Did other “human” equivalent species ever exist?

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Discussion by: luivis7

While reading chapter 3 "Accumulating Small Change" of "The Blind Watchmaker" I came accross how different species around the world can evolve into similar traits. For example, the African and South American wekaly electric fish, use electric waves in a similar way but have their differences in shape (i.e., single fin on the back and single fin on the belly, respectively). If this type of similarities can be found with other species (bats, fish, dolphins, etc.) how come there isn't a human equivalent? How come the oldest human fossils are all found in Africa and theories point to modern humans migrating from Africa to the rest of the world. Shouldn't there be similar/equivalent fossils for the modern human in other parts of the world? I'm just curious to find out if there are clues, or theories that will explain why modern humans evolved from Africa only. Were there geographical factors or any other factors that drove natural selection into preventing evolution elsewhere?

30 COMMENTS

  1. Two thoughts:

    1) The increase in temperatures turned forests into savannah, thus caused indirectly the bipedal motion, and thence to us…

    2) We see the result of evolution so the intermediates are not all known, these may have existed, but how could we tell 2 homind species-lines apart when all we see is fossilized bones?

    • In reply to #2 by Alan4discussion:

      Did other “human” equivalent species ever exist?

      The evidence of Neanderthals and Denisovans suggests they did – as was being discussed on this discussion. http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/12/21/the-mating-habits-of-early-hominins#

      I should have been more specific in my question. Are there fossil evidence in places like south/north america?
      why is that all humam species originated near africa?

      • In reply to #3 by luivis7:

        In reply to #2 by Alan4discussion:

        I should have been more specific in my question. Are there fossil evidence in places like south/north america? why is that all humam species originated near africa?

        The common ancestor of humans, chimps, and bonobos, originated in Africa, with various speciating branches, some of which have gone extinct. There is some uncertainty, because it is difficult to tell a fossil ancestral line from a closely related branching off it.

        The migrations of hominids were governed by changes in sea-levels (related to ice-ages) opening and closing routes as land bridges turned into islands and seas, when piled up ice caps built up or thawed, lowering or raising sea-levels.
        There have been various studies which have attempted to trace and time these migrations out of Africa and across the world. The Americas are a very long way to walk from Africa, so seem to have been colonised much later than nearer localities. The dates of fossil sites show a succession of routes.

        There is a good presentation here of charts and maps, showing researched routes, human ancestry, and climate changes :-
        http://essayweb.net/history/ancient/prehistory.shtml

      • In reply to #3 by luivis7:

        In reply to #2 by Alan4discussion:

        Did other “human” equivalent species ever exist?

        I should have been more specific in my question. Are there fossil evidence in places like south/north america? why is that all humam species originated near africa?

        Human’s ape ancestors originated in Africa but earlier branches from the evolutionary tree did go to the Americas millions of years earlier. .

        Probably one ancestor monkey specie (instead of several different ones) arrived from Africa on the South American continent at around 25 to 40 million years ago. At that time South America was already an island continent and those founder monkeys could have arrived by island hopping or on vegetation rafts (as SA was still much closer to Africa or by way of North America by the same means). They evolved then in isolation and radiated into the many species which are presently known. The New World or platyrrhine monkeys differ from the living Old world or catyrrhine monkeys in several aspects. Their faces are flatter with shorter muzzles and their noses are much wider with the nostrils pointing to the side (and not downwards). They all are arboreal and have long prehensile tails which are used as a fifth limb (with the exception of some species) and aid enormously in climbing.

        If a monkey can hang from its tail,
        it is a New World Monkey.
        http://www.ecuador-travel.net/biodiversity.mammals.monkey.htm

        Capuchin Monkeys are probably the most intelligent of these, but none that we know of evolved into hominid-like creatures.

  2. Took me a while to get used to the idea that Evolution has no purpose or plan. Seems straight forward but most things in everyday life are put there for a reason and so is a bit of a jump to get used to the idea that Evolution is blind and purposeless. This is especially different from previous theories of life on earth which usually involved a super being creating it for some purpose. So, if I am correct, in understanding your term “how come” to mean “why” then the answer is for no reason at all, that is just the way it happened. If “how come” just means “how” then that is very awkward because you are asking How did Humans NOT evolve on other Continents to which there are a infinite number of possible answers ranging from a Dinosaur sneezing to geography, climate, predators, etc, etc. etc, etc.

