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An Alternate Human

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the better-than-the-original dept.

450

B0b Barker writes "What has six limbs, a prehensile tail, its brain in its chest, and reproductive organs in its mouth? The alternate human designed by biologist PZ Myers in Remaking Humanity, a story in Forbes.com's package on Reinvention. It may sound fantastic, but researchers are already working to re-build DNA, proteins and cells in a new field called synthetic biology, and we may have to meet these bug-eyed freaks sometime in our lifetime."

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450 comments

The problem of nerve impulse conduction (5, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165329)


From TFA:

There's no particular necessity that the brain would form in the head--that's again a product of convenience, since more sensory organs were located in the front of the animal, and induced an enlargement of the local part of the nervous system to cope with their input.

So let's meddle again, and instead put the brain somewhere near the middle of the animal. In that position, it can be better protected by the mass of bone and muscle in the chest, and also be more conveniently located relative to the heart and circulatory system. It changes our head from a bulbous housing for a crucial, delicate organ, all poised on a fragile stalk of a neck, to a flexible sensory and feeding apparatus.
In addition to convenience, there's a good reason the brain is located in the head...in close proximity to the major sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth). This placement minimizes the time lag of neural impulse conduction, by minimizing the necessary length of nerve connecting the sensory organs to the brain. For this reason, I wouldn't expect many species to evolve with a larger-than-necessary distance between their brain and their sensory organs (unless such creature evolved a much faster method of conducting nerve impulses than we possess).

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (1)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165399)

For this reason, I wouldn't expect many species to evolve with a larger-than-necessary distance between their brain and their sensory organs (unless such creature evolved a much faster method of conducting nerve impulses than we possess).

The sense of touch in my feet does not appear to be having a problem with distance. Maybe I just don't notice the latency, but I definately have sensory receptors all over the body that work just fine.

TW

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165456)

But it does make a difference. That's why some of your reflexes are controlled from your medula and not from your brain - so that they are both uncounscious AND faster.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (5, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165620)

Some of your reflexes are controlled from your spine as well. Very much faster than waiting for nerve impulses to travel up to your brain and back.

The problem of boot up the ass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165486)

"The sense of touch in my feet does not appear to be having a problem with distance. Maybe I just don't notice the latency, but I definately have sensory receptors all over the body that work just fine."

I'm happy to report the ones in the ass work just fine.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (3, Insightful)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165492)

The sense of touch in my feet does not appear to be having a problem with distance. Maybe I just don't notice the latency, but I definately have sensory receptors all over the body that work just fine.

The sense of touch in your feet also updates a helluva lot less frequently than your sense of sight.

It's one thing to have a bit of latency on a low-bandwidth sense like touch... it's another thing alltogether to have high latency on a high-bandwidth application like sight... especially when reflexes determine how long a creature survives.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165585)

Who cares about the sense of touch in your feet? All our major predator avoidance senses...Sight, Hearing, Smell...ALL of them, are proximate to the brain. Evolution clearly favors this (since all things that actually HAVE brains, have them right next to their major senses), and common sense would suggest that traveling three inches is faster than traveling 3 feet, given a constant velocity.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (4, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165597)

It does. In fact, unusually tall people often have trouble with their feet. They can't feel infections and things very well.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (3, Interesting)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165729)

Oh there's a latency, and you probably have experienced it, too. Think on the last time you stubbed your toe. You know that "oh shit" moment, the moment between when you know you've stubbed your toe, and the moment when the blinding pain makes you start hopping about and swearing? That moment begins when your sense of balance and motion tells you that your foot has stopped moving and ends when the nerve impulses from your toe reach your brain and are processed. It's not long, but it's plenty long enough to perceive conciously.

Now if the brain were in the chest cavity and the eyes were in the head, there would be a delay, and probably a lot more blind or one-eyed individuals. Ever see something like a tree branch or a rock speeding toward your eye, and blinked or ducked to save your vision? The increased delay would make that sort of reaction time impossible, and *pow* you just put your eye out!

