Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kingdom

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Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kingdom

Postby MHD » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:15 am UTC

Couldn't even fit a period in that title, huh.

So a few days ago I had this pretty rad idea; screw primates, marsupials are the new overlords. (not in those exact words)
Then I began thinking: Kangaroos are pretty much apex herbivores, relatively few natural predators, especially the large ones. They are bipedal and therefore have have free hands, thus potential for tool use.

In this world I imagine China being some sort of 'cultural capital of the world' the same way Europe is, while the actual Europe is some sort of weird oriental continent. Africa is still a go-to place for colonization, but home to something akin to Aboriginals, and so on.

The 'Humans' are fur-less humanoids with slightly ditigrade feet, better at running (jumping, really) and rock climbing, worse at swimming and tree climbing than us. Tails are also a feature of their anatomy, meaning they have excellent balance, etc.
Now the funny bit is the sexual dimorphism, namely that when two males go 'check the rack on her' they are looking at the pouch! That females leaving the pouch opening uncovered is considered indecent and so on.

World building is my favourite thing.

I actually don't have a point of discussion, but I might return here and flesh out this idea, feel free to steal it ^^

Thoughts? Comments?
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Jplus » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:58 pm UTC

MHD wrote:Thoughts? Comments?

Well. At first sight I don't find the idea of sapient kangaroos very convincing. But please write a book and I'll happily buy it.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby idobox » Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:18 pm UTC

Kangaroos are cute, and kinda anthropomorphic, but what kind of selection pressure would justify a big brain in herbivores?

Social octopuses could overthrow us in a few hundreds generation :P
Some birds are also extremely intelligent, like crows. I'm picturing a flock of large crows with slingshots hunting prey birds and land animals.
Social insects are also a frequent favorite. Imagine ant-built nuclear power plants and airships :D
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Rowadanr » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:18 pm UTC

idobox wrote:crows with slingshots

You have added a wonderful and terrifying concept to my mental pool, thank you. I think.

Meanwhile: Another fun idea (along the lines of the ants/termites one) for this would be extreme eusociality in big flocks of brainy birds. Each member of a big flock using their-left-over-for-abstraction brain-time to think one or two simple, unconscious algorithms, and the whole swarm together making a Society of mind. They'd need some pretty complex signaling between birds to convey that sort of information, though, and realistically a big enough swarm would be huge.
Having raised a lot of confused jackdaws until they fledged and seeing the way the entire clattering (that is apparently the collective noun), the idea of big parliaments of corvids achieving a scary amount of collective thinking talent feels like less of a stretch than it is.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:32 pm UTC

The thing that I think is neat about eusocial organism intelligence is the idea of it being an emergent behavior. So, a single ant dropped in a room with a bunch of building blocks may start randomly stacking them, and two ants may start making some odd patterns here and there, but if you throw five hundred thousand ants into a radioshack, kapow, you get a fully functional particle accelerator staffed by a conglomerate mess of controller ants.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:38 am UTC

Well, you'd need some capacity for abstraction somewhere in that mix, and some very complex hierarchy (ants that know that they are nodes) to get to a particle accelerator. = ) It's a neat idea, but harder to explain by natural selection.

idobox wrote:Kangaroos are cute, and kinda anthropomorphic, but what kind of selection pressure would justify a big brain in herbivores?

Well, I might be oversimplifying, but my understanding is that the birds you mentioned use communication to identify and assess threats as a group, and primate intelligence might have had more to do with communication to cooperate against prey and share the kill and so on, but the most recent defining steps in hominid intelligence came largely from advantages within the social group. Keep them small enough (start with a wallaby?) and they can select for intelligence in competition against their predators until a tipping point where the competition becomes internal.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby idobox » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:35 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Well, you'd need some capacity for abstraction somewhere in that mix, and some very complex hierarchy (ants that know that they are nodes) to get to a particle accelerator.

Ants today do not build particle accelerators, but we're talking of smarter ones. The simple mechanics that create swarm intelligence are usually fixed instincts, but nothing forbids super ants to have a bunch of "mental processes" that can be activated/deactivated to get different group behaviours.

