Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration


The author of a new study of evolutionary convergence argues that the development of life on Earth is predictable, meaning that similar organisms should therefore have appeared on other, Earth-like planets by now.

“The almost-certainty of ET being out there means that something does not add up, and badly. We should not be alone, but we are.”

That’s the view of leading evolutionary biologist, Simon Conway Morris, a Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. That outlook and others are carried in his new book The Runes of Evolution – How the Universe Became Self-Aware.

Rigid set of rules

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, Conway Morris suggests.

According to a University of Cambridge press statement, the book claims that evolution is far from random, but a predictable process that operates according to a fairly rigid set of rules.

Simon Conway Morris Credit: Map of Life website

Simon Conway Morris
Credit: Map of Life website

“If that is the case, then it follows that life similar to that on Earth would also develop in the right conditions on other, equivalent planets. Given the growing number of Earth-like planets of which astronomers are now aware, it is increasingly extraordinary that aliens that look and behave something like us have not been found,” Conway Morris contends.

Inevitable consequence

Conway Morris has previously raised the prospect that alien life, if out there, would resemble earthlings – with limbs, heads, and bodies. In his new book, he adds that any Earth-like planet should also evolve thunniform predators (like sharks), pitcher plants, mangroves, and mushrooms, among many other things.

Limbs, brains and intelligence would, similarly, be “almost guaranteed.” The traits of human-like intelligence have evolved in other species – the octopus and some birds, for example, both exhibit social playfulness – and this, Conway Morris observes, indicates that intelligence is an inevitable consequence of evolution that would characterize extraterrestrials as well.

Perplexing issue

“The number of Earth-like planets seems to be far greater than was thought possible even a few years ago,” Conway Morris notes. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have life, because we don’t necessarily understand how life originates. The consensus offered by convergence, however, is that life is going to evolve wherever it can.”

Credit: Map of Life website

Credit: Map of Life website


Conway Morris adds: “I would argue that in any habitable zone that doesn’t boil or freeze, intelligent life is going to emerge, because intelligence is convergent. One can say with reasonable confidence that the likelihood of something analogous to a human evolving is really pretty high. And given the number of potential planets that we now have good reason to think exist, even if the dice only come up the right way every one in 100 throws, that still leads to a very large number of intelligences scattered around, that are likely to be similar to us.”

If this is so, as the book suggests, then it makes Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox – why, if aliens exist, we have not yet been contacted – even more perplexing.


The Runes of Evolution, by Simon Conway Morris, is published by Templeton Press at:

Also, go to this Cambridge University press release:

Check out this Map of Life website at:

One Response to “ET: Nowhere to be Found?”

  • Luiza says:

    I think there should be intensified scientific observational study of the following Stars, Sirius, Vega, Orion, including, Chapel this because I consider it to be probable that these Stars possess Planetary Systems.

    I add this opinion further.
    The Human Race must be fully aware that it is not exclusive, and descending from a Star Race, I have no doubt of that.
    I deeply believe that a Civilization much more advanced than Earth, is sending us impulses, communication has long been.
    However we do not realize this, because at the moment we do not yet have the technology that allows us to decipher these impulses, but I think in the near future this will be possible.
    I do not agree with what Edward Snowden said in the interview he gave, because we would never be able to spy on the communications of a Civilization much more advanced than ours, because our technology will be very primitive alongside DELES, which is certainly extremely advanced and Sophisticated.
    However we must be aware that the reverse can happen, because surely these Civilizations have a technology far superior to ours that allows them to have access to our communications network taking into account the distance factor, which surely for them is not a problem from the point of view. View of Communications Engineering.
    This is my personal opinion, which I think will meet the opinion of many researchers in this area.
    I sincerely believe with total certainty that one day we will be surprised with a Contact Sign that contains a Message that will be addressed to us.
    The Human Race must be aware that it has never been alone in this immense universe, we descended from the 5 Original Races that came to colonize the Earth in the distant past, about 295 billion years ago, or even more, that will be a very difficult thing to determine.

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