4
$\begingroup$

There is a cold planet (maybe a moon of a gas giant) far out in a solar system.

It has a solid core and the surface is a thick layer of ice. Because of nuclear fission in the planet's core it is warm enough for there to be a huge ocean between the core and the ice.

Enough gases and minerals bubble up from the ocean bed to support multicellular life forms.

No light gets through the ice but bioluminescence exists.

Fire is not possible underwater therefore metallurgy and most technology would be unattainable.

The only electricity is from living things (e.g. electric eels).

Creatures can evolve 'hands' to manipulate things - intelligent crabs maybe.

The questions are:

  1. Would there be any evolutionary pressure to become more intelligent or would it just be like Earth's ocean for ever?
  2. If there were intelligent inhabitants who could speak and reason logically, could they invent any technology at all apart from simple things like using rocks to break open the shells of their prey.

    Would there be any point in forming laws and governments or studying philosophy?

    My guess is that on Earth it was the movement of life from the oceans onto the land that allowed all these things to happen. They just wouldn't happen on the planet Wetworld.

  3. Can anyone suggest a way that the intelligent inhabitants could create an advanced civilisation under these conditions?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There have been a number of questions asked already about developing intelligence and technology underwater, do any of those answer your question here? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jul 10 '15 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/1452/… $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jul 10 '15 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/3722/… $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jul 10 '15 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ There are more related questions as well, try doing some searches :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jul 10 '15 at 22:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks to all for your comments. I don't know how I missed the previous questions. I'll head over to them for further information. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Jul 11 '15 at 20:17
4
$\begingroup$

Would there be any evolutionary pressure to become more intelligent or would it just be like Earth's ocean for ever?

I think it is very likely for intelligent life to appear given the condition you mentioned. They will probably look like the very weird deep-ocean creatures we have on earth since they evolved without any light and in almost the same condition you evoked.

could they invent any technology at all apart from simple things like using rocks to break open the shells of their prey

We could think of water as a fluid and starting from this it's not much different from air. Without any generally produced light to see far away the creatures would have to rely on their own bio-luminescent light. Which is costly in term of energy so I guess this world would be very very dark and would evolve way slower than ours.

Anyway why wouldn't they have the possibility of inventing technology. They could start by finding ways to get durable light generators (even if it's implying slavery). You stipulated they have hands so they can manipulate objects and combine objects together which means they have access to tools and by extension to any tool which works in the water. They can have electricity I think if they invent a way to isolate metal from water but electricity in this world would be tremendously dangerous since they evolve in a highly conductive environment.

Would there be any point in forming laws and governments or studying philosophy?

I would say yes. As much as here. But I bet it would be much different. They would probably see the ice as we see the sky at the difference they could "touch it" by "flying to it" unless you have some creatures incapable of swimming and stuck on the "floor".

Can anyone suggest a way that the intelligent inhabitants could create an advanced civilisation under these conditions?

Prehistoric age

Fire & Light

First of all they would have to invent a way to produce energy like we did with fire. Fire is prohibited though so they certainly will use some chemical processes. If your crust is thermally active they will heavily rely on this. They need to build shelter, to produce food and to protect themselves from threats. This is totally achievable in the water.

They will produce their own light and it's very likely that slavery would be a consequence.

Communication

They would communicate through sound waves exactly like we do since sound evolves rapidly and efficiently through water. They could create a complex vocabulary base upon different wave lengths and "sounds" like dolphins and whales do.

Writing

They will have to invent writing so they can store information durably. This is not infeasible and they will start as we did: painting the walls of caverns.

Steel and coal

The difficult part is to forge steel. I don't think there would be any very efficient black-smith in this world and this a real problem but we could imagine they could have access a other options we do not know like chemical smiting.

Electricity

Like I said electricity is very hazardous in the water and I don't see how a water-proof computer would work but they might find a way - maybe by heating up water - to create little isolated gas-pockets in order to protect their appliances from the surrounding water. Those gas-pockets would very much look like our light-bulb. The environment will make electricity much more difficult I think but not impossible.

Science & religion

Science would not be very different than ours since it's not dependant on the context but is rather a theoretical concept. I think they would consider trying to understand what's beyond the ice crust like we tried to understand what's beyond the sky. They might have the same difficulty because of religious conflicts. They will be likely to consider the Ice Crust as a god and many rituals would emerge from this, like "touching the God upon our heads" as ritual for being a grown up.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There's not really much reason that they would need light. If there's little or no light, why would any creature evolve to detect it? I think it's more likely that they would evolve to use Sonar, or the electromagnetic sense that sharks have, or something else entirely. $\endgroup$ – ItsTimmy Jul 15 '15 at 20:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Without light no remote reading, therefore no use to writings and any sort of signal carried by light. This would limit evolution drastically in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Ephasme Jul 15 '15 at 22:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's a very anthropocentric way to think. Many highly developed animals don't use sight as a primary sense. Dolphins and Bats "see" with sonar, many organisms have whiskers for feeling their environment. Writing doesn't require light: just look at (or feel, rather) braille. $\endgroup$ – ItsTimmy Jul 15 '15 at 22:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ They would discover light somewhat like how we discovered radio waves and x rays: It would be a scientific discovery after they were already highly evolved. They might be able to use them how we use radio waves, depending on how well they penetrate water and ice. They wouldn't have any sensation of them, just like how we can't see radio waves. $\endgroup$ – ItsTimmy Jul 15 '15 at 22:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking, they might discover the entire electromagnetic spectrum at once, since they have no innate bias toward a certain segment of it, like we do. $\endgroup$ – ItsTimmy Jul 15 '15 at 22:21
0
$\begingroup$

The question is, as it always is with evolution, and pardon me for having a shorter answer than most people, "Why would they want to?"

Of course, the answer that comes to my mind is "to survive." Can this creature do better than other creatures in that they can't harm it and neither does anything else? Can it reproduce as much as it wants? Is there enough food? When all those questions have an answer of "yes," then it stops needing to evolve. Consider Angler fish. Top of the food chain, pretty hardy, don't need to change that much. If they don't need to write to get better, they won't. If they can evolve luminescence of their own, or whatever, and it's necessary, it will get done, but otherwise not. I'd say that it would be pretty darn similar to what we have here: If you're the best in your zone, stay that way.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's not entirely accurate. Did humans need to evolve the level of intelligence required to build rocket ships and youtube? Probably not. I don't think the feedback on evolution has the high level view you're placing on it. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Oct 28 '15 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ Have you any idea what you just wrote? You asked if we needed to learn to be intelligent enough to do intelligent things. $\endgroup$ – Caleb Woodman Nov 2 '15 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ I do, you've missed the point. You wrote "When all those questions have an answer of "yes," then it stops needing to evolve". With that logic, humans have "over-evolved" their intelligence. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Nov 3 '15 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Quite so. We've evolved a loss of control of evolution. $\endgroup$ – Caleb Woodman Nov 4 '15 at 0:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.