Copper Bezel wrote:Well, I might be oversimplifying, but my understanding is that the birds you mentioned use communication to identify and assess threats as a group, and primate intelligence might have had more to do with communication to cooperate against prey and share the kill and so on, but the most recent defining steps in hominid intelligence came largely from advantages within the social group. Keep them small enough (start with a wallaby?) and they can select for intelligence in competition against their predators until a tipping point where the competition becomes internal.

All primates are pretty intelligent because they need good coordination to live in the trees, and have a to pick food that is not found permanently, in many different foraging sites, with different availabilities, difficulty, competion, etc...
Herbivores are usually pretty dumb, compared to omnivores and carnivores of the same size.

Rowadanr wrote:Meanwhile: Another fun idea (along the lines of the ants/termites one) for this would be extreme eusociality in big flocks of brainy birds. Each member of a big flock using their-left-over-for-abstraction brain-time to think one or two simple, unconscious algorithms, and the whole swarm together making a Society of mind. They'd need some pretty complex signaling between birds to convey that sort of information, though, and realistically a big enough swarm would be huge.

So they would need something like complex harmonic sounds in long sequences?
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:08 pm UTC

True, kangaroos and wallabies aren't very smart. But they're also rather alien, so it's not easy to judge their intelligence properly, IMHO.

FWIW, kangaroos are reasonably common in my neighbourhood. It's not unusual to see them on my street, and occasionally I see one in my yard not long after sunrise.

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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

What do you mean 'fairly alien'? They're mammals. We can measure intelligence/cognition in non-mammals, why would marsupials be particularly difficult to assess?
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:24 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:What do you mean 'fairly alien'? They're mammals. We can measure intelligence/cognition in non-mammals, why would marsupials be particularly difficult to assess?

Ok. Yes, marsupials are mammals, but they do seem to have a different way of looking at the world, and that may cause us to be unfair in our judgments of their overall intelligence. They might do better on a marsupial-specific "IQ" test than they do on a "standard mammal" test.
Superficially, a kangaroo may resemble a rodent, but IME it's easier to get some form of rapport with a rat than with a kangaroo. OTOH, I guess tame kangaroos are easier to interact with than wild ones, but I don't think kangaroos that have been raised in captivity are all that representative of the true kangaroo mentality.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:29 pm UTC

I'm having a hard time figuring out why you think them being marsupials means they are particularly harder to test. You know one can test nematode 'intelligence' right? Your complaint that
PM 2Ring wrote: but they do seem to have a different way of looking at the world, and that may cause us to be unfair in our judgments of their overall intelligence

grossly overlooks the mountains of science done on animal cognition. It's like claiming chihuahuas are wildly different from the rest of dogs, and cannot be tested.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:31 am UTC

idobox wrote:All primates are pretty intelligent because they need good coordination to live in the trees, and have a to pick food that is not found permanently, in many different foraging sites, with different availabilities, difficulty, competition, etc...
Herbivores are usually pretty dumb, compared to omnivores and carnivores of the same size.

Well, right, you'd have to change their environment and behavior somehow to get things started.

I'm not sure if I follow with the ants. Are they individually "smarter" themselves, doing actual abstracted thinking of some kind, or is the "superorganism itself" doing all the thinking? Like a computer with ants for switches? (Obligatory.)

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm having a hard time figuring out why you think them being marsupials means they are particularly harder to test. You know one can test nematode 'intelligence' right?

Marsupials wouldn't be any more distant or special than many other mammal species, no, so this isn't much of a cover. Still, I'll bite: What's the technical use of "intelligent" that you're referring to? I honestly don't know it. I'm sort of inclined to think it's not what PM 2Ring means, and I'm not convinced yet that you're answering his question. What very little I do know is that intelligence isn't a sliding quantitative scale, that there are a lot of little qualitative steps we're concerned with that may or may not be strictly interdependent, etc.

Again, I'm not myself making the argument PM 2Ring is making, particularly since I don't think it addresses the original question. Proposing an intelligence other than an anthropomorphic one capable of social interaction, theory of mind, language and high abstraction, etc. doesn't make kangaroos act like people. It makes them act like really clever kangaroos, in some sense or another, but nothing builds a particle accelerator without forming a civilization first, and for that you need complex social behavior and language and high abstraction and so on.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:06 am UTC

CB, I'm fairly certain you're not following what was being discussed. The comment by PM 2Ring I was responding to was this
PM 2Ring wrote:True, kangaroos and wallabies aren't very smart. But they're also rather alien, so it's not easy to judge their intelligence properly, IMHO.

