies, which allow us not to die off in spectacular fashion every few years.

 

On 12/3/2017 at 6:25 AM, jonnobody said:

1. The rest of the tree - natural world - is quite self contained and self sufficient without the existence of humans.

That's doubtful. If all animals were self-sufficient and always living in perfect harmony  with their habitat, species wouldn't tend to go extinct as often as they do based on geological record.

 

On 12/3/2017 at 6:25 AM, jonnobody said:

2. If you describe humans as 'super-primates' there are no other branches of the tree which have produced a 'super bird', super fish' or 'super insect'  with self consciousness and an ability to use tools and weapons to destroy every other branch of that tree (although ' super bug ' comes to mind - lurking somewhere in the DNA of some life-form and ready to annihlate all of us).

Well, then don't describe humans as super-primates. I see no reason why you would do so. Primates and humans are not just separate species, they are even in separate genera.

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11 hours ago, pavelcherepan said:

Take lemmings as an example with their regular spikes and drops in population. Whenever conditions allow, lemmings start to breed at extreme rates and quickly overwhelm ecosystem's ability to support so many of them, which then results in starvation and death of majority of the population only for that to repeat a few years later. Thankfully, humans have developed technologies, which allow us not to die off in spectacular fashion every few years.

The "die off" is a misconception, fluctuating predator populations linked to fluctuating lemming populations not mass starvation.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

 

11 hours ago, pavelcherepan said:

 

That's doubtful. If all animals were self-sufficient and always living in perfect harmony  with their habitat, species wouldn't tend to go extinct as often as they do based on geological record.

This is also not true, natural disasters often bring about extinction perhaps most famous of these is the demise of the dinosaurs but many others tied to different events bear this out. 

11 hours ago, pavelcherepan said:

 

Well, then don't describe humans as super-primates. I see no reason why you would do so. Primates and humans are not just separate species, they are even in separate genera.

Again not true

The cladogram below shows one possible classification sequence of the living primates,[16][17] with groups that use common (traditional) names are shown on the right.

Primatomorpha
Quote

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primate

 

 Dermoptera Cynocephalus volans Brehm1883 (white background).jpg

 
 Primates 
 Haplorhini 
 Simiiformes 
 Catarrhini 
 Hominoidea 
 Hominidae 
 Homininae 
 Hominini 
 

 humans (genus Homo) Bechuana of Distinction-1841 (white background).jpg 

 
 

 chimpanzees (genus Pan)PanTroglodytesSmit (white background).jpg 

 
 
 Gorillini 
 

 gorillas (genus Gorilla) Gorila de llanura occidental. Gorilla gorilla - Blanca Martí de Ahumada (white background).jpg 

 
 
 
 

 orangutans (subfamily Ponginae) Simia satyrus - 1837 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - White Background.jpg 

 
 
 

 gibbons (family Hylobatidae) Le gibbon (white background).jpg 

 
 
 

 Old World monkeys (superfamily Cercopithecoidea) Cynocephalus doguera - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - (white background).tiff 

 
 
 

 New World monkeys (parvorder Platyrrhini) Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur, mit Beschreibungen (Plate 8) (white background).jpg 

 
 
 Tarsiiformes 
 

 tarsiers (superfamily Tarsioidea) Säugethiere vom Celebes- und Philippinen-Archipel (Taf. III) (white background) (1).jpg 

 
 
 
 Strepsirrhini 
Lemuriformes[a] 
 

 lemurs (superfamily Lemuroidea) FMIB 46849 Primates Maki Moccoe Lemur catta (white background).jpeg 

 
 

 lorises and allies (superfamily Lorisoidea) Nycticebus (white background).jpg 

 
 
 
 
 
prosimians
monkeys
great apes
humans
lesser apes

All groups with scientific names are monophyletic (that is, they are clades), and the sequence of scientific classification reflects the evolutionary history of the related lineages. Groups that are traditionally named are shown on the right; they form an "ascending series" (per Clark, see above), and several groups are paraphyletic:

  • "prosimians" contain two monophyletic groups (the suborder Strepsirrhini, or lemurs, lorises and allies, as well as the tarsiers of the suborder Haplorhini); it is a paraphyletic grouping because it excludes the Simiiformes, which also are descendants of the common ancestor Primates.
  • "monkeys" comprise two monophyletic groups, New World monkeys and Old World monkeys, but is paraphyletic because it excludes hominoids, superfamily Hominoidea, also descendants of the common ancestor Simiiformes.
  • "apes" as a whole, and the "great apes" in particular, are paraphyletic because they exclude humans.