I've always wondered if Niven's Puppeteers had this problem, and perhaps that's why they started to hide all the time.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165429)

It seems that the central-brained creature in TFA would, in most practical terms, resemble a mollusk. However, on this planet, invertebrates aren't the creatures that developed sentience....so what's the big deal with the author's contention, anyway?

The problem of temp regulation (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165444)

The brain stops working when the temp goes outside a certain range; most other organs in warm-blooded critters are less temperature-sensitive. Isolating the "special needs" organ is good design.

Re:The problem of temp regulation (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165463)

The brain stops working when the temp goes outside a certain range

Salaried employees aren't much better either.

Re:The problem of temp regulation (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165522)

Ack. You beat me to it. Remember your mom telling you to wear a hat in winter because you lose so much heat through your head? There's a reason for that. Cooking your brain is a bad idea.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (2, Interesting)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165467)

This placement minimizes the time lag of neural impulse conduction, by minimizing the necessary length of nerve connecting the sensory organs to the brain.

In addition to this, add that it puts the high-bandwidth inputs -- audio, and particularly vision -- on dedicated "buses" rather than trying to run them through the same system bus (spinal cord) that handles the low-bandwidth signals for muscles. And allows direct connection to the higher brain structures, rather than routing through all that antique brain-stem nonsense.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (5, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165584)

Wait a minute, are you questioning the scientific authority of an article in Forbes, the leading peer-reviewed, highly-respected scientific journal with a proven and unblemished history of unimpeachable accuracy?

Who was it that called Forbes something like a sort of corporate porn for middle management?

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (2, Insightful)

hazee (728152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165471)

I wonder if heat dissipation is a better reason. IIRC, the brain represents about 2% of your mass, but radiates about 20% of your body heat.

Whether that's a good thing (brain needs cooling because of all the circuitry in there), or a bad thing (unneccessary heat loss), I'll leave to the biologists. Also, the question of whether it might actually be more efficient to cool the brain in the chest due to liquid cooling.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (2, Interesting)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165508)

Speaking of neural wiring. One very important nerve, the vagus nerve, is very likely the most important nerve in the body. It runs to the heart, larynx, lungs, and internal organs yet doesn't go via the spinal cord, it runs directly from the brainstem down the neck. This means that no matter how much damage your spine suffers your automatic functions will still work (explaining why people can be total paraplegics but stay alive). This may be an evolutionary advantage but I find it hard to believe that anything that survived a severed spinal cord would live long enough to reproduce.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (1)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165529)

I would design something that incorporates the best of both worlds... The sensory input and auto-response can be incorporated into a small secondary brain in the cranium, while all the higher-order functions could be handled in the primary brain in the center of the body. Or you could take it even a step further and incorporate the basic/instinctive functions relative to each sensory organ into the organs themselves - so the eye would have its own neural network incorporated within or nearby.

As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that we (v1.0) humans have some distributed sensory response capacity outside the brain itself already.

As far as sensory input response goes, however, I don't think that most functions require the absolute smallest distance. For instance, it's been said that the groin response to sensory input (especially pain) is eight times faster than anywhere else in the body except the eyes, and the groin is hardly the organ closest to the brain...

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (1)

Corgha (60478) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165573)

For this reason, I wouldn't expect many species to evolve with a larger-than-necessary distance between their brain and their sensory organs (unless such creature evolved a much faster method of conducting nerve impulses than we possess).

Hate to dash your expectations, but our optic nerves don't exactly take the shortest route to the brain. They start at our eyeballs and go all the way around our head before connecting to the visual cortex in the back of the brain, switching left and right as they do it.

This is a larger-than-necessary distance -- if we flipped the brain back around, we could make it much shorter (and get rid of the left/right swap).

