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Offline atomicyoghurt

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higher species
« on: 04/01/2006 14:56:22 »
How do we decide what is a higher species?  For example, we might say a dog is a higher species than a rat, although they do not seem to be more physically complex.  Is there some genetic definition, or is it philosophical?


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: higher species
« Reply #1 on: 04/01/2006 15:37:11 »
I think it's down to level of intelligence. Although some of the people who live round here would seem to disprove that.
 

Offline atomicyoghurt

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Re: higher species
« Reply #2 on: 04/01/2006 16:16:58 »
but how is intelligence defined? Is it all about getting through a maze to a piece of cheese or is it more complex than that?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: higher species
« Reply #3 on: 04/01/2006 16:45:05 »
It's a bit more complicated than that. Through the ages, some of the best brains in the world have pondered that question and still not arrived at a definitive definition.
 

another_someone

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Re: higher species
« Reply #4 on: 04/01/2006 18:15:16 »
I suspect its one of those phrases that has multiple meanings.

I always assumed it related to how high up the food chain one was.  If you predated another species, you were regarded as higher up in the food chain, and if you had no natural predators then you were the highest or top of the food chain.

In general, things higher up on the food chain will not typically be less intelligent than something lower down the food chain.  Firstly, the brain requires a lot of high concentration food, and meat and fish certainly are that (although Gorillas are clearly intelligent herbivores).  Secondly, intelligence only pays off if you have a long life span, and if you are being heavily predated, you will not be unlikely to live long enough to learn much or to put it to much good use.

As I said, it has multiple meanings.  Not least because humans have always started with the assumption they were top of the tree, and placed all other animals below them, so whatever definition they used for higher and lower orders of animals would have to support this assumption.  This would once have been justified by the notion that humans were closest to God, but biologists no longer consider the notion of a God in their definitions, so they have tried to find other definitions that would do as well, and leave humans at the top of the tree.
« Last Edit: 04/01/2006 18:31:41 by another_someone »
 

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Re: higher species
« Reply #4 on: 04/01/2006 18:15:16 »

 

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