Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Are viruses responsible for convergent evolution?

Convergent evolution is the phenomenon that life on this planet follows a certain blueprint (eg, 2 arms/wings, a backbone, 2 legs, a head with ears, eyes, nose, mouth). Few multicellular lifeforms deviate from that blueprint. Still, an octopus has 8 arms/legs, 3 hearts, 9 brains and is therefore often viewed as “alien“.

That blueprint is a bit of a scientific mystery. Religions have a habit of using a deity as being (ultimately) responsible for evolution. However, even a deity needs tools for that purpose. In my view, viruses may be that tool. Their origin is still a mystery too. Some astrobiologists assume viruses may be extraterrestrial.

Biologists have concluded that viruses are responsible for evolution of lifeforms (eg, animals, humans, plants, trees). That conclusion has not prevented virologists from warning about the dangers of viruses (eg, speed of distribution or R-number). A virus without high-speed reproduction would, however, do a lousy job in evolution.

In our view, viruses are dead as – in simplified terms – they do not eat or poo. Their genetic composition is mostly unknown on our planet. A virus can “hibernate” for many thousands of years. Still, exposure to ultraviolet-C sunlight “kills” viruses. These facts might allow for interstellar (virus) travel (eg, comet).

During my Google search, I noticed an article with an intriguing title – What came first, cells or viruses? – and subtitle: “A biological enigma that goes to the heart of the origin of life”. If viruses would be extraterrestrial then this complex chicken-egg dilemma suddenly becomes simple.

Another obvious consequence would be that other planets in the Universe must harbour life too, depending on the ageing of their planet. The oldest known planet in our Universe, a.k.a. Methuselah, is 12.8 billion years compared to our 4.5 billion years. Hence, some lifeforms might be much more advanced, which would explain certain phenomena (eg, UFOs).

The blueprint above would suggest that more advanced lifeforms would still resemble us. After all, our Neanderthal ancestors resemble us too. Existing prehistoric drawings that suggest the existence of ancient astronauts do indeed picture people looking like us.

The above does not answer my title’s question. There are still missing pieces of the blueprint puzzle. Nevertheless, our species has the advantage of imagination and beliefs. We don’t need or want evidence to believe (eg, in Allah, God, Yahweh). Faith is all that matters.

Faith (2016) by Stevie Wonder featuring Ariana Grande
artist-1, artist-2, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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