  3. A separate species of hominids never developed outside of Africa. Each wave of migration, created pockets of hominids that went on to evolve some variation. The Denisonvians and Neanderthals. DNA charts can map the progression of humans as they expanded their range. The oldest humans are near the Kalahari Desert.

    Two matters that I find interesting is the current human populations with the highest percentage of Denisovian DNA are the Australian Aborigine and the Papua New Guinea peoples. 7%.

    The other interest is the Yamana natives of Terra Del Fuego. Their closest DNA relative is the Australian Aborigine. Their settlements predate the migration to the Americas via the Berring Straits post the last ice age. How did they get there? Across the Pacific? From Africa? An earlier Berring Strait migration? There is no evidence of a human population in North or South America prior to 13,000 years ago, except in Terra Del Fuego and Patagonia. Fascinating stuff.

    Why would you waste time on religion with stuff like this to think about.

  4. Well, why does there have to be an equivalent? Evolution doesn’t operate on terms of balance or fairness. It would be nice and symmetric if an American equivalent of hominids evolved alongside our African ancestors. But apparently chance and circumstances didn’t culminate in one over there, and that’s that.

  5. Believe it or not the most interesting part about humans is the fact that there are not other species of human currently alive, in fact almost every single other species alive today has some sort of pairing species that is very closely related. Take for example horses and donkeys they can even still mate and produce a mule, yet are differenct species because the mule is always sterile.

    In fact most of the Information we have may actually indicate that all of the other human types were actually murderd or out competed by our species of human. Mainly the descendants of austilopithicus (pardon my spelling) but there are indeed many types of humans including homo neanderthalis, homo habilis, homo erectus, any species that falls under the genus homo can be considered a human.

    Believe it or not the most enduring species of human was the neanderthal that survived for about 1.5 million years and debatably was more intelligent than we are, supposing that brain size and shape is an indication of intelligence. The only reason we survived (debatably but evidence does support ) is likely because our species was more group oriented and family oriented and that led to us being able to out compete the neanderthals by having a larger group size 150 compared to about 50. Or Perhaps because our species was simply more violent and racist and so we killed the other types of humans for being different. Take for example the story in the bible about the promised land where they saw the land was inhabitede by giant people and god comanded them to kill all of the giants and their children , could be representative of a genocidal god cult eliminating a tribe of homo neanderthalis.

  6. I think the question could have been framed like this: how come the marsupial line (for example) never produced anything with what we’d recognize as human-like intelligence? Why is it only mammals. Even whales and dolphins are our close cousins compared to kangaroos and such. Or birds, maybe big flightless ones that gained brain size and intelligence at the cost of flight.

    How strange the world would be had such creatures evolved. Would we be trading with them now, or would we have destroyed them all in genocidal warfare? Oh, maybe we did. That seems the commonly accepted reason for there being no other intelligent near-relations of ourselves surviving in on earth.

  7. Unless I’m missing something, none of the replies to OP so far, fascinating though they are, address the OP’s question.

    As I understand it, OP’s question is – given the fact of convergent evolution, why have we not found human-like species popping up independently (ie not via migration and speciation) all over the world?

    To answer that question, perhaps it helps to consider design by humans as a comparison. Let us consider that

    1) Some objects are much easier to invent than others. Given a few pieces of metal, most of us could put together something that functioned acceptably as a coat-hook. But few of us could fashion the metal into a working clock-mechanism.

    2) Some objects are much more obviously useful than others. For example, an object that carries water is clearly useful to a broader section of the population than a tool for repairing the tuning pegs of a harp.

    Applying these two ideas to evolution:

    1) It seems that it is relatively ‘easy’ for evolution to invent an eye. Presumably one reason for this is that the sequence of mutations required can come about reasonably reliably, and all the intermediates increase the organism’s fitness. However, human intelligence is phenomenally complex. It may well simply be so difficult for evolution to ‘invent’ or ‘find’ that it didn’t evolve before our ancestors evolved it.

    2) It may be that human intelligence would not actually be useful enough to justify its cost for most animals. I’m reminded of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the animals had trouble using farm implements because they only had trotters or paws etc. If we gave a sheep the intelligence of a human, perhaps it would still have trouble doing anything very useful with the extra information it had. Sure, it might make it a bit more successful, but would it make it so successful that it out-reproduced its fellow sheep who didn’t expend extra energy building and running brains, and who spent their energy procreating instead?

