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Thread: What if another hominid species were alive today?

  1. #1 What if another hominid species were alive today? 
    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    I hesitated whether this should go here or in the Biology section, but finally, here I go.

    Let's imagine that some of our evolutionary close relatives, I mean much closer than the chimps or gorillas, is found living on a remote island or deep in some jungle. Say, the Neanderthals or the recently discovered "Hobbits".

    Folks speaking a language of, say, 200 words, capable of counting to 7 and handling tools with up to 3 distinguishable parts. Living in a social structure somewhere between a pack of gorillas and a Stone Age tribe.

    What would their legal, moral and political status be? Would we know how to coexist with being that are more than animals, but not quite humans like ourselves?

    Just curious....


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    very interesting question. i have pondered this myself.

    today we have a much more mutually supportive culture than we did in the past. we acknowledge that other people have certain basic rights. we also recognize the rights of groups other than our own. wars of conquest by one group to take the land or wealth of another group are unethical and largely looked down upon.

    this is largely different from the species we were when we eliminated all other homonid species through competition. at that time the society was based on the small social groups of the time. there was little or no consideration of non related groups and the effects of one's actions on those groups.

    that being said i don't know how we would co-exist with a much less mentally and technologically advanced species. when europeans found native americans they enslaved them, drove them from their land, killed their men, and when european men had children with their women the kids were considered second class citizens.

    i think that we would do what we could to limit our impact on them. unfortunately i don't think there is any way such a species could be integrated into our society. if they were our mental equals then i could see it. but if they only had the intellectual capacity of early homonids then chances are they are actually better off being left unfound, we would either study them and not allow them the benefit of our technology, or we would soon adopt them into our society as the type of second class citizens that native americans and their half european descendants became in colonial society.


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    Folks speaking a language of, say, 200 words, capable of counting to 7 and handling tools with up to 3 distinguishable parts. Living in a social structure somewhere between a pack of gorillas and a Stone Age tribe.

    What would their legal, moral and political status be?
    In U.S. there would be immedeately established candidacy of one of them for a president ballot.
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    They'd join the tea party and suggest that evolution and climate change are big conspiracies.


    Kidding aside, I can see a more dictatorial system with such a group, where the biggest and strongest are in control, and the smartest use those to their advantage. In short, much like us.
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    I don't their would much of an international standard to treat them one way or the other. Conditions might improve if they were rushed into endangered status--but not much.

    I'd hope there'd be nothing of value around them. If we can pump hundreds of millions of dollars of oil out from under the feet of near starving Iraqi's who's families haven't moved in centuries, than we could wipe out these new hominids faster than Colonel Quaritch decided to bring down the home tree.

    The right thing to do is probably create a reserve around them and leave them alone.
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    Maybe Homo neanderthalensis is close to what you said. But they have been pushed out history by us, though part of them may exist only in European people's gene.
    Since there are already too many political systems on the earth, I don't think one more political system will be quite different, we will affect each other.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wangwy13
    Maybe Homo neanderthalensis is close to what you said.
    I think what's described is far below the capabilities of Neanderthal. And considering that I'm part Neanderthal means obviously fertile cross breeds resulted and they probably should be regarded as more a subspecies than as a separate species.
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    @ Lynx_Fox

    The right thing to do is probably create a reserve around them and leave them alone.
    I would say if they were maybe a step or two above a chimpanzee that would be a good policy. However if they were more capable, say close to humans in learning ability, I would have a real problem with that and would advocate that we help improve there standard of living.

    @ wangwy13

    Maybe Homo neanderthalensis is close to what you said. But they have been pushed out history by us, though part of them may exist only in European people's gene.
    My understanding about this is that they have not found any neanderthal genes or gene markers in any human they have tested with that in mind. If I'm wrong please correct me.

    @ Lynx_Fox

    And considering that I'm part Neanderthal means obviously fertile cross breeds resulted and they probably should be regarded as more a subspecies than as a separate species.
    May I consider this an expression of humor?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    And considering that I'm part Neanderthal means obviously fertile cross breeds resulted and they probably should be regarded as more a subspecies than as a separate species.
    May I consider this an expression of humor?
    Somewhat, but was I said appears to be, Europeans are about 4% Neanderthal according to a genetic study released last spring.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...902037988.html

    --
    I would also disagree with trying to raise their living conditions. We already have a bad record of completely destroying other human cultures around the world by such pretentious assumptions of what's "good." If they are smarter than the original species proposed in the open thread and somewhere close to us, or even our intellectual equals, it should be their decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    Somewhat, but was I said appears to be, Europeans are about 4% Neanderthal according to a genetic study released last spring.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...902037988.html
    I have a creationest friend that I'm really going to enjoy showing that article to.

