Is human-level intelligence only possible in land-based mammals?
February 18, 2011 10:02 AM Subscribe
Given enough time and the right circumstances, would it be possible for non-land-based mammals to develop human levels of intelligence? What about non-mammals, land-based or otherwise?
posted by Afroblanco to science & nature (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The question here is twofold : is human-level intelligence necessarily a mammalian trait? And if so, is it specific to land mammals?
Assume here an "alternate earth" where all the necessary building blocks of life are there, but things are a bit ... different. Maybe there's no land above sea level. Or maybe it's mostly swamp. Or perhaps the atmosphere is a bit different. Or maybe the planet is the size of Jupiter and doesn't have a moon. Whatever. Could a different set of ecological/planetary conditions (over a sufficient span of time) lead to intelligent life that's vastly different from homo sapiens?
As for my definition of human-level intelligence : it wouldn't necessarily have to result in New York City and Anna Karenina (which would be difficult to create without land or trees), but the mental ability to create such things.