Thus, the members of the two sets of groups, and hence names, do not match, which causes problems in relating scientific names to common (usually traditional) names. Consider the superfamily Hominoidea: In terms of the common names on the right, this group consists of apes and humans and there is no single common name for all the members of the group. One remedy is to create a new common name, in this case "hominoids". Another possibility is to expand the use of one of the traditional names. For example, in his 2005 book, the vertebrate palaeontologist Benton wrote, "The apes, Hominoidea, today include the gibbons and orang-utan ... the gorilla and chimpanzee ... and humans";[18] thereby Benton was using "apes" to mean "hominoids". In that case, the group heretofore called "apes" must now be identified as the "non-human apes".

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

Again not true

The cladogram below shows one possible classification sequence of the living primates,[16][17] with groups that use common (traditional) names are shown on the right.

That appears to confirm that humans are a different genus than other primates. So I'm not sure what "not true" refers to.

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1 minute ago, Strange said:

That appears to confirm that humans are a different genus than other primates. So I'm not sure what "not true" refers to.

Nonetheless they are still primates, primate is not a genus...  

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42 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

Nonetheless they are still primates, primate is not a genus...  

Indeed. The above distinction does not make a lot of sense. 

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On 12/2/2017 at 2:25 PM, jonnobody said:

Looked at from the point of view of the evolutionary tree it appears that humans are an aberration. ie a departure from the norm

Isn't that the point of evolution? Any organism that isn't a single-celled microorganism is an abberation from the tree of life?

 

Also why is this in religion?

Edited by NimrodTheGoat

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32 minutes ago, NimrodTheGoat said:

Isn't that the point of evolution? Any organism that isn't a single-celled microorganism is an abberation from the tree of life?

Not sure what that means. What do you consider an aberration in the tree of life? Branches? If so, why are microorganisms exempt?

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1 hour ago, NimrodTheGoat said:

 Also why is this in religion?

!

Moderator Note

Indeed. Moved.

 

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9 hours ago, Moontanman said:

This is also not true, natural disasters often bring about extinction perhaps most famous of these is the demise of the dinosaurs but many others tied to different events bear this out. 

No. What you are talking about are great mass extinctions, but even without those species die off all the time. It's just that during mass extinctions it's much more obvious. Mammal species, for instance, exist only for about 1 million years on average before going extinct. It's just a normal part of evolution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_extinction_rate

9 hours ago, Moontanman said:

Again not true

The cladogram below shows one possible classification sequence of the living primates,[16][17] with groups that use common (traditional) names are shown on the right.

OK, I might not have worded my original comment correctly in this regard.

 

9 hours ago, Moontanman said:

The "die off" is a misconception, fluctuating predator populations linked to fluctuating lemming populations not mass starvation.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

Or other way around - predator populations linked to lemming population cycles. For example, this study tends to disagree with you: 

Quote

Although lots of lemmings fall prey to owls, arctic foxes and suchlike, this isn't what makes their numbers oscillate. Rather, this happens, say the researchers, because lemmings 'prey' upon moss.

Or extensive grazing results in inhibition of some proteins , or amount of snow cover ,  or changes in reproduction rates. In fact, it's still a controversial topic, in large part due to the lack of large-scale controlled experiments. And it's most likely not due to one single cause, but to combination thereof.

 

P.S. By the way, Wiki article that you linked doesn't say what you say it does. Instead:

Quote

The Norway lemming and brown lemming are two of the few vertebrates which reproduce so quickly that their population fluctuations are chaotic,[1][2] rather than following linear growth to a carrying capacity or regular oscillations. It is not known why lemming populations fluctuate with such great variance roughly every four years, before numbers drop to near extinction.

 

Edited by pavelcherepan

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22 hours ago, CharonY said:

Not sure what that means. What do you consider an aberration in the tree of life? Branches? If so, why are microorganisms exempt?

Well, OP said, "evolutionary tree it appears that humans are an aberration. ie a departure from the norm."  I can't see how humans are an abberration looking at the evolutionary tree ( like the image  Moontanman posted above) because this would mean that chimpanzees are an aberration as well because it would fulfill OPs first point being, "The rest of the tree - natural world - is quite self contained and self sufficient without the existence of humans (or chimpanzees in this example)" . And just like Area54 said, you can replace the word humans with any other species. So according to OP, would this mean that anything that has evolved from  the "norm" is an aberration? I would guess that the norm is bacteria because they were the first things here.  arguably.

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I agree with the observation that there are no aberrations. However, extant bacteria are no different from other current (extant) species.

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41 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I agree with the observation that there are no aberrations. However, extant bacteria are no different from other current (extant) species.