    --
    I would also disagree with trying to raise their living conditions. We already have a bad record of completely destroying other human cultures around the world by such pretentious assumptions of what's "good." If they are smarter than the original species proposed in the open thread and somewhere close to us, or even our intellectual equals, it should be their decision.
    If we found them on another world I would probably agree with you. But on our world if we did make contact and they aren't stupid, they are going to start becoming aware of what they've been missing out on and they will want to know more. So what you are suggesting is leaving them totally ignorant so they won't be able to make an informed decision. Somehow I can't see anything good about that action.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban

    If we found them on another world I would probably agree with you. But on our world if we did make contact and they aren't stupid, they are going to start becoming aware of what they've been missing out on and they will want to know more. So what you are suggesting is leaving them totally ignorant so they won't be able to make an informed decision. Somehow I can't see anything good about that action.
    "Missing" out on? I see the whole notion that they'd value what we have as presumptuous-especially as it applies to another species. Too much blood on our hands from similar thinking over the past four or five centuries from dealings with our own species, I think it would be all too easy for us to do something as equally destructive to another even if we had best intentions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox
    "Missing" out on? I see the whole notion that they'd value what we have as presumptuous-especially as it applies to another species. Too much blood on our hands from similar thinking over the past four or five centuries from dealings with our own species, I think it would be all too easy for us to do something as equally destructive to another even if we had best intentions.
    Once discovered do you think we wouldn't try and communicate with them? Regardless of how you feel about it, I think there is no way they would ever be left alone. Even if the world counsel said make it so, the poachers would still get through.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Once discovered do you think we wouldn't try and communicate with them?
    Lets not confuse what I think we should do which is quite different from what I think would probably happen.

    I think we'd likely annihilate them-like just about every culture of our own species. As what we should do, even benevolent actions are subject to bias. Much like a 17th century ancestor of mine who sold liquor to "savages" of Wisconsin (of which I'm 1/4 Native American) to destroy their culture and make it easier to introduce Christianity in an attempt to better their condition. Sociology is full of examples of bringing ruin just by the questioning and study of aboriginal cultures and much of the angst against Western culture today is the direct result of interference or exploitation of their peoples. So I think the best answer is encircle them in a kind of natural reserve and don't even do so much as study them except from satellites and by other remote means.
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    @ Lynx_Fox

    Much like a 17th century ancestor of mine who sold liquor to "savages" of Wisconsin (of which I'm 1/4 Native American) to destroy their culture and make it easier to introduce Christianity in an attempt to better their condition. Sociology is full of examples of bringing ruin just by the questioning and study of aboriginal cultures and much of the angst against Western culture today is the direct result of interference or exploitation of their peoples. So I think the best answer is encircle them in a kind of natural reserve and don't even do so much as study them except from satellites and by other remote means.
    Your point is well taken and I'm very sure Avatar is a movie you enjoyed very much (I know I did). But truthfully knowing what should be done is a far cry as to what would actually be done and in real life the more primitive culture will be the loser in more ways than the more advanced culture. Notice I think both cultures will be losers
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    Prehistoric people ate each other, bones show
    'Nutritional cannibalism' may have been practiced 12,000 years ago, research finds

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40641062

    Not sure how this might apply to this topic, but it's very interesting.
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  17. #16 Re: What if another hominid species were alive today? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Luchowski
    Folks speaking a language of, say, 200 words, capable of counting to 7 and handling tools with up to 3 distinguishable parts. Living in a social structure somewhere between a pack of gorillas and a Stone Age tribe.

    If they could count at all, then they'd probably count to 10, because of having 10 fingers.

    What would their legal, moral and political status be? Would we know how to coexist with being that are more than animals, but not quite humans like ourselves?