    There’s doubtless other factors, but those are two off the top of my head.

    TLDR: [Too Long, Didn’t Read] : There are numbers of constraints on evolution, among them the availability of the necessary mutation and cost/benefits. Could well be that the right trade-offs didn’t arise in other areas of the world until we evolved.

    • In reply to #13 by bw99:

      Unless I’m missing something, none of the replies to OP so far, fascinating though they are, address the OP’s question.

      As I understand it, OP’s question is – given the fact of convergent evolution, why have we not found human-like species popping up independently (ie not via migration and speciati…

      So large brains are expensive to build and only worth the cost in a specific set of circumstances.
      But even when those circumstances exist large brains may still not evolve for any number of arbitrary reasons because evolution is a blind and purposeless process.
      And also worth noting that Intelligence itself is a very clear example of convergent evolution with all animals having it to various degrees.

      • In reply to #14 by Catfish:

        But even when those circumstances exist large brains may still not evolve for any number of arbitrary reasons because evolution is a blind and purposeless process.

        I’m afraid I don’t understand your point here. I agree that evolution is blind and purposeless, but there are still paths that it is more likely to take than others, just as you could drop 100 balls on top of a hill and they’d tend to cluster in the paths they took, for example in gulleys. My point is that a brain of human sophistication may be much harder to evolve than something more simple like an eye.

        And also worth noting that Intelligence itself is a very clear example of convergent evolution with all animals having it to various degrees.

        If you clump all intelligence into one thing called ‘Intelligence’, then yes, it has evolved convergently several times. But there is a real sense in which human intelligence does certain things that other animal intelligences do not. One thing, for example, which the human brain does to a much greater extent is to record a huge number of events in its environment, find causal connections between them and then string causes together into long plans that can take us from blueprints to machines that can carry us to the moon. No other animal analyses its environment to such a deep extent nor affects the causal flow of events so deeply. Such sophisticated capabilities may be both hard for evolution to ‘find’ and only valuable enough to animals that for example have appendages that can manipulate tools.

        • In reply to #18 by bw99:

          In reply to #14 by Catfish:
          If you clump all intelligence into one thing called ‘Intelligence’, then yes, it has evolved convergently several times. But there is a real
          sense in which human intelligence does certain things that other animal intelligences do not.

          Yes I think the intelligence of our species is just a variation of the intelligence shown in all other animals.
          Am always amazed when looking further into biology how quickly “lower” animals like rats and such can learn?
          Recall reading about one experiment where rats are placed in a cage with 2 levers for delivering food. Both of these levers deliver a random food reward but one of them is set to “pay out” 60% of the time while the other is set to 40% payout. Rats very quickly notice this and simply keep their foot on the 60% lever all the time. This is the most intelligent thing to do. The funny thing is that humans will typically not do this. They will continue with to try and anticipate based on patterns and such like and get a lower reward than a rat in the same experiment!!
          Have read (listened) a few books on this topic and enjoyed The Accidental Mind by David J. Linden which started out with a pretty blunt explanation of what a “evolutionary kludge” the human mind is. Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works, The Language Instinct are also incredible works.
          Have you ever watched David Attenborough’s “life in the undergrowth” which reveals some incredible intelligence in the insect world.

          As you say we landed on the moon in 1968-1970 and see the Chinese have just got a lunar rover back up there recently but I think technology is also easily overrated too. Every version of the iPhone is a “revolution” and Samsung have about 4 revolutions a month so it easy to get the impression that technology is (and will) just keep sprouting hyper this and ultra that but actual production is a bit harder than advertising so I fear not.

    • In reply to #13 by bw99:

      Unless I’m missing something, none of the replies to OP so far, fascinating though they are, address the OP’s question.

      As I understand it, OP’s question is – given the fact of convergent evolution, why have we not found human-like species popping up independently (ie not via migration and speciati…

      This seems to be one of the responses that interprets my questions most accurately, or at least the way I thought it’d be interpreted, but I see now that it wasn’t as clear as I thought.