In a discussion about intelligence arising from 'other parts of the animal kingdom', I questioned why this is even remotely the case. Why are marsupials more 'alien' in mind than, say, ants? Or birds? Or whales? Or reptiles?
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:22 am UTC

Right, and I'm not arguing that. Either part - I agree that marsupials aren't particularly special, and I agree that I'm not fully following the conversation. I was working on the assumption that PM 2Ring was discussing something in connection with the original topic (the weird furry evolution thing.)

On the other hand, again, I really do want to know how "intelligence" is defined the way you're using it, that it could have any relevant application to a nematode. My understanding was that there really are some important disagreements about what characteristics count.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:40 am UTC

Metrics like 'ability to learn' or 'ability to retain learned information' can be used for things as simple as nematodes, often to olfactory queues. For example, they'll spike food with a particular compound, and then wash off the worms. Worms will then migrate towards the compound, thinking it's food. There are neuronal pathways you can disrupt with mutants that are unable to learn.
I'm not suggesting nematodes have particularly high intelligence, but they do have the ability to associate a couple different signals as positive or negative stimulus beyond normal pre-programmed queues. For example, you can also train nematodes to associate temperature with food.
I'll agree that intelligence is likely not a linear scale (that animals cognition is four milliHumans), but there are certainly metrics by which you can test intelligence.
For animals like Kangaroo's, there's no reason to assume their 'intelligence' will be any different from that of any 'ol herbivore.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:00 am UTC

Okay, cool. Thanks for that elaboration!
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:38 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:CB, I'm fairly certain you're not following what was being discussed. The comment by PM 2Ring I was responding to was this
PM 2Ring wrote:True, kangaroos and wallabies aren't very smart. But they're also rather alien, so it's not easy to judge their intelligence properly, IMHO.

In a discussion about intelligence arising from 'other parts of the animal kingdom', I questioned why this is even remotely the case. Why are marsupials more 'alien' in mind than, say, ants? Or birds? Or whales? Or reptiles?

I'm certainly no expert in animal behaviour. I wasn't implying that marsupials are more alien in mind than those examples that you just gave, merely that they are alien compared to typical placental mammals, and because of this qualitative difference it's not fair to compare their intelligence to other mammals on a simple linear scale. But we may be tempted to simply group them with other mammals due to their obvious mammal qualities, and gloss over important differences. I suspect that if kangaroos were "uplifted" to sapience (to borrow terminology from the stories of David Brin) that their world view would seem pretty alien to us. But of course I could be totally wrong.

I wouldn't expect sapient kangaroos to be that interested in building particle accelerators, OTOH I wouldn't be too surprised if they developed quantum teleportation. :)


To change the topic to non-mammalian intelligence, I've spent many hours interacting fairly closely with ant colonies and with daddy long legs spiders (Pholcus Phalangioides). They are far more alien than any mammal I've interacted with. But it's certainly possible to get them to modify their behaviours, to a degree, if you are patient.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby tomandlu » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:43 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:I'm certainly no expert in animal behaviour. I wasn't implying that marsupials are more alien in mind than those examples that you just gave, merely that they are alien compared to typical placental mammals


I'm trying to imagine what the hell marsupials ever did to you and your family to make the above look even partially sane. You do know Tank Girl was fiction, right? :wink:

But seriously, what is it about marsupials that makes you think they'd be that different to placental mammals apart from not needing handbags?
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:15 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote: I suspect that if kangaroos were "uplifted" to sapience (to borrow terminology from the stories of David Brin) that their world view would seem pretty alien to us.

