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Old 05-16-2018, 01:00 AM   #301
mr beer
 
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I forgot to add in that because of a weird convergent evolution (manipulated by a precursor species for their own reasons) we and they are genetically the same species. I throw in the precursors as a fig leaf of reality. Being half asleep when I wrote the piece causes many flaws.
I know very little about biology but I believe that convergent evolution creates similar forms in different species but they remain as genetically dissimilar as their respective common ancestors.

Now genetic manipulation might overcome that, but the convergent evolution and the genetic meddling are separate unrelated processes. I think.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:18 AM   #302
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I know very little about biology but I believe that convergent evolution creates similar forms in different species but they remain as genetically dissimilar as their respective common ancestors.

Now genetic manipulation might overcome that, but the convergent evolution and the genetic meddling are separate unrelated processes. I think.
True enough, yet if if you are half-asleep, easily confused.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:10 AM   #303
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Homo sapiens have been around for 500,000 years, so there is plenty of opportunity for bored aliens to steal Homo sapiens pets and abandon them when their civilization collapses (that is the premise of Traveller, after all). You could have convergent evolution keep two different populations of Homo sapiens from diverging into different species, though Homo sapiens seems to be a remarkably stable species (Australian Aborigines were separated from the rest of humanity for 60,000 years and experienced very little divergence from the rest of humanity). At the apparent rate of divergence, it might take 100,000 years of isolation to make a separate Homo sapiens subspecies and 500,000 years of isolation to make a separate Homo species.
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Old 05-16-2018, 05:13 AM   #304
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Our species is no where near as old as 500k. That's in the period of other hominids like Homo heidelbergensis, neanderthalensis, denisovan, etc. We're around 200-70k old.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:49 AM   #305
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Homo sapiens is the species. Neanderthal, denisovan, etc. interbred with Homo sapiens sapiens and produced fertile offspring, so they were just different subspecies of Homo sapiens, not different species of Homo. Remember, subspecies can interbreed and produce fertile young, species cannot interbreed and produce fertile young.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:01 PM   #306
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No, unless you're saying that lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards are all the same species. They can produce fertile offspring.
Wolves, dogs, and coyotes can interbreed.
African wild cats, European wild cats, domestic house cats, servals, etc. can interbreed too.

Also human interbreeding with neanderthals happened maybe once or only a few times 100+ years ago. And also only between neanderthal males and human females.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:24 PM   #307
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What you are noting is what biologists call the species problem. In many cases, our classification of different species is a historical artifact rather than a biological fact. Coyotes, dogs, and wolves were historically considered different species, but their ability to hybridize shows that they are probably different subspecies of the same species. The same applies to different felines that are capable of producing fertile young, their classifications are historical artifacts rather than biological facts. Of course, this is a very complex issue with thousands of scientific articles supporting and refuting each detail since Darwin first published the Origin of the Species, so it will likely take another century or two before we have a good definition of species (it may end up that the genus is more important than the species).
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:30 PM   #308
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What you are noting is what biologists call the species problem. In many cases, our classification of different species is a historical artifact rather than a biological fact. Coyotes, dogs, and wolves were historically considered different species, but their ability to hybridize shows that they are probably different subspecies of the same species. The same applies to different felines that are capable of producing fertile young, their classifications are historical artifacts rather than biological facts. Of course, this is a very complex issue with thousands of scientific articles supporting and refuting each detail since Darwin first published the Origin of the Species, so it will likely take another century or two before we have a good definition of species (it may end up that the genus is more important than the species).
If they are very unlikely to interbreed in the wild or there are problems with the offspring reproducing then that's good enough to make them distinct species. That doesn't apply to canines but does apply to big cats. That the mitochrondrial DNA indicates that the surviving bloodlines were all the offspring of neanderthal fathers and modern human mothers indicates there was in some kind of reproductive barrier.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:56 PM   #309
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If they are very unlikely to interbreed in the wild or there are problems with the offspring reproducing then that's good enough to make them distinct species. That doesn't apply to canines but does apply to big cats. That the mitochrondrial DNA indicates that the surviving bloodlines were all the offspring of neanderthal fathers and modern human mothers indicates there was in some kind of reproductive barrier.
Mitochondrial DNA passes from mother to child, not father to child, so it would only take a surviving son in the right place to break the mitochondrial DNA chain, so we cannot know that only male neanderthal reproduced with female sapiens, we just know that none of the neanderthal mitochondrial DNA survived the 30,000 years since the last exchange. There are no surviving neanderthal Y-chromosomes as well, so it is just as valid to say that all of the mating were between female neanderthals and male sapiens because male neanderthals would pass their Y-chromosomes to their sons, but it only takes a surviving daughter in the right place to break the y-chromosome chain. In fact, that is probably more likely, considering that male sapiens will screw anything and neanderthal women were more robust than sapiens women.

