A leading biologist has claimed “we are not alone”, arguing that extra-terrestrials resembling humans must have evolved on other planets.
Evolutionary biologist Simon Conway Morris says that evidence that different species will independently develop similar features means that life similar to that on Earth would also develop on other, equivalent planets.
This theory, known as convergence, suggests that evolution is far from random but in fact a predictable process which follows a rigid set of rules.
It means that popular depictions of aliens with an appearance similar to humans — such as the character in the hit 1980s film ET — may not be far from the truth.
Conway Morris said that, given the growing number of Earth-like planets now discovered by astronomers, it is surprising that we have not yet discovered aliens which look and sound like us.
He added: “I would argue that in any habitable zone that doesn’t boil or freeze, intelligent life is going to emerge, because intelligence is convergent.
“One can say with reasonable confidence that the likelihood of something analogous to a human evolving is really pretty high.
“And, given the number of potential planets we now have good reason to think exist, even if the dice only come up the right way every one in 100 throws, that still leads to a very large number of intelligences scattered around, that are likely to be similar to us.”
Conway Morris, a fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, puts forward the argument in his new book The Runes Of Evolution.
He argues that convergence is not just common, but everywhere, and it has governed every aspect of life’s development on Earth.
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