      The main reason of asking this question was that since we are aware of species such as Neanderthals, Denisovans, and us (homo sapiens), it actually seems that beings of intellectual level similar to ours are not only plausible because of evolution but inevitable (seeing how at some point there were in existence the 3 aforementioned species). If evolving into “smart” beings is so likely how come primates in the “New World” did not evolve to have higher intelligence. I would think that there had to be a really strong force/tendency from natural selection to “favor” those primates that did not get smarter. I’m not too familiar with the geography of the ancient “new world” but since most theories imply that we acquired our intelligence because of our ability to use tools, then probably the vast rain forest favored tree climbing primates. Therefore, “new world” primates were never able to use their upper extremities to create tools.

      • In reply to #15 by luivis7:

        The main reason of asking this question was that since we are aware of species such as Neanderthals, Denisovans, and us (homo sapiens), it actually seems that beings of intellectual level similar to ours are not only plausible because of evolution but inevitable (seeing how at some point there were in existence the 3 aforementioned species).

        The three sub-species are all “recently” descended as branches from a common ancestor, before recombining, so we really can’t draw any conclusions from that, apart from species branching where habitats diversify. Big brains are expensive to feed, so they are only an advantage where they can be effectively used to aid survival of their genes in a breeding population.

        If evolving into “smart” beings is so likely how come primates in the “New World” did not evolve to have higher intelligence. I would think that there had to be a really strong force/tendency from natural selection to “favor” those primates that did not get smarter. I’m not too familiar with the geography of the ancient “new world” but since most theories imply that we acquired our intelligence because of our ability to use tools,

        The Capuchin Monkeys I mentioned @9 are roughly equivalent to chimps in tool use.

        then probably the vast rain forest favored tree climbing primates. Therefore, “new world” primates were never able to use their upper extremities to create tools.

        I think the isolation of South America presented a more limited range and less diverse climatic changes to trigger evolutionary changes.

        In the absence of competition from the humans who are killing them and destroying their habitats, (as with chimps), Capuchins would probably go on evolving further tool use.

        Capuchin Monkey Nut Cracking Tool Use – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MgHBvp1uwk

        Not only do they learn to crack nuts, but they collect them and leave them to dry for a few days to make cracking easier as well as selecting suitable hammer-rocks.

        There is another article and discussion here, which looks at the mutation which triggered increased human intelligence.

        http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/12/26/in-the-human-brain-size-really-isn-t-everything#

      • In reply to #15 by luivis7:

        it actually seems that beings of intellectual level similar to ours are not only plausible because of evolution but inevitable (seeing how at some point there were in existence the 3 aforementioned species)

        While you are correct that there were several species that exhibited human intelligence, I believe that (I am not an expert on it) all of these species descended from the same single species. In other words, one species ‘invented’ intelligence, and then their descendants over time split into more species, all with that ancestral intelligence which had already been ‘invented’.

        So even though there were several species with human intelligence, this doesn’t mean that evolved several times. In fact, it seems like it only evolved once, so the multiple species can’t be taken as evidence that intelligence is easy to evolve.

        That’s my take on it, at least – perhaps someone can correct me if human intelligence (or at least the beginnings of human) is thought to have evolved convergently more than once..

        • In reply to #19 by bw99:

          In reply to #15 by luivis7:

          it actually seems that beings of intellectual level similar to ours are not only plausible because of evolution but inevitable (seeing how at some point there were in existence the 3 aforementioned species)

          While you are correct that there were several species that exhi…

          I’m sure you don’t think this anyway, but it’s important not to forget that evolution, especially that of higher intelligence, is a long slow path. Human intelligence did not evolve ‘once’ because that would denote a point in time where it suddenly arose. Human intelligence evolved over an incredibly long time, which included the evolution of our related species Neanderthals and Denisovans.

          To say that it only evolved once when it was present to some degree in these three species you are in fact claiming that it evolved before these three species diverged. Was Australopithecus as intelligent as a Neanderthal? I don’t think so.

          Higher intelligence may have made some headway before these species diverged but that was only a foundation, a fertile ground primed for further evolution of higher intelligence. Then as these species diverged they each evolved a higher intelligence, of their own, that they were suited to evolve.

          So it’s not clear cut, our lineage could be said to include several separate evolutionary leaps that later combined to some degree, as well as one unified line split several ways. It is a web, not a tree. It cannot be classed as ‘once’.

          • In reply to #21 by Seraphor:

            To say that it only evolved once when it was present to some degree in these three species you are in fact claiming that it evolved before these three species diverged. Was Australopithecus as intelligent as a Neanderthal? I don’t think so.

