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Ltryptophan's avatar

What sort of discussion can we have about species identification regarding human phenotypes?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9102 points ) August 21st, 2011

Take mockingbirds, for example, they all look nearly identical. Sure with very careful study of their individualities you can tell they are all not clones, but from ten paces…It’s tough.

This seems to be the same with many other species, with little exception.

One exception I see is humanity. We are all very different. Fathers don’t exactly look like sons…etc.

Now, I know I am treading on delicate ground, but it is just an observation.

Some of the species that I notice have similar issues are the domesticated animals.

Are our physical differences a result of some sort of domestication?

Help.

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26 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think that if you asked a mockingbird, he would say that we all looked alike and would be able to tell the members of his species apart quite easily.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

I think men and women originally looked very similar, but are becoming more and more distinct over time due to sexual selection.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@marinelife that’s cute to say, but I don’t think you are taking my question seriously.

Are you saying that having arms legs and walking upright are the only features that the bird would notice?

Clearly we come in many shapes, sizes, colors, etc. Yet we are still able to successfully have children and share very compatible parts, which certainly makes us a species. This is not a race loaded question. No matter what race you are I think you are human.

The question I have is what is this diaspora of phenotypes all about? Are there good wild examples of this happening in the parts of nature Man hasn’t fiddled with? Are species that look nearly identical more successful?

Clearly, Isolated populations start to take on the characteristics I am describing. Indians look Indian, etc.

I guess the simple answer is that our migratory patterns take us into environments with a spectrum of people from many places. So would Americans eventually start to look like Native Americans after a few thousand years?

rebbel's avatar

I think it has to do with scale.
Humans are big, mockingbirds are small(er), and ants even more so.
Ants all look alike (within one species), in mockingbirds you probably can see some differences when you study them a bit close up (a meter or so) and in ants you might too, if you put them under a microscope.
Take dogs and cats, who are inbetween mockingbirds and humans, size wise…, I see differences in all cats that I come across

Ltryptophan's avatar

@rebbel right, I agree about cats, but they’re domesticated. So show me an example of an individual species with a diverse phenotype like us, and our domesticated animals.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Maybe the future of humanity is raceless no matterwhat….

As the world becomes more global, and climates stop deciding which genes are successful, maybe within some number of generations men will peacefully develop a new “look” through normal reproduction, not tyranny.

Probably we’ll look Asian!

everephebe's avatar

What about dogs yo?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Ltryptophan: What’s not serious about @marinelife‘s answer? It’s true. Humans look super variant from one another because we have to be able to notice the differences. It wouldn’t be very advantageous if we couldn’t tell which children were ours to take care of them or which mate was ours to give a large portion of our gathered or hunted food to. It’s the same with other animals. It’s not as if multiple mockingbirds build nests in one tree and they all keep landing in each other’s nests because they can’t tell which birds belong where.

Just out of curiosity, why did you dismiss @marinelife‘s answer out of hand?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@KatawaGrey A large group of multi-ethnic people look different. Some are black, white, yellow, brown. That’s that. Mockingbirds are gray. There aren’t a few ethnic groups within the mockingbird species. Don’t try to start nothin’

everephebe's avatar

@Ltryptophan Yes, and what about doggies? They are all the same species.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@everphebe let sleepin doggies lie.

everephebe's avatar

@Ltryptophan I believe the genetic variance of Canis lupus familiaris exceeds that of our own, (on top of which) the physical differences of dogs are much more pronounced than humans.
P.S. Everyone leaves out the e in my real name too, it’s annoying. It’s ever-E-phebe. And fuck Harry S. :D Now I’ll go to sleep.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Ltryptophan: Not trying to start anything. Humans were all once a shade of brown, now we are not. Didn’t mean we all looked the same, it just meant we were all the same color. It’s the same with birds. Just because you can’t tell the difference between them doesn’t mean there’s no variance, it just means that there’s no variance that you can see.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @marinelife in that mockingbirds would probably notice very minor difference of other mockingbirds that we would not, especially at first glance. They have done studies that caucasian people actually do have more trouble differentiating black people or Asian people, this is true for each group relating to another group. This type of research has been done related to people being eye witnesses to crimes.

Dogs are probably the most varied. They can by itty bitty mini or big huge. Various types of fur. So many different colors. It is almost odd that we can figure out so simply they are all dogs when they look so different. Humans are not as varied as dogs in my opinion.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I am not arguing that mockingbirds all are absolutely identical. It’s completely irrelevant. I am only arguing that they look VERY similar. Whereas, humans and cats and dogs and other domesticated animals like chickens and cows…tend to have a much broader spectrum within the same species!

I hope you all see that this is what I am saying.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Humans were more prone to change environments permanently (not just migrate) which caused major changes in various physical aspects.Humans are also primarily visually oriented as we have lost a great deal of aural and olfactory acuity over the ages so easily visually differentiated features became important for individual identification. Both of those factors contribute significantly to differences in appearance.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the problem is you chose mockingbirds rather than birds. Birds compare to Humans and canines and felines. Mockingbirds might compare to Chinese people (chosen randomly could be any group) tabby cats, and golden retrievers.

CheckDavid's avatar

@JLeslie , I think that Birds compare to Mammals…. not to Humans

JLeslie's avatar

@CheckDavid Humans are mammals. But, I am not dismissing your point. I need to think about it. I think the comparisons are not simple. The various categories living things can be classified as is complex.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: Perhaps small, seed-eating birds could be compared to humans, mockingbirds could be compared to Chinese people and birds could be compared to mammals. I understand what you’re saying.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@JLeslie I think you are beginning to see what I’m saying. Mockingbirds cannot repro with any old bird. Humans, cats, dogs are all compatible. Even great danes and chihuahuas.

JLeslie's avatar

@Ltryptophan Are cats able to reproduce with any feline? The dog thing has always been interesting to me because they can be so incredibly varied. But, can they reproduce with any canine? Wolf? Fox?

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Hmmm, but with the point that @Ltryptophan just made it is different because Chinese people can reproduce with caucasian people, but it seems the mockingbird can only mate with mockingbirds. Tricky. I am not very well versed on these things. I am just pulling from primary and secondary school science, mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, etc.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@JLeslie all domestic cats are one species, all domestic dogs ditto. ttbomk

JLeslie's avatar

@Ltryptophan I heard somewhere they have combined some sort of wild cat with a domestic cat. Not sure if it is infetile like most mules?

JLeslie's avatar

Check this out. There are several other felines being crossbred wild and domestic. I don’t like it. I still don’t know if they are naturally having sex? Or, how it is done.

I am guessing human beings are not screwing around with the mockingbirds yet. Sigh. We have affected chickens, they can barely stand up now some of them, because we breed them to have larger breasts.

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