The Possibility of Cetacean Civilizations

Some people have proposed that planets composed mostly of water could serve as cradles for advanced cetacean civilizations. There may be some truth to this. Research proves that cetacean brains have changed considerably throughout the 55 million years that they’ve inhabited the Earth. That’s one of the reasons that they’re so often cited in academic research involving astrobiology. Cetacean species represent the only real alternative evolution to intelligence that’s currently recognized by a majority of scientists.

While it might seem arrogant to say, cetaceans are not currently thought to be as intelligent as humans. Aquatic mammals are brilliant, and they sometimes seem to have psychological processes that resemble those of humans. In fact, they have many of the same psychological issues that humans do. However, they aren’t quite the same here on Earth.

Still, it seems that aquatic mammals could reach an even higher level of development if given enough time and/or the right environment. Proposing worlds where this is true is an interesting thought experiment. Tools and technology have evolved on Earth to be useful to those with hands and feet. This makes it hard to believe that aquatic mammals could construct civilizations resembling those on Earth.

Nevertheless, it’s possible for dolphins and whales to use many tools adapted for them by human handlers. They might very well have developed similar adaptations in their own cultures. No colony of such animals on Earth has ever created such things by themselves, so for now it’s merely an interesting concept. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for this to occur on a planet where there was little or no threat to survival.

Some research has provided fantastical solutions for problems involving the use of tools by aquatic mammals. For instance, writers have sometimes suggested that machines could be manipulated by some form of telepathy. For now, that sort of thing is completely beyond our comprehension or understanding. Regardless though, the idea that aquatic beings could have developed superior intelligence and capabilities on other planets is a pretty cool one in my opinion. What do you think?

  • http://twitter.com/jason_d_carr/status/263621714481651713/ Jason Carr (@jason_d_carr)

    The Possibility of Cetacean Civilizations | wired cosmos http://t.co/7pQT3VGy

  • http://jameswharris.wordpress.com Jim Harris

    I grew up reading John Lilly’s research on dolphins. I’m not sure if we have any idea how intelligent dolphins are because we can’t break through the communication barrier. Our anthropocentric view of reality may keep us from ever communicating with any other intelligent species, on this planet, or any other.

    • Jason Carr

      How correct you are Jim in terms of our views of nature/life/etc. If we ever do break through the barrier, I’d be scared of what these intelligent beings would tell us…my guess is they’d say something along the lines of, “stop killing us and stop killing our planet!”. It’s an interesting topic which led me to write this but I’m hesitant to say we’ll ever achieve communication with them as well…perhaps they don’t want us to.

      • http://jameswharris.wordpress.com Jim Harris

        Probably a century from now, most people will look back on us and see us as evil.

        • Jason Carr

          Haha true…or just plain ‘stupid’. :)

  • http://twitter.com/ProfAbelMendez/status/263712669834563584/ Prof. Abel Méndez (@ProfAbelMendez)

    The Possibility of Cetacean Civilizations http://t.co/ZnA6nxUe

  • http://twitter.com/Orange_salt/status/263714037425131520/ @Orange_salt

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