Totally, I'm not disputing that. What I'm trying to convey is that because we descended from primates, we have a set of evolutionary behaviors that may seem totally alien to any other mammal, Eutherian or Monotreme, if they were lifted to sapience.
I remember reading some neato book about a future society that coexists with a bunch of other sapient species. One such species evolved from what can be described as the equivalent to prairie dogs. Because prairie dogs dig burrows with multiple exists, this intelligent being constructed mostly subterranean structures with multiple exists, and had an inherent agoraphobia. So you don't have to go particularly far to find a set of imperatives that may seem alien to us.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:31 pm UTC

Say at some point there was a drought and famine in australia,very little vegetation exists and what there is is kind of hidden, water only exists in small quantities in springs near the vegetation, it wouldn't take many generations to kill off the kangaroos that are too stupid to find what there is, a few more for some of the kangaroos to start using their fore limbs more, and possibly a few dozen generations before you start getting carnivorous kangaroos eating small animals that live near the oases, , smaller animals would then require to live away from the oases to survive, and again the kangaroos already evolved finding techniques are bought into play, animals run, kangaroos chase, animals get faster, kangaroos invent traps, animals avoid traps, kangaroos invent long range hunting, etc etc.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:42 pm UTC

tomandlu wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:I'm certainly no expert in animal behaviour. I wasn't implying that marsupials are more alien in mind than those examples that you just gave, merely that they are alien compared to typical placental mammals


I'm trying to imagine what the hell marsupials ever did to you and your family to make the above look even partially sane. You do know Tank Girl was fiction, right? :wink:

But seriously, what is it about marsupials that makes you think they'd be that different to placental mammals apart from not needing handbags?

Sorry, I don't know Tank Girl. But I love marsupials. I can spend hours watching kangaroos. And I feel privileged to live in a region where they hop down the street. When I was a child, I spent many hours hand-feeding tame kangaroos. I haven't tried to hand-feed wild ones: it's a bit difficult, since they tend to hop away when you get too close. But I have had some interesting close encounters with a wild rock wallaby that developed a taste for human foodstuffs.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:31 pm UTC

I've heard they're quite tasty and easy to keep.
AvatarIII wrote:kangaroos invent traps, animals avoid traps, kangaroos invent long range hunting, etc etc.

One small step from not moving out after college and hitting up their friends for a couple extra bucks. Scumbag Kangaroos!
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby AvatarIII » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I've heard they're quite tasty and easy to keep.
AvatarIII wrote:kangaroos invent traps, animals avoid traps, kangaroos invent long range hunting, etc etc.

One small step from not moving out after college and hitting up their friends for a couple extra bucks. Scumbag Kangaroos!

Lol well I'm thinking in terms of dozens to hundreds of generations, but yeah,
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:02 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I've heard they're quite tasty and easy to keep.

Well, I don't know what they taste like: I've been a vegetarian for most of my adult life, and kangaroo meat wasn't readily available when I was a child. I know a few people who regularly eat kangaroo, though, and they seem to enjoy it, but they do admit that it has quite a strong taste. There has been a fair bit of effort put into marketing kangaroo meat over the last couple of decades, but it's not that popular. It seems a lot of people don't like the idea of "eating Skippy". Of course, people of Aboriginal descent don't have such qualms.

As for keeping them, kangaroos don't fit well with a traditional European farming model. They don't like to be stuck in one place and do not prosper in an enclosed environment. Also, kangaroos can leap quite high, so kangaroo-proof fencing tends to be rather impractical. So all commercial kangaroo meat is free-range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_meat wrote:Kangaroo is produced only from free ranging wild animals living on land owned by people and not produced by organised farming.[2][3] Both the meat and the hides are sold. Although most species of macropod are protected from hunting by law, a small number of the large-sized species which exist in high numbers can be hunted by commercial hunters.[4] This policy has been criticized by some animal rights activists.[5] On the other hand, the kangaroo harvest is supported by a wide range of professional ecologists in Australia. Groups such as the Ecological Society of Australia, the Australasian Wildlife Management Society and the Australian Mammal Society have position statements in favour of kangaroo harvesting. Such groups argue that basing agricultural production systems on native animals rather than introduced livestock like sheep offers considerable ecological advantages to the fragile Australian rangelands and could save greenhouse gas emissions.[6][7]
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:33 pm UTC

But my guess is they eat substancially less than an equivalent numbered herd of cows. So you can keep them on a larger land range to let them hop about (eeeeeeeeeee!) and house more of them. Actually, I don't know anything about their social habits or how they fare in large groups, I wager their similar to herd animals but could be wrong.

