Re: Brain development.

Steve Nicholas (steve.nicholas@AIRGUN.WG.WAII.COM)
Thu, 2 Feb 1995 17:29:37 +0000

OK so this then brings us back to the difference that we observe of
culture versus genetics.

Does this then mean that intelligence operates outside ecology?

I have heard it said that Modern Man now lives *on* the planet rather
than *within* it. Would you agree? Have we reached some critical level
where we have opted out of evolution?

I don't want to digress too much from the original thread which was the
growth of the intelligence asset.

We have identified that intelligence is a very important asset.

I want to consider *why* the intelligence has come about. It has been
suggested that there may be at least two extremely intelligent species,
ourselves and certain cetations that currently exist.

Has this intelligence developed independently or is there some vital
common ancestor that had the 'seed' for intelligence which has today only
manifested itself in humans and dolphins?

If dolphins are inferior to us intelligence-wise then is it likely that
at some point they will also 'opt out' of evolution in the same way?

My primary thread is the issue of the rapid growth in human intelligence.

What governs the 'velocity' of intelligence acquisition within a species?

See below for comments.

On Thu, 2 Feb 1995, JOHN LANGDON wrote:

> Steve Nicholas writes:
> >
> > Surely a niche is a certain size.
> > If more than one species developed an advantageous asset that would enable
> > them to occupy the *same* niche then they could fill the niche until the
> > system could no longer support their similar activity. It would be then that
> > subtle advantages would enable one species to survive and the other to become
> > extinct.
> This is the key idea. Niche should be defined in terms of one or more essential
> resources; thus the notion of competitive exclusion becomes applicable. But
> intelligence is not a resource and it is not limited. There is not a finite
> amount of intelligence to be divided up among species in the way there is a
> finite number of seeds to be eaten. Intelligence does not necessarily give one a
> competitive edge. Look at the way we compete for our food supply with roaches
> and mice.

Yes, I can appreciate this.

> > Are there any examples in other species where an asset does not occupy a
> > niche? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
> Intelligence is one strategy for exploiting the environment, but not a niche.
> Success depends on how well one uses one's assets in competition with another
> species assets.

Steve Nicholas
Western Geophysical, Manton Lane, BEDFORD, Beds., MK42 7PA, UK. | Phone +44 1234 224411 | Fax +44 1234 224507
Don't let people drive you crazy when you know it's in walking