    Just curious....
    Historically, the two options have always been either "domesticate", or "assimilate". The "leave them alone" option is almost never pursued. At the very least some of them would be captured for study. They'd be a curiosity like Dolphins and Whales, so people would start trying to see how much education they could absorb. After the captives start to breed, then we'd have a population we couldn't just send back into the "wild".

    If we assimilate them, then probably they would end up with the same status that people with Downs Syndrome have in our culture today. If we domesticate them, then I think people with Downs Syndrome would have a very dubious future....... because why wouldn't they be next?
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    because people with downs syndrome are argueably still members of our species although their somatic chromosome count is different from ours.
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    because people with downs syndrome are argueably still members of our species although their somatic chromosome count is different from ours.

    That seems like a very arbitrary basis to determine status from. If we encountered a species with exactly the same cognitive ability, who could speak our language, learn at our universities, and do everything else we do, but they didn't have the same chromosome count, they wouldn't enjoy the same rights as we do in our society by virtue of not being technically "human"?
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    There will be a fight between 2 communities: the interventionists and the non-interventionists.
    The first will gather pentecostal preacher and other crooks, human rights defenders, women rights defenders and lawyers. There points will be :
    "We cannot leave these people live in (choose the right answer):
    - without knowing the world of Jesus
    - without comfort of modern society
    - with women still being oppressed and beaten
    - with the children working when they are 11
    - with the old being let to die
    - with endemic cannibalism"

    The second group will be mainly scientists who will create a kind of reservations, observe the communities with the least possible interactions. There will then be a debate among this community whether they are human or non human. Obviously, if the status will pass as human, they will enjoy to join the first group.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    because people with downs syndrome are argueably still members of our species although their somatic chromosome count is different from ours.

    That seems like a very arbitrary basis to determine status from. If we encountered a species with exactly the same cognitive ability, who could speak our language, learn at our universities, and do everything else we do, but they didn't have the same chromosome count, they wouldn't enjoy the same rights as we do in our society by virtue of not being technically "human"?
    humans have certain basic rights. the reason we accept people with downs syndrome as members of our society is because they argueably have the same rights that we do. the question only arises because of their reduced mental capacity. if a chromosomal mutation occured that granted higher mental or physical functions than our own, the question wouldn't even come up. so if we found hominid organisms that are superior to us then whether or not they're members of our species wouldn't even be a question in my mind.

    i brought up the fact that people with downs syndrome are human simply because we are looking at a case of mentally inferior groups.
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  22. #21 Re: What if another hominid species were alive today? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    [If they could count at all, then they'd probably count to 10, because of having 10 fingers.
    Not if they had a short attention span.
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    Slightly relevant: The journals of Captain Cook: In the 1760's he is meeting undiscovered stone age people, including cannibals. He may well have thought they were a different humanoid species. He tries to make contact where possible, their interactions are covered to a certain extent.
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    I think the nearest of a contact with another human species is the contact of first europeans with Tasmanians.
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    One of his crew completely freaks out one group of people with a set of bagpipes. They are convinced it's a singing animal. Cook + co are equally mystified by first sighting of a kangaroo.
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  26. #25 Re: What if another hominid species were alive today? 
    Forum Ph.D. Leszek Luchowski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    If they could count at all, then they'd probably count to 10, because of having 10 fingers.
    Provided they had the idea of counting on one's fingers. The counting skills of various animals have been tested; I'm not aware of any of them being related to the number of digits on their paws (ape hands, dog feet etc).
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    Thereare human tribes today that live by those skill sets. Many tribes still have noconcept of many things 1st world consumerists have grown accustomed to. ThePirahá tribe in Brazil only has words similar to "one, two," and"many". They have no need to count larger. Why do we need numbers? Tokeep track of things, to count. Money, that is. If you have Netflix, watch"The Story of 1". Interesting documentary on numbers.
    Language is the same. They will only have names for the things that they needto name. Tools follow suit, they will only make tools for what they need. Asfar as a social structure between gorillas and "Stone Age" man.... isthere a difference?
    Concurrent to their use of language, arithmetic, and tools, their socialstructure would be primal and fit for their needs, most likely similar to aboriginaltribes today. Given that these hominids are close to us on the genetic level,they will undoubtedly look like us and allow for easy assimilation to thegenetic pool. Which, ironically enough, is what happened in the past.

    We(first class citizens) would live along sidethem as we live with any other tribetoday; As far on the other side of the world from them...
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