Or we could keep it about the same length and move our brain into our chests as the article proposes, or put the eyes on stalks or something. This is not to mention the fact that we have many, longer nerves that work just fine, and that there are animals with even longer optic nerves who see just fine. Length isn't the issue.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (2, Funny)

iolaus (704845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165596)

For this reason, I wouldn't expect many species to evolve with a larger-than-necessary distance between their brain and their sensory organs (unless such creature evolved a much faster method of conducting nerve impulses than we possess).

So you're saying they should add fiber-optic nerve pathways to this new super human... I like the way you think!

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165662)

Couple of other advantages with the brain/head: Better (and faster) cooling (brain in the chest with current body design would overheat too easily) and higher position for eyesight (see predators and food further away).

Yer brain is like yer gonads (2, Insightful)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165685)

It hangs out of your body to stay cool. Curiously they're both hairy to.

Re:The problem of nerve impulse conduction (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165686)

Yea, that was just another scientist talking out his ass. They are constantly trying to find problems with the way things are...personally I think our designed works pretty well. He is exactly the reason genetics and stem cell research need to be closely monitored.

I don't know about brain location (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165738)

But how about redundancy or backup? Kinda like having RAID or perhaps a multiple-processor setup. Currently the brain already has multiple segments, but they tend to be specializing areas. Why not have, for example, a secondary lump 'o' grey matter in an alternate location. This one could deal more directly with the organs in that area, and/or also act as backup when #1 goes offline.

I wonder how this would work for sleep as well. Take a 1h nap, brain #1 dumps to brain #2 and then offlines. If you've enough physical rest then brain #2 boots up for awhile and you can continue until it needs to rest and let #1 take over again.

reprod organs in mouth? (5, Funny)

eosp (885380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165348)

how's that a change?

Re:reprod organs in mouth? (3, Funny)

bartyboy (99076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165465)

I for one don't welcome our new penis-tongued overlords.

OK. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165351)

Sex organs in the head? Okay PZ, I don't care what anyone says. That's DEAD SEXY.

New meaning to old insults (0)

multiOSfreak (551711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165354)

reproductive organs in its mouth

I guess this will lend new meaning to the phrase "cock sucker".

Re:New meaning to old insults (1)

Borg453b (746808) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165646)

or "dickhead" for that matter. I seldom swear - but Ill probably never find a situation better suited for the term :)

I don't know, but... (2, Funny)

Buckler (732071) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165362)

...Having reproductive organs in the mouth would make my life far too complicated.

Re:I don't know, but... (1)

cmeans (81143) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165507)

Seems like it "kills two birds with one stone".

Re:I don't know, but... (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165657)

And when the females suffocate during birth...

That part of the body already does double duty. The guy in the article doesn't say anything about seperating the respritory and alimentary systems.

After spending a few minutes thinking about it there are dozens of drawbacks to some of the suggestions he makes. Attachment and fulcrum points for the additional limbs could be a major issue. Where do you put the musculature that is needed to move the arms in useful ways? A new world monkys tail works wonderful under tension, but sucks under compression. You can dangle from the bedroom cieling, but can't lift anything much heavier than a cup of juice.

And when we do meet them... (1)

meisenst (104896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165364)

I hope that the first thing out of our collective mouths is not "bug-eyed freaks"!

Re:And when we do meet them... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165402)

I hope that the first thing out of our collective mouths is not "bug-eyed freaks"!

Personally, I wish to welcome our Bug-Eyed Freak Overlords...

Re:And when we do meet them... (0)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165449)

Welcomed overlords or not, do they run linux? Could you imagine a beowulf cluster of the them?

Uh... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165368)

It may sound fantastic, but researchers are already working to re-build DNA, proteins and cells in a new field called synthetic biology, and we may have to meet these bug-eyed freaks sometime in our lifetime.
With that sentance structure "bug-eyed freaks" clearly refers to the subject; the researchers.

Giggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165370)

Did anyone else giggle a little bit when they read "reproductive organs in its mouth"

Re:Giggle (1)

lucky_me (151011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165480)

Yep. I guess this will got more attention than the article itselve...

