Aliens might look remarkably like us, say scientists

Commentary: A new study from the University of Oxford posits that little green men might not be well, green.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Woman and alien posing for cell phone selfie

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Donald Iain Smith

Do you look around at some of your fellow humans and think: "Really?" Or: "What planet are you from?"

Not everyone in our orbit seems entirely, well, from here. 

There may now be some science to support this. A new study from the University of Oxford suggests that aliens might be subject to the same -- or similar -- evolutionary processes as we are. 

Sam Levin, a researcher in the university's Department of Zoology, said on Oxford's website that this study offers "an alternative approach, which is to use evolutionary theory to make predictions that are independent of Earth's details."

The researchers considered what major evolutionary transitions might have occurred out there. Just as they did down here when, say, crawling, hopping animals transitioned into members of Congress.  

These scientists were brave enough not only to consider what leaps alien life might have made, but to offer actual predictions.

Indeed, Levin made this stunning statement: "By predicting that aliens [have] undergone major transitions -- which is how complexity has arisen in species on earth -- we can say that there is a level of predictability to evolution that would cause them to look like us."

There you have it. That strange, inarticulate creature in the cubicle next to yours might, indeed, be from the Planet Plim. Which would explain so much.

The researchers insist that if alien life was subject to the sorts of evolutionary patterns existing here, their civilizations would depend on some of the same principles as ours. 

For example, the need for cooperation and the tendency to find ways to dampen conflict. Not that we're doing too good a job of either of these.

But even if aliens have gone through similar evolutionary changes, it doesn't mean that they'll react to events in the same way that we do. 

As Stephen Hawking pointed out, they might hate us. They might take one look at us, experience exalted levels of contempt and decide it's only worth ransacking us for, I don't know, our baked goods and our sports.

Just because someone looks like you, it doesn't mean they think like you, nor that they like you.

At least when we believed aliens looked like little green men, we knew what to look out for. After this research, whom can we trust?

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