            Higher intelligence may have made some headway before these species diverged but that was only a foundation, a fertile ground primed for further evolution of higher intelligence. Then as these species diverged they each evolved a higher intelligence, of their own, that they were suited to evolve.

            Thanks for your clarifications. Yes, I totally agree and could have been more precise. I think there must have been some critical threshold that was crossed by a common ancestor, and that after that there was divergence or further evolution of intelligence in the different descendant species.

            I’m fascinated by what that critical threshold was. I suspect, as I mentioned in an earlier post, that it was the stringing together of observed causal relationships into long chains. Most animals require a more or less immediate genetic pay off to their learned behaviours – a rat will only learn a sequence of steps if there has been reward at every step. Humans, however, can imagine a sequence of 10 steps or even 100, all of them costly but with a large, justifying payoff at the end – for example spending hours manufacturing spears and spear-heads in order to catch large game days later.

  8. Its not an easy subject to learn but once you grasp the order of species and understand what conditions changed to caused the jumps in Human evolution its easier to comprehend….No human species has ever been discovered in the Americas until modern humans around 15,000 years ago.
    Ancient human species were small in number when they left Africa – Homo Habilus originated in Africa from Australopithecus who were still more ape like than human…. Ergaster evolved from Habilus and were probably able to leave Africa because the ice age dropped world sea level and allowed ancient humans to follow and hunt herds of herbivores migrating across Eurasia to China….That was around 2 million years ago.. when Homo Erectus evolved..

    A second wave of ancient humans left Africa around 1 million years ago – descendants of African Erectus probably driven again by ice age conditions changing and dropping sea level – Homo Antecessor made it directly to Europe, Britain by 800,000 years ago and later Eurasia….They were responsible for evolving into Heidelbergensis by around 600,000 years ago and may have a connection to Denislovans.
    By 300,000 years ago ….. Heidelbergensis spread East over Europe, Eurasia and perhaps South into Arabia giving rise to Neanderthal in Europe and Proto Sapien in Afro – Arabia along with other descendants of Antecessor and Erectus who still lived in Africa and Asia until modern Sapien left Africa for the third time around 70,000 years ago. Modern Sapiens spread prolifically and replaced all other human species…….. That all sounds so complex but it was far more complex before the species dots were joined…..DNA sequencing has brought more certainty about the lineage and heritage of Sapiens…Some Sapiens who left Africa around 70,000 year ago mated with Neanderthal, so some non African modern humans have as much as 4% Neanderthal DNA….Fascinating

  9. The question is really intriguing! I would like to push it a bit further.. why other animals that were on the planet for a longer period then us didn’t evolve intelligence(as we know it)? What do you think were the causes for such an amazing trait to sprout only in the ape brach? i think that other species had to cope with similar evolutionary pressures but why they didn’t have this feature?

    • In reply to #23 by fabio:

      The question is really intriguing! I would like to push it a bit further.. why other animals that were on the planet for a longer period then us didn’t evolve intelligence(as we know it)? What do you think were the causes for such an amazing trait to sprout only in the ape brach? i think that other…

      To say that there are animals that have been on earth longer than us is a gross misconception. Our genes, and those of every other extant species, have been on earth the longest. It could be that it has taken as long as it has for humans to evolve in order to reach our level of intelligence.

      However that said, If you’re referring to animals that have been in roughly their same form for longer than humans have been around in our current form, then the answer to that would be that they weren’t under the same evolutionary pressures as us, because they didn’t evolve further. Take sharks for instance, species that have barely changed in billions of years, the very fact that they haven’t changed shows that they never had the chance to evolve higher intelligence, they’ve been perfectly suited to their environment for billions of years, why change things?
      Any animals that were “around longer than humans” would necessarily be under very different evolutionary pressures. The pressures that lead to human evolution may well have been unique to us so far.

      This implies that time isn’t much of a factor in this other than the minimum necessary for dramatic change, so whether we’ve been here the longest or the shorted doesn’t mean anything, it’s the specific process, the specific pressures and the right basic materials (our ancestors primitive brains, opposable thumbs and social structures) that formed the recipe for our evolution. It could be that there are similar recipes out there that would produce similar results, involving other primates or birds or cephalopods. It’s just that the recipe isn’t a simple one and involves very specific conditions, and in all likeliness, our existence on this planet hinders such a recipe being cooked up for a second time.