So Does this Mean.... (3, Funny)

neuraljazz (307431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165684)

We will wear our underroos on our head?

This joke is too easy (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165374)

"reproductive organs in its mouth"?

I hate to break it to you but many, MANY people have done this already.

It's not that simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165445)

Reminds me of an old joke:

Two sperms are swimming along and one says to the other: "How much further to the ovaries?" The other one answers "A long way, son. We're just past the throat."

Is it just me, or does the 'Alternate Human' ... (5, Funny)

ColdCoffee (664886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165389)

...look suspiciously like the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Oh boy... (0, Flamebait)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165391)

Wait until the religious nuts learn of this one!

Seriously, though, I am all for science and genetic engineering and all that, but this is simply crazy. We are talking about a world where some people hate other's guts, simply because their skin color is not the same as theirs, where wackos cut other's throats simply because they are not worshipping the same deity*... And you want to release genetically re-engineered humans into society? Sheesh. Talk about premature.

(*) Even though 99.9999% of all gods are about as real as the Easter Bunny.

Re:Oh boy... (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165451)

Even though 99.9999% of all gods are about as real as the Easter Bunny

You're off by .0001% there, buddy. Next time don't do the calculation on an old Pentium.

Re:Oh boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165495)

God, or at least god-like powers, can often be found through a buffer overflow...

Re:Oh boy... (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165675)

What about the 0.0001% of Gods that do exist but aren't really Gods, surely someone's built a religion around a real person who wasn't actually a God .... Umm.... and called it Christianity.

Re:Oh boy... (0, Flamebait)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165472)

"where wackos cut other's throats simply because they are not worshipping the same deity*... "
Actually in this century you are far more likely to be killed for worshipping any deity than for not worshiping the right one. At least since 1945 atheists have racked up more murders than any religious group. Not that all atheists are mass murders however any humanitarian benefits that such belief has is not demonstrated by statistics.

http://www.genocidewatch.org/genocidetable2005.htm [genocidewatch.org]

Skewed statistics (1)

mengel (13619) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165574)

Ah, yes, "since 1945", conveniently avoiding Hitler's pseudo-Christian Holocaust, and the pseudo-Muslim genocide of Armenians in the early 1900's, etc.

(I use "pseudo-", above, to indicate that those people claimed they were adhering to that religion, regardless of the actual tenets of said religion...)

Re:Oh boy... (1)

DigitalWar (864198) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165714)

And what is that table supposed to demonstrate? Are we assuming that the people who perpetrated the crimes are all atheist? The genocides may not have been driven by religion, but that doesn't make the perpetrators atheists.

Re:Oh boy... (0, Flamebait)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165476)

Seriously, though, I am all for science and genetic engineering and all that, but this is simply crazy. We are talking about a world where some people hate other's guts, simply because their skin color is not the same as theirs, where wackos cut other's throats simply because they are not worshipping the same deity*... And you want to release genetically re-engineered humans into society? Sheesh. Talk about premature.

For more information (and a ripping good yarn to boot), read Heinlein's Friday [eternalnight.co.uk] , which carries his usual cogent thought on a society containing "Artificial Persons."

Re:Oh boy... (1)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165701)

I'm intrigued. Which one falls into the 0.0001%? Finally, someone that can tell me which diety is real! Oh wait, they all say that. Nevermind, keep your 0.0001% to yourself.

bug-eyed freaks (4, Funny)

Apostata (390629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165395)

"we may have to meet these bug-eyed freaks sometime in our lifetime"

Dare to dream. Personally, I say we drop everything and try to make the reception on cell phones better.

Octopus Date. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165406)

"What has six limbs, a prehensile tail, its brain in its chest, and reproductive organs in its mouth?"

My last date.

Re:Octopus Date. (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165452)

Well, that picture floating around the Internet of the woman with the "Wish these were brains" shirt on appears to meet two out of four...

Reproductive organs in its mouth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165410)

is this a story about cmdrtaco?

