An Economic Explanation For the Evolution Of Intelligence

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Epiphyte
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An Economic Explanation For the Evolution Of Intelligence

Post by Epiphyte » Sat Apr 30, 2016 12:49 pm

Here's my nutshell explanation that I just posted on Greg Stevens' blog entry... Evolution Q&A: Why did only humans become intelligent?

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You really did the theory of evolution justice! I, on the other hand, really suck at doing theories justice. Watch...

So... humans are exceptionally intelligent. What is exceptional intelligence good for? It's good for solving exceptionally hard problems. But why did early humans, out of all the animals, need to solve exceptionally hard problems? It's because out of all the animals, early humans had the greatest ability to (simultaneously) allocate the widest variety of resources. This exceptional ability was the result of having hands, arms and... walking upright.

With quadrupeds... all four limbs are primarily dedicated to allocating a single resource... the animal itself. But this specialization is a continuum that ranges from horses to raccoons to chimps. Horses obviously have four legs. All their limbs are quite specialized to allocating only the horse itself. None of the horse's limbs are remotely capable of allocating other resources. What about raccoons? Do they have four legs? Well, their front limbs are reasonably capable of allocating other resources. Chimps definitely do not have four legs. They have two legs and feet and two arms and hands. They are quite capable of allocating other resources with their arms and hands.

As front limbs become less dedicated to only allocating the animal itself and more generalized to allocating other resources... there's an increase in the total variety of resources that can be (simultaneously) allocated. This creates a more difficult/complex allocation problem.... which requires more brain power/storage to optimally solve. Well... a distinct advantage is given to exceptionally intelligent individuals.

Since you're fond of using lions as an example... let's compare them to zebras. It would seem that the front limbs of the lion aren't as specialized to self-allocation as the front limbs of the zebra are. Lions certainly use their front limbs to allocate themselves... but they also use their front limbs to allocate their prey. But perhaps the biggest difference is that the mouths of lions are quite capable of carrying/allocating resources (food, cubs, other?). Do zebras use their mouths to carry anything? Not so much? Therefore, lions are faced with more complex (allocation) problems than zebras.... and we should suspect that lions are more intelligent as a result.

So.... for lack of a better word... more "resourceful" body types put greater selection pressure on intelligence. Humans are the most intelligent animals because our body types are the most "resourceful".

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