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← Crows know familiar human voices

Functional Atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Functional Atheist

The brainiest non-mammalians--birds, cuttlefish, octopi--strike me as offering good clues for what a brainy extraterrestrial might be like. Rather than big-eyed little humanoids (E.T.; Close Encounters) or large and athletic humanoids (Avatar; Predator), my bet is that a resemblance to the serene countenance of a cuttlefish, or the hyper-alert face of the pictured crow, is more likely. That's assuming these hypothetical aliens have a face at all, of course--while radial symmetry is a viable option, it suggests to me a grazer or a filter feeder, which wouldn't likely gain much of an adaptive advantage in developing a big brain.

But then elephants are grazers, so a diet of low nutritive value certainly can sustain intelligent creatures with rich social lives. And baleen whales are filter feeders, and they are intelligent and touchingly social creatures, too.

Sat, 12 May 2012 05:00:57 UTC | #941130