At last count, 5% of European, North African, and West Asian DNA was neanderthal (around 1% in other Asian populations). Unless people with neanderthal DNA have a massive survival advantage, that would mean that ten percent of the sapiens children born 30,000 years ago were born to the mating of neanderthal and sapiens (five percent of the total human DNA therefore being neanderthal). If you have a smaller number of people interbreeding, you get a smaller percentage of DNA surviving through the centuries.

Humans possess around 20,000 protein coding genes and only 800 of them differentiate us from the bonobos. A single interbreeding event 30,000 years ago would have been genetically washed out within ten generations, as each mating with someone of a pure sapiens would have halved the number of hybrid genetic expressions passed to the next generation. In order to retain neanderthal DNA, you would have required enough people interbreeding before 30,000 years ago to make sure that 30,000 years of mixing did not remove the neanderthal DNA from the mixture.
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Old 05-18-2018, 07:33 AM   #310
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Candyland


An interesting sci fi setting proposed in an older GURPS book (3rd E) but never followed up on was the idea of a nanotech revolution jumping society several tech levels quickly. Picture in 2020 a tech-wiz invents a fairly practical nanotechnology system. In the GURPS book I'm rifting off, this means all sorts of things that couldn't be done, because of material limits or costs, become doable. All sorts of ways of analyzing matter become practical and cheaper. Thus all kinds of barriers to technological progress dissolve. I get the reasoning, I think it isn't bad, I feel it is overoptimistic. Still, it makes a good setting idea.

Picture the Earth of 2030 with roughly the same technology as Transhuman Space in 2100. I use the THS setting as a useful shorthand rather than as a realistic result.

I add to the setting the idea that full rejuvenation of human beings is possible. Certain people have a genetic quirk (or in GURPS terms a PERK) that allows cheap rejuvenation. Certain, individuals, in exchange for their Social Security pension being delayed for some decades, get free rejuvenation through Medicare/Medicaid (which after 2024 covers all Americans). Basically, even if, like me, you'll be seventy in 2030, you can play a young and healthy you.

The main reason I see this as a good adventure setting is that it's mainly present day Earth in turmoil and made exotic. Nanotechnology, as conceived in this setting, makes technology both far more widespread but choppier. Infrastructure works differently in this world. Thus the power differences between developed and developing nations aren't the same, the differences are still there they simply work differently. National leaders don't yet know the limits. Resource economies are shifted too. High efficiency solar cells and supercapacitor/battery combos, that take a vast change in seconds, are both cheap to make. Which means it is easy to gather the energy to make petroleum and petroleum is far less needed than before. The Middle East is now largely unimportant.

Run over the Earth's politics and ask yourself what happens if energy becomes cheap and abundant and educating your people is the real resource? Russia has a disastrous fade out. China's divide between the coastal cities and the rural areas magnifies. In the USA the Northeast, the West Coast, and the Rust Belt, all become more important. The Southeast and the Rocky Moutain west fade in importance. New England has a new golden age. Scotland becomes dominant over England.

Basically, it is both alien and familiar. All kinds of good things are happening, but the power relationships are changing unpredictably, which makes war highly likely. In other words, a good time for adventure.
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Last edited by Astromancer; 05-19-2018 at 07:58 AM.
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