Bah at these useful applications... (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165424)

Bah at these useful applications! I want a tail, like the rest of my primate cousins! =D

Re:Bah at these useful applications... (1)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165587)

Bah at these useful applications! I want a tail, like the rest of my primate cousins! =D

You have one already. It's just vestigial. Some lucky buggers are born with a few inches down there... unfortunately, you just happened to get stuck with a stubby (aka tailbone).

Reproductive organs in its mouth (2, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165427)

I guess that precludes chilli and bony fish — just cold rice pudding and hot grits from now on!

Ha! (1)

radiumhahn (631215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165428)

"What has six limbs, a prehensile tail, its brain in its chest, and reproductive organs in its mouth? "

Now that's kinky!

Mindless dribble. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165439)

I have a feeling this was written to scare christians.

Why should it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165525)

Does not the Bible say, "Blessed are those with six limbs and reproductive organs in their mouths?"

Dribble . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165744)

. . . or did you mean "mindless drivel"?

Go rate something on Amazon.com; They love that word over there. Here, the word to beat to death is pedantic.

Way too easy. (1)

IainMH (176964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165443)

..and reproductive organs in its mouth?

Way too easy.

Behold!!!! (5, Funny)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165446)

I present you the five-assed monkey!

http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]

Re:Behold!!!! (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165608)

Look! A Three-Headed Monkey!

Other ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165453)

What other changes would people suggest, given complete freedom on the subject?


How about a new finger with an eyeball on it - for finding things in drawers.

Re:Other ideas (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165542)

drawers, knickers, that type of thing?

Why not improve (2, Interesting)

GreenPlastikMan (881184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165457)

Many anthropologists, socioligist, and biologists agree that humans have essentially stopped their own evolution, or at least slowed it to a crawl. Evolution is the long-term response of continuously having to adapt to your environment. However, because of civilization, the large majority of humanity simply adapts its environment around them instead.

That being said, wouldn't it make more sense to look at our evolutionary development and compare it with the rest of the animal kingdom. In this way, scientists might identify actual possible improvements which would simply be considered the evolution of homo sapiens (I shudder to think what would happen if I include the word homo in a sentence on Slashdot). For instance, if our legs bent inwards (backwards) at the knee, like say a stork's legs, we could run faster, jump higher, and sit down more easily.

The meddling in this article, and that is all it is, would in the end create not an alternate human but an altogether different and completely unrelated species.

Re:Why not improve (1)

Nijika (525558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165622)

Good point indeed. Nature has already provided some decent design ideas to embrace and extend. My thoughts echo yours and others on this; starting from scratch, we probably couldn't do much better than what our planet has already provided.

The design proposed by PZ Myers would probably highlight why it wasn't done that way if this new human ever manged to appear out of thin air.

Re:Why not improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165709)

Many anthropologists, socioligist, and biologists agree that humans have essentially stopped their own evolution, or at least slowed it to a crawl.

Can you point to any other mammals whose evolution is faster? Because of human proliferation, other animals have to had to adapt to rapidly (relatively) chaning environment, can you point out other higher order animals that show that this is related to environment vs some other factors?

We're just evolving differently (5, Interesting)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165737)

We haven't stopped it, we've only altered the rules. Finding food and escaping predators is no longer much of an evolutionary influence. There are quite a few new things which can cause us to fail to reproduce. Humans will likely evolve in time to become less susceptible to cancer and asthma caused by air pollution, more likely to survive car crash trauma, be more tolerant of lead and mercury, and less likely to suffer negative effects such as heart disease from overconsumption of food. Women whose genetics prevent birth control from working well are currently far more likely to reproduce than others, so we will likely see some tolerance in the general population (although the medications will likely change at a much faster rate than we can evolve around). This is all just speculation though, I'm not a biologist.

Ousters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165461)

Reminds me of the Ousters in Dan Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion series.

Do we ostracize them as per the Church in the series because they're not "real" humans, or do we accept them as the next stage in the evolution of humans?