As for the taste, I hear they're pretty good. A bit gamey, but tender. I've also read that part of the issue with raising them for meat is that they're Australia's national animal, or on the countries crest or some such? So, yeah, it'd be like trying to raise American Eagles for consumption over here I guess.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:possibly a few dozen generations before you start getting carnivorous kangaroos
I don't know anything about kangaroo digestion, but that seems like too few generations to become carnivorous.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:53 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:But my guess is they eat substancially less than an equivalent numbered herd of cows. So you can keep them on a larger land range to let them hop about (eeeeeeeeeee!) and house more of them. Actually, I don't know anything about their social habits or how they fare in large groups, I wager their similar to herd animals but could be wrong.


Kangaroos are definitely a lot more efficient than cows. They aren't exactly ruminants, but like cows, they chew their cud and they have a multi-chambered digestive system. Unlike cows, they don't produce methane: their digestive bacteria instead produce an acetate compound, which provides further energy for the animal.

Of course, a kangaroo is a lot smaller than a cow, so you'd need a greater number per unit area to produce an equivalent amount of meat.They can achieve fairly high population densities when adequate food and water are available. As I said earlier, it's not practical to try to fence them in. They need to be able to move around, and a large kangaroo can easily clear a 2 metre high fence. They don't have a herd structure like cattle, and they will fight over resources if necessary.

Kangaroos have co-evolved with the native grass species (many of which cattle tend to avoid because they are too tough and dry) and their soft feet do far less damage to the soil structure than cattle (or sheep) do.

Izawwlgood wrote:As for the taste, I hear they're pretty good. A bit gamey, but tender. I've also read that part of the issue with raising them for meat is that they're Australia's national animal, or on the countries crest or some such? So, yeah, it'd be like trying to raise American Eagles for consumption over here I guess.

According to the Wiki link I provided earlier, there are various health benefits to roo meat.

Yes, they are on the national coat of arms, but that's not really a big deal, per se. However, they are regarded fondly by a vast majority of the population - along with the koala, they are a kind of national mascot. Also, they are cute and cuddly-looking, characteristics which aren't exactly associated with the Bald Eagle :).

FWIW, koalas aren't particularly edible - their eucalyptus leaf diet gives the meat a very intense taste.


gmalivuk wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:possibly a few dozen generations before you start getting carnivorous kangaroos
I don't know anything about kangaroo digestion, but that seems like too few generations to become carnivorous.


Definitely. FWIW, there have been very few carnivorous marsupials, and most of those are extinct, except for the Tasmanian Devil, which is currently having a hard time due to a contagious disease that causes tumours. There was a Tasmanian Tiger, but it wasn't popular with the early European settlers, as it (allegedly) attacked lambs.

I guess with some genetic engineering you could produce a carnivorous kangaroo-like creature without it taking millions of years. But it wouldn't be easy. And it wouldn't be sufficient by itself to pave the way for sapience. Sure, eating meat means you need to spend less time gathering and consuming food. However, brains take a lot of energy to run, and one of the reasons many marsupials can get by on a fairly low calorie intake is that they don't waste energy on big brains. To make a super-smart kangaroo, you'd need to make room for a much larger brain, which would require a much larger head and associated support structures. Which of course would push up its overall food requirements.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:14 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:Kangaroos are definitely a lot more efficient than cows. They aren't exactly ruminants, but like cows, they chew their cud and they have a multi-chambered digestive system. Unlike cows, they don't produce methane: their digestive bacteria instead produce an acetate compound, which provides further energy for the animal.

That is totally awesome.
PM 2Ring wrote:FWIW, there have been very few carnivorous marsupials, and most of those are extinct, except for the Tasmanian Devil, which is currently having a hard time due to a contagious disease that causes tumours.

The possum family? I think there are a good deal of omnivorous marsupials.
PM 2Ring wrote:And it wouldn't be sufficient by itself to pave the way for sapience.

I think there are handful of requirements for intelligence as we know it arising, and Kangaroo's don't seem particularly close to fitting the bill.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby PM 2Ring » Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:28 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:FWIW, there have been very few carnivorous marsupials, and most of those are extinct, except for the Tasmanian Devil, which is currently having a hard time due to a contagious disease that causes tumours.

The possum family? I think there are a good deal of omnivorous marsupials.

The omnivorous marsupials tend to eat carrion &/or small prey like insects. They don't tend to be hunters of larger game, and they still need to spend a fair amount of time feeding themselves.

Izawwlgood wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:And it wouldn't be sufficient by itself to pave the way for sapience.