I think this point merits repetition and expansion, NimrodTheGoat. I have the impression that you perceive bacteria as all being much of a muchness. After all, they are only single celled and merely prokaryotes at that. In fact the bacteria, by one current system of nomenclature, represent two of the six biological Kingdoms (Plants, Fungi, Animals, Protists Archaea and Bacteria.) They exist in far wider range of environments than any of the others and consequently their diversity is greater. It is difficult, therefore to see how they represent, in toto, the norm. I suggest the norm, if is existed, was LUCA, the Last Common Ancestor of all life. Everything currently extant and everything that has existed since then is an aberration, in the terms of this thread.

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I'm a bit late in joining this conversation but I do enjoy talking about Evolution. Through my education, this is how i've come to understand human evolution to come about for our higher intelligence. Keep in mind that I do not have a degree and I've only done research on my own through textbooks, online, etc.

I'll give you the gimme everyone desires before reading a long post. The key to our intelligence was probably the following: larger brain case, hands, social-by-nature, losing fur/excess hair, change of diet to omnivore. 

Sometime in our evolution, our DNA mutated that gave us a weaker bite. There was a powerful muscle that wrapped around the bottom of the jaw that stretched over our head and that strong muscle gave us a powerful bite but it also restricted our brain case to be smaller. When the mutation happened our jaw became weaker and the braincase expanded allowing our brain to grow. 

We have hands to grip things and with our expanded brain, we learned to use/create our own tools to use on a daily basis. We aren't the only animals to do this however, many animals use tools on a regular basis. Crows, dolphins, monkeys, otters, etc. Tool use isn't special to humans but the complex usage of tools is ie. cars to travel, heavy machinery, etc. We will get to that shortly.

We are social creatures. This isn't a rare thing at all. Ants, bees, dolphins, whales, wolves, chimps, et cetera are all social. However, it is the culmination of our evolution that brought us about. We are social creatures which allowed us to share our discoveries. Word of mouth helped our societies grow by teaching each other. When we'd interact with another community be it peacefully or through war we'd often steal their ideas as well. We can see this all throughout history and I don't feel the need to elaborate further.

Something made us climb out of the trees at one point and begin hunting. Lack of food more than likely drew us out of the trees and while we ate insects we eventually evolved to be able to run long distances and hunt. Our ability to run long distances only happened because we lost our fur. If we didn't lose our fur we would overheat and be unable to cover the vast distances we are capable of. No other animal is capable of the long distance humans are able to run so while most animals are faster than us, we can outrun them in distance so we just chase our prey.

Our ability to run that distance and hunt allowed us an excess of calories that then went to our brain. Our ability to outsmart other animals and even other humans helped us to capture/kill/progress, etc. Competition went a long way in humans evolving considering we can view war as a very old thing amongst humans. The first recorded war was 2700BCE but we can safely assume that since human stupidity continues on today that the gene to murder each other over power/land/etc. has been with us for longer than that. At least according to what I have read in evolutionary biopsychology. We hunted, trapped, and ate animals which gave us plenty of calories. We learned how to do it better and better through communication with each other and the sharing of knowledge. As our brains continued to develop and become enriched with the excess calories the intelligent/creative became the primarily selected mate as smarter mates were able to bring home more food, build a better house, etc. These lead to communities and farming and so on.

Back to our hands, we eventually learned to communicate through writing which allowed us to record information and knowledge to pass on to future generations which started around 3000-3500BCE according to a quick wiki search. Hands have let us evolve our intelligence and be able to spread ideas to create more ideas which lead to the device you're reading this on. The tools we have developed is because we began to write. When a civilization is wiped out their knowledge would be lost otherwise. Anything from plagues to war could have done this. Through writing we have managed to create this thing we call science. A study of our world. We honestly aren't that special. Animal behavior is nearly the same as ours. Animals have justice systems, a sense of fairness, morality, love, grief, fears, etc. The only intelligent difference I see is our ability to have a deep and meaningful conversation outside of survival. We're only able to do these things because we are apex predators who have dominated the earth with our intellectual abilities to farm and hunt. We really aren't so different other than that. That's not such a big difference and I don't see how people can't make the connection that we've gotten here through evolution.

 

To address the other questions: many animals over-hunt and over-breed destroying their own habitat but nature has a way to establish equilibrium when the food source is gone. Humans only pollute because we have the ability to make complex tools and I've already discussed the why above. Many animals depend on humans for survival because we have an abundance of food. Mainly pests, but of course pests can always find another food source but since humans are everywhere we are definitely in the ecosystem and play a large factor on animals and their survival. 

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