Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization

First Edition

© 1975-1979, 2008 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, Sacramento, CA, 1979; http://www.xenology.info/Xeno.htm


3.1.1  Extraterrestrial Intervention in Biological Evolution

The evidence that man’s biogenetic evolution has been interfered with by aliens is scanty and highly questionable. Perhaps one of the earliest mythological accounts of possible biological experimentation on apes is mentioned in the Ramayama, the second of the great Indian epic poems. Hanuman the monkey god was supposedly conceived when Shivar (a dweller in the heavens) gave Anjana (an Earth ape) a sacred cake to eat. The monkey god thus born was super-strong and highly intelligent.310 But despite the fact that Hanuman was followed by legions of other ape-heroes (Sugriva, Brahaspati, Bali, Tara and Gandha, among others), there was never any suggestion that these were the biological precursors of men.

Greek mythology is full of tales of "interplanetary adultery." Zeus, king of the gods, had scores of human concubines and was reportedly responsible for many rapes of human females. Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes and Ares all had affairs with mere mortals. Yet most biologists today agree that a successful sexual mating between two species from different planets is improbable at best. Although lions and tigers have been crossbred in captivity (to make "ligers"), such is not the rule. Even Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man, two species of humans, are not believed to have been interfertile.

Benevolent ETs would probably have come to Earth, not to hybridize or perpetuate their own genome, but to improve ours. This could easily be done using advanced genetic engineering to accelerate the normal evolutionary processes. The native myths of the Marquesas Islands, Hawaii, Indonesia and Tahiti all tell that the first men on Earth were given birth to by a celestial couple.310 If one wanted to do this sort of thing and a humanoid was the desired end-product, it might make sense to modify some of the local primate stock. Marmosets and many other monkeys have the same number of chromosomes as man; gorillas, chimps and orangutans have only two extra.

Erich von Daniken has suggested something along these lines, although his factual support is notoriously weak. He claims in his several books that man is an artificial mutation, separated from the ape stock long ago by alien intervention.1221 In Chariots of the Gods we find:

Dim ages ago an unknown spaceship discovered our planet. The crew of the ship soon found out that the earth had all the prerequisites for intelligent life to develop. The spacemen artificially fertilized some human female members of {an advanced primate species}

They repeated their breeding experiment several times until they produced a creature intelligent enough to have the rules of society imparted to it. The space travelers destroyed the unsuccessful specimens, {fearing that men} might retrogress and mate with animals again.1326

Unfortunately, no solid verifiable facts are adduced in favor of the hypothesis.

This area of xenoarchaeology has been severely handicapped by a dearth of qualified researchers and an excessive quantity of unusually poor scholarship.1948 A case in point is Mankind -- Child of the Stars by Max H. Flindt and Otto O. Binder.1215 Their proposal, simply stated, is that we are the hybridized descendants of intelligent extraterrestrials. Apparently following Larry Niven's excellent science fiction novel Protector first published seven years earlier,1909 Flindt and Binder assert that the human race is merely a colony founded and maintained -- and later abandoned -- by beings from another world. Decades of detailed paleontological and evolutionary data are casually swept aside: We are asked to believe that man could not have evolved fast enough on Earth. Hence the "starmen" must be responsible.

Supposedly, humans are sexier than other animals because the ETs were downright lecherous. Not only did the starmen bring their own genes to Earth for our benefit, but "the primate line was imported"1215 as well. As if this were not enough, the authors of Mankind attribute the evolution of hundreds of species of food animals and other extinct creatures to the aliens’ kindly influence. Again, factual support is totally nonexistent.

But serious xenoarchaeological theories are being pursued by competent scientists in spite of the deluge of popularized pseudoscience on the subject. Ronald Bracewell, a respected Stanford University radioastronomer, has proposed that it would be a fine gesture for a passing extraterrestrial to have seeded our then-sterile planet, billions of years ago, with the first microorganisms that would later lead to the evolution of intelligent life.80

A less glamorous version of this conception of the origin of life is widely known as the Gold Garbage Theory. According to Dr. Thomas Gold of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University, life here might have spread from a pile of waste products accidentally dumped on a barren Earth long ago.22,1910 A. G. Cairns-Smith, a well-known biochemist at the University of Glasgow in Great Britain, suggests that our original ancestors might have had alien biochemistries and has presented some (as yet nonconclusive) evidence to support this possibility.1460

But the best-known of the "earth-seeding" ideas has come from two of the world’s most eminent molecular biologists: Francis Crick at Cambridge, England and Leslie Orgel at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California. According to their theory, first presented in 1971 at the joint Soviet-American Byurakan CETI conference, organisms may have been directly transmitted to the Earth by intelligent space beings -- deliberately.1283 This "directed panspermia," as they call it, could be accomplished simply by sending out unmanned space probes bearing a ton or so of assorted microorganisms capable of infecting a sterile host planet.

Crick and Orgel cite as evidence the inordinately large role of the element molybdenum in terrestrial biochemistry, peculiar because it is such a rare substance. Chromium and nickel, which are 10 and 100 times more abundant in the environment, respectively, are relatively unimportant in biochemistry. The theory has been debated extensively in the literature without conclusion.1294,1295,1296,1911,2100


Last updated on 6 December 2008