Dynamic tension (5, Funny)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165488)

There's no particular necessity that the brain would form in the head

In modern humans the heart is positioned midway between the brain and the genitals, pumping blood to both.

Re:Dynamic tension (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165570)

Not only that, but notice the proximity of the eyes, ears, and nose - our most important sex organs - to the brain. A 3 inch nerve works a lot quicker than say, the 5' one from your brain to your big toe.

Re:Dynamic tension (1)

Peteee (945896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165733)

....our most important sex organs - to the brain. A 3 inch nerve....

Must...resist...joke...

Re:Dynamic tension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165614)

Empiric evidence has shown that in the case of us males it must be closer to the genitals.

Also... (1)

sevenoverzero (740419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165491)

Pharyngula [scienceblogs.com] , PZ Myers's blog, is good reading.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165616)

MOD PARENT UP - I can't believe the whole article talks about PZ Myers but doesn't once link to his website.

WTF? (2, Interesting)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165494)

I think I can cope with the extra limbs and pre-hensile tail. While certain evolutionary changes did reduce us to four-limbed tail-less creatures, I suppose there could be certain circumstances where at the least we could've kept the tail. The notions about reproduction and the brain are a bit odd.

As others have pointed out, the human brain would make most logical sense in the head. Being near the sensory organs is rather important to ensure fast response to external stimuli. Also, the chest cavity makes for a lousy place for brain storage. I guess the ribs and like could've evolved differently, but it just doesn't seem like an effective barrier. It is also mid-mass so your brain would get bounced around with just normal moving and sleeping. Not really a great idea. At least in the head it is fairly protected from that sort of stress.

The reproductive organs...well I just would not want to think about the trouble this would cause. Our mouths already have a confusing time with the eating and breathing. There are problems with this system mind you. Our bodies don't seem to like the idea of eating and breathing much at the same time. Also, I think I would rather have my less pleasant bodily functions sharing space with my reproductive organs than with place where I eat, drink and breath. Also, reproductive organs would have bad protection in your mouth. Besides the dangers of self mutilation (I mean imagine if this thing bit its own balls), the area is grossly exposed. The mouth is technically an external area that receives a great deal more bacteria then your lower regions.

For any major change to have occured in the evolutionary path, something major would have to happen to the environment. Environment played a huge roll in our evolutionary path, and I would like to think that genetics, natural selection and all that fun stuff worked together to produce the best form possible.

This guy scares me.... (3, Funny)

Offtopic (103557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165511)

Kyle: Watch out Stan, genetic engineers are crazy!!!

    South Park, Episode 105, An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig

Question (5, Funny)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165518)

"...reproductive organs in its mouth"

Whose?

4.20 (-1, Offtopic)

raphsodyingreen (964334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165519)

Sounds like 4.20 to me.

well, one reason to be glad (0, Flamebait)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165524)

that the religious right exists. so we don't "have to meet these bug-eyed freaks sometime in our lifetime."

I did *not* need to read that (1)

TheCreeep (794716) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165554)

FTA:
What has six limbs, a prehensile tail, its brain in its chest, and reproductive organs in its mouth?

So are you fond of alien fetish or what?

Games section (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165556)

I would put this post into the Games section. The article has very little to do with science.

A nice soft and warm fur coat like my dog's one. (1)

chris_sawtell (10326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165576)

And the ability to curl up to go to sleep. That's what I'd like.
The tail idea, or 3 hind legs, would be useful. So would more hands. 3 hind legs would mean that we wouldn't have to bother with chairs any more, because we'd have a built-in 3 legged stool to sit on.
I don't think much of the idea of only one eye in the head, and the brain in the chest, Isn't the optic nerve as short as it is because if it was made longer the bandwidth would be insufficient to see details properly. Only one eye means an end to binocular vision and the ability to judge distance properly. No thanks
Reproductive organs in the mouth? Wouldn't that give an entirely new meaning to the words "Blow Job"?