I think there are handful of requirements for intelligence as we know it arising, and Kangaroo's don't seem particularly close to fitting the bill.

Agreed.

If you ever see the novelette "Kangaroo Court," by Virginia Kidd (reprinted as "Flowering Season"), read it. It features kangaroo-like aliens.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby idobox » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
idobox wrote:All primates are pretty intelligent because they need good coordination to live in the trees, and have a to pick food that is not found permanently, in many different foraging sites, with different availabilities, difficulty, competition, etc...
Herbivores are usually pretty dumb, compared to omnivores and carnivores of the same size.

Well, right, you'd have to change their environment and behavior somehow to get things started.

I'm not sure if I follow with the ants. Are they individually "smarter" themselves, doing actual abstracted thinking of some kind, or is the "superorganism itself" doing all the thinking? Like a computer with ants for switches? (Obligatory.)


I was thinking of ants wouldn't be really smarter than regular ones, but they would have a number simple stupid behaviours that could be switched on and off, depending on some higher order state of the colony.
A famous example of ant intelligence is for food foraging. They basically wander off randomly, and when they find food, they go back home straight, leaving a little bit of pheromones. Other ants still wander randomly, but have a preference for directions with higher pheromone level. After some time, you will have highways of ants going directly to and from the food source.
A simple variation on this would be to modulate this behaviour with the amount of food stored: If there is little food, ants will show a strong preference for high pheromone, so that discovered food will be foraged efficiently; but when there is plenty of food, ants would care less for the pheromone, or a part of the colony could even run away from it, to explore more efficiently, and find even more food.
Now take that kind of modulation, and make it 1000 times more complex.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Joeldi » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:11 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:But my guess is they eat substancially less than an equivalent numbered herd of cows. So you can keep them on a larger land range to let them hop about (eeeeeeeeeee!) and house more of them.

Australian Beef cattle are generally farmed on a very large land range anyway. I'm no farmer, but I grew up in a cattle farming area, and the herds I've seen always had plenty of space to roam about in. I'm sure everyone's heard about the cattle properties in central Australia as big as European countries, though only a few of them are that big.
Cutting down on methane production would be a definite advantage though.

Izawwlgood wrote:As for the taste, I hear they're pretty good. A bit gamey, but tender. I've also read that part of the issue with raising them for meat is that they're Australia's national animal, or on the countries crest or some such? So, yeah, it'd be like trying to raise American Eagles for consumption over here I guess.

I won't speak for everyone else, but my mother always freaked out about the fact that Roos are hunted, not farmed, and therefore much more likely to have parasites etc that could be dangerous to people. She's a worry wart, and I'm sure it's not all that likely, but just the thought of worms crawling around has turned me off eating it a bit.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Jplus » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:11 pm UTC

Enter Toxoplasma.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:41 pm UTC

Jplus wrote:Enter Toxoplasma.


Were you going for Descolada?
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Jplus » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:06 pm UTC

No, never heard about that one. :)
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:12 pm UTC

How many are the enemy, but where are they? Within, without, never ceases the fight.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Codemasterc » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:38 am UTC

If I recall correctly while amphibians were still clinging to shores in the early days of life there were already gigantic scropian like insects roaming the earth. They shrank over time due to decreases of oxygen to the size they are now. My point being that gigantic insects are a possibilty even with exoskeletons. Thus it is perfectly convieceable that tree dwelling primate like insects could evolve given the appropriate conditions. Thus if they were social could evolve into human like insects society while still remaining very hive like. There would likely be absolute monarchies as queens would rule and it would be a world at constant war given how territorial and empirical ants and to a less extent bees are. They would either annihalate eachother or one hive would come out on top as the plantetary hive queen. Given the constant warfare and since warfare has the tendency to increase technological expansion (Though more out of neccesity) we could guess the could achieve interstellar flight before other planets and would continue expanding there empire conquering every planet they come across.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:49 am UTC

The previous poster. Wave ALL the hands!
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Codemasterc » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:17 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The previous poster. Wave ALL the hands!


*Waves All the hands, all four of them.* Hello.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:43 am UTC

You might misunderstand the reference;
I'm suggesting every part of your post is one giant exercise in bullshit.
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Re: Intelligence evolving from other parts of the animal kin

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:50 pm UTC

To be fair, this is the fictional science subforum.
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