      • Thanks for your answer! I enjoyed reading it!
        In reply to #24 by Seraphor:

        In reply to #23 by fabio:

        The question is really intriguing! I would like to push it a bit further.. why other animals that were on the planet for a longer period then us didn’t evolve intelligence(as we know it)? What do you think were the causes for such an amazing trait to sprout only in the ape…

    • In reply to #23 by fabio:

      The question is really intriguing! I would like to push it a bit further.. why other animals that were on the planet for a longer period then us didn’t evolve intelligence(as we know it)? What do you think were the causes for such an amazing trait to sprout only in the ape brach? i think that other species had to cope with similar evolutionary pressures but why they didn’t have this feature?

      As a computer programmer who has tried to build software models of human thought and emotion, it is clear to me that the sophistication of the computing machinery that yields human intelligence is staggeringly complex.

      I would not be at all surprised if it were discovered that the reason our level of intelligence took so long to evolve was simply the improbability of natural selection’s hill-climbing algorithm finding one of the few, narrow paths that lead to it.

      • In reply to #26 by bw99:
        >

        As a computer programmer who has tried to build software models of human thought and emotion, it is clear to me that the sophistication of the computing machinery that yields human intelligence is staggeringly complex.

        The system of diverse neurotransmitters and synapses means the system is much more complex than binary switching.

        Neuroscience For Kids – http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html

        • In reply to #27 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #26 by bw99:
          The system of diverse neurotransmitters and synapses means the system is much more complex than binary switching

          No it’s not. You can implement neural networks with a binary computer. People do it all the time in fact its the standard way to do it. Even the chips that get plugged into people’s nervous system are using standard Von Neumann architecture CPU chips (i.e., binary) to power things.

          • In reply to #28 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #27 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #26 by bw99:
            The system of diverse neurotransmitters and synapses means the system is much more complex than binary switching

            No it’s not. You can implement neural networks with a binary computer. People do it all the time in fact its the standard wa…

            Thank you both for your replies – two posters whose opinions I respect very much.

            I believe that almost the whole of the human brain’s functioning should be replicable on a silicon, binary computer. I agree with Red Dog that the functioning of neurons and synapses can be replicated satisfactorily on a binary computer (hopefully not putting words in your mouth). It’s not even that complicated. What is fiendishly complicated is getting the connections and the weightings between them right.

            The one exception to replicability for me is consciousness. I don’t know what consciousness is, but I have a hunch that it is not something that can be created merely from complex machinery operating, whether biological or in silicon. I suspect that it has something to do with electro-magnetic radiation, and something to do with multiple neurons firing in such a way as to create electro-magnetic waves. But I’ve really no idea.

            However, I suspect that consciousness is a red herring. There’s nothing that humans do, as far as I can see, that requires consciousness. Computers can process images, observe correlations and draw conclusions if not as well as humans, then very close to it. I suspect that consciousness will turn out to be part of one possible solution for creating human level intelligence, and that there are other possible solutions which require no consciousness (which happened not to evolve), just as you can run the windows operating system on your computer but it would work equally well (ok, better!) running a different one.

          • In reply to #29 by bw99:

            In reply to #28 by Red Dog:

            The system of diverse neurotransmitters and synapses means the system is much more complex than binary switching

            No it’s not. You can implement neural networks with a binary computer. People do it all the time…

            I agree with Red Dog that the functioning of neurons and synapses can be replicated satisfactorily on a binary computer (hopefully not putting words in your mouth). It’s not even that complicated. What is fiendishly complicated is getting the connections and the weightings between them right.

            That was my point in linking the diverse neurotransmitters with multiple reactions at neurons.

            The one exception to replicability for me is consciousness. I don’t know what consciousness is, but I have a hunch that it is not something that can be created merely from complex machinery operating, whether biological or in silicon. I suspect that it has something to do with electro-magnetic radiation, and something to do with multiple neurons firing in such a way as to create electro-magnetic waves. But I’ve really no idea.

            That is the honest answer. In other discussions theists rant on about consciousness, but can never produce a coherent definition without including the supernatural or whimsical speculations.

            However, I suspect that consciousness is a red herring.

            I regard it as one of the apologist gapologists last hiding places for gods.
            The real answers will be found in places like this:-

            http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/imaging/bigbrain-project-makes-terabyte-map-of-a-human-brain

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