Extraterrestrial beings are usually portrayed as odd looking entities characterized by elongated limbs and big eyes, but a new book written by a leading evolutionary biologist says that if aliens exist, they would actually look very much like humans.

Simon Conway Morris from the University of Cambridge claims that the odds of alien life evolving in others parts of the universe are high and that extraterrestrials that look like humans should have evolved on at least some of the Earth-like planets that astronomers have already discovered.

In his book The Runes of Evolution, which was published on July 2, Morris discussed a theory known as convergence, which proposes that different species will independently evolve similar features and that this does not only take place on Earth.

Morris argues that convergence is demonstrated at every point of evolutionary history from early cells to the emergence of tissues, body systems and the ability to make tools.

The professor also said that it follows that the animal and plant life on other extraterrestrial worlds that are able to support life would resemble those found on Earth. Morris said sophisticated plants will look like flower and that there are only a few ways for creatures like shark, flies and warm blooded animals to develop. Thus, ETs would likely possess limbs, a head and they can think intelligently like humans on Earth.

"The things which we regard as most important, ie cognitive sophistication, large brains, intelligence, tool making, are also convergent," Morris said. "Therefore, in principal, other Earth-like planets should very much end up with the same sort of arrangement."

Morris said that evolution is not a random process; he added that if evolutionary processes are at broadly predictable, what applies on our planet will likely apply elsewhere in the universe.

Morris, who said that he is surprised that aliens that look and sound like humans are not yet discovered given the vastness of the universe, thinks that intelligent life is going to appear in any habitable zone that does not freeze or boil.

"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," Morris said.

Photo: Kevin Dooley | Flickr

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