Was Star Trek Right? Is the Universe Populated by Humanoids?

There has long been a joke that an alien in Star Trek is simply a humanoid with a non-terrestrial skin color and weird bumps of their noses and foreheads (“prosthetic foreheads on their real heads” to quote They Might Be Giants). But, according to Simon Conway Morris, an evolutionary palaeobiologist at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, this may be more on the mark than you might think.

The core of Morris’ belief comes from the theory of convergent evolution, which claims that, as Science Focus put it, “random effects eventually average out so that evolution converges, tending to produce similar organisms in any given environment.” The magazine used the examples of flight, which “has evolved independently on Earth at least four times — in birds, bats, insects and pterosaurs.”

In short, convergent evolution theory posits that evolution itself is a law of nature — and, as a logical endpoint, it’s likely that evolution would operate the same way on different planets as it does here on Earth. In other words, it’s theoretically possible that the blue and green alien humanoids you see on “Star Trek” could be, well, actually out there.

Read the rest here.


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