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ZetaTalk: Intelligent Insects
Note: written Dec 15, 1996
Life evolves in a similar manner regardless of the predominant atomic elements on any given world. Carbon based or silicon based, the process of DNA evolution
is strikingly similar. Add to that the factor of seeding potential life bearing planets and the similarities between life that develops on one world and life that develops
on another may be almost identical. However, the environment on a given planet may be harsh to one type of life form and ideal for another.
- The impact of the environment is most commonly seen in the prevalence of water planets, where no dry land exists, failing to evolve land dwelling creatures
at all. Here the life form that emerges as the intelligent species is most often a type of octopus, as their tentacles allow manipulation of the environment and
intelligence eventually develops due to that capacity.
- The second most common impact of the environment occurs where mammals fail to prosper because reptiles prospered so well. This occurs on warm
planets where a rapid rotation of the planet toasts the environment evenly and allows cold-blooded reptiles to be constantly active. The reptiles simply eat
the emerging mammals, being more highly evolved and there first, and thus the mammal life form is less likely to evolve.
- Planets where a mammal life form emerges and evolves to a degree that allows the mammal to be a candidate for selection as the intelligent species to be
genetically engineered on the planet routinely have an environment that is harsh in some way to reptiles. Your Earth is such a planet, with a slow rotation that
creates cold nights, winters, and poles such that cold-blooded reptiles are sluggish and slow.
- Where insects develop as the dominant intelligent species the planet has land but does not have a generous food supply in its waters or as vegetation on the
land. Insects eat anything, in tiny bites, and can live on dung, rotting tissue, crumbs, and the slime that may cover rocks along the edge of water pools. As
with the dominance of reptiles, the life form that gets a head start and does not experience frequent set-backs can take advantage of what follows.
In the case of planets where insects emerge as predominant, some insect forms begin to eat other insects, and thus can grow larger. Humans, used to insect forms
that are tiny, are seeing what occurs when all insect forms are consumed by others. On Earth, insects are consumed not only by other insects but also are the
favorite food of birds, reptiles, and rodents. For any insect to evolve as a large specimen on Earth would require a protected environment where none of the other
Earth creatures could discover it. This is simply not the case on your Earth, but is the case on those rare worlds where insects evolve as the predominant, and
eventually the intelligent, species.
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