Re:A nice soft and warm fur coat like my dog's one (1)

swordfish666 (518548) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165719)

Wouldn't that give an entirely new meaning to the words "Blow Job"?
and "Skull Fuck"

Careful what you wish for! (2, Informative)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165739)

Fur is high maintenance. It gets all over, has to be brushed a lot, harbors parasites, and makes it hard to keep cool.

My dog has a brutal time in summer:

http://home.comcast.net/~stefan_jones/kira_grinnin g_lo.JPG [comcast.net]

Some dog owners just give their pups a full body trim in late spring.

I am not a Tichologist, but... (1)

xenotrout (680453) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165604)

This reminds me of Ijon Tichy's Twenty-first voyage (The Star Diaries, Stanislaw Lem).
With the ability to have any body form they want, people create all sorts of highly practical and highly impractical forms...and legislation, changing over time, to restrict the body forms people will take.
I don't think I really have a point...maybe it's Read Lem.
..."'Off with the head' (too small for them), 'Brain in the belly!' (more room there)"

Problems of design (2, Interesting)

Bob3141592 (225638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165617)

What has six limbs, a prehensile tail, its brain in its chest, and reproductive organs in its mouth? The alternate human designed by biologist PZ Myers

This goes to show the problem of trying to use any design on such complicated systems as biological organisms. Reproductive organs are relatively external in the male because their requirements are very different from the other organs like the heart and kidneys. In they female they also require unique capabilities. The jaw cannot be as functionally flexible as the pelvis and cervix is. What woman would want to deliver through her mouth? A brain in the chest might have some serious overheating problems on top of the wiring issues mentioned elsewhere. Etc...

Evolution has proven superbly effective at creating workable systems because any component which is serious suboptimal causes the extinction of the entire line that contains it. Nature is extremely wasteful in the trial and error process which is natural selection, but nature is also extremely prolific so those creatures that survive can thrive on the failure of others. No designed organism can compete with an organism that evolved, even if that evolved organism has some defects like vestigial organs or an enhanced tendancy towards cancer in the post reproductive years.

I find this one of the biggest defects in the whole (un)intelligent design argument, what I call (u)ID. Design is not a desirable process, it is actually undesirable. A designed creature is not at all to be considered better or more noble than one that wasn't designed. Quite the opposite, as the preposterous article shows. Designs are oversimplistic, inflexible, assume fixed conditions in the environment, and cannot function beyond their designed requirements specifications. For things as trivially simplistic as watches or cars or air traffic control systems, the process of designing the product may be profitable (though even there it can be difficult or impossible to achieve all goals), but not for something as complex as a living organism.

Re:Problems of design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165732)

For that matter, what woman would want to deliver through her vagina?

If I know the internet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165627)

Anyone wanna bet that there's already a well-developed community based on this creature as a sexual fetish?

Watch it! (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165631)

Your "bug-eyed freak" is my welcome overlord!

head as a radiator (1)

harshaw (3140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165649)

Doesn't the head function as a radiator in some capacity? I would think that having the brain internalized would necessitate another mechanism to cool that part of the body.

Instead of... (2, Funny)

gadago (769295) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165659)

bothering around with all this DNA stuff, why not just remove the bottom two ribs?? Then, we can our own reporductive organs in our mouth!

in its... mouth? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165670)

and reproductive organs in its mouth

May that'll lend some true to when fathers say kissing boys will end up getting you pregnant. On the other hand, bad breath would be pretty nasty.

Seriously though, while there are disadvantages to the current location (as mentioned in the article)... the mouth isn't exactly a 'clean' place either and I doubt it would be much better suited to the job.

Finally! (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165672)

An intelligent designer!

I am pissed off (2, Funny)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165674)

Why didn't I get the beta to Spore [spore.com] too?

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165697)

"What has six limbs, a prehensile tail, its brain in its chest, and reproductive organs in its mouth?"

Japanese Hentai demons
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