On earth, there are humans that have been separated from each other for hundreds of years, living in isolation from each others cultures. Upon further examination into each different culture, you would find undertones that are common between them. cultures share common themes and items that all people require, although the appearance may be different.

The question

If there was another world like earth, same mass, gravity, etc.. the only thing different being the geography and position in space, and humans evolved on that planet just the same as us, would their culture be similar enough to things that we have on earth, that we would be able to recognize some of their culture even though it would be alien to us?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Thucydides, Hohmannfan, JDługosz, James Oct 12 '16 at 14:26

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you interested in the culture as a whole, or their great minds? It's easier to argue for convergence as one approaches some ideal, as great minds might. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Oct 11 '16 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ If humans evolved just the same as us, they'd have the exact same culture. You probably want to set a starting point: how long has it been since the divergence? Also, what do you mean by "recognize" and "some" in the last sentence? Clearly, if humans landed on their planet right now, they'd be able to figure out what the other humans were doing. But there are tools from our own planet used thousands of years ago and we really have no idea what they are. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Oct 12 '16 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ You can get some additional inspiration by examining the similarities and differences between Eurasian and American cultures pre-1400s. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Oct 12 '16 at 14:27

The short answer is "maybe", but I'm guessing you want a little more information.

Basically, there are two main driving factors to how a species will tackle the dangers of their environment:

Biology and Physical Aspect

Humans walk on two legs, we have two arms, 5 fingers/toes, etc. We also lack adequate cold weather protection (aka fur), so we make clothing for ourselves.

Another species with similar physiology will probably do the same. Thus, a bipedal species with a similar problem will also wear some sort of pants, shirts, jackets, or robes etc.

There's a finite number of ways in which one can fashion a practical item of clothing for a human-like being, so we're very likely to recognize said item for what it is (regardless of the fashion, a similar item must have at one point existed on Earth).

For a species which shares certain other attributes with us (for example, a desire to kill other people: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), other tools (weapons) may share a similarity with ours as well. If the species in question are actually humans (same physiology and psychology), then you can expect a large number of congruences.

  • $\begingroup$ Lots of human cultures haven't worn shirts & pants. Consider the robes of classical China, Roman togas, Greek chitons, loincloths & grass skirts in more tropical climes. Or even the number of women in today's western culture who wear skirts & dresses. Same goes for other cultural attributes: even on Earth the differences seem to be limited only by practicality. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 11 '16 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf - that was only an example, please don't get hung up on it. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Oct 11 '16 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not, I'm just trying to point out that there often can be many possible solutions to a problem, as with clothing. If there's nothing to single out one as significantly better than the rest, different (sub)cultures will adopt different ones. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 12 '16 at 5:27

I agree that the most likely answer is "maybe," and submit that it depends upon how much of our culture is based on our evolution. Websters is saying culture is "the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time." (Not the first definition, but the first one that's not mostly about art or petri dishes) Your question says that human cultures share common themes and items. To me, those are very different sets of nouns, with different levels of dependence on physical evolution.

Several different questions themselves:

As AndreiROM said, we are bipedal, two-armed, fingered and toed creatures; will other creatures with the same limbs and digits create the same objects - basic tools and clothes? At first blush this seems an obvious yes, but the more one considers the breadth of human history (all taking place after we were officially evolved into our current form) the less certain it appears: would the ancient Romans recognize our clothing as like unto theirs? Would tropical-dwelling people know what to do with the tools and clothes of arctic-dwelling people? The street clothes of modern American women are more scandalously revealing than the underwear of American women 150 years ago - the odds of being held in common with beings from a completely different planet seem low.

Creatures with forward-facing eyes and binocular vision are most likely predators of one stripe or another - what influence does being descended from a predator have on an intelligent species' culture? Is our warlike desire to kill others a result of a predatory base - on our world, a lot of predators do kill members of their own species - but is there a culture possible where killing members of one's own species is simply not a thing? Perhaps it would be enough to drive off competitors from an area; our murder might only translate as their "sent away." Perhaps not. We do have the sharp teeth, binocular vision, planning frontal lobe. When you have a hammer...

Due to our large brain size (if we do say so ourselves) we give birth to our young long before they are able to care for themselves. Would another race with a similar brain/body ratio (I'm now told it's an "encephalization quotient") develop similar parent/child/family social structures? This might be a toss-up. I've read a theory that says that the social nature of early primates selected for a brain large enough to manage all that socialization, suggesting that without being our kind of social, you don't get our kind of brain. Still, the concept of a family group seems deeply influenced by local area norms, and even Mars ain't in our local area exactly (much less Alpha Centauri or Deneb IV).

Overall, it certainly seems possible that there could be some things that might be recognizable, even familiar, but the chances that there was enough for a person to operate successfully in another planet's human culture... No, it's too great a stretch.


I think the fact that Adam is the great father of all human beings on earth, is the reason behind having similar culture. the world's population grew as more and more people were born but as all learned new things and adapted new cultures, the basics stayed the same. So i would say it depends what the culture of the first human being on that planet is like, it might not be any similar to us.

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    $\begingroup$ you should know there wasn't any one "first human" . We all didn't just pop into existence fully formed, it has taken millions of years for humans to become like we are today. Furthermore, it would take at least 32 people to populate the earth IF there was a single human which there wasnt $\endgroup$ – totally not rick sanchez Oct 11 '16 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding SE, Sid! It appears as though there's a disconnect of beliefs, here (evolution vs. Christian creationism). However, I do believe you have answered the question. As I understand it, you are basically arguing that disparate groups of humans would develop cultures that are based on their earliest ancestors, right? Whether you and @totallynotricksanchez agree on beliefs or not (looks like "not"), this answer still seems reasonable to me. My only suggestion would be to consider editing it to soften the belief requirement; you might find it will appeal to a broader audience. $\endgroup$ – type_outcast Oct 11 '16 at 17:05

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