Would it be possible for intelligent life to evolve under water?

Let say for example that you had a planet that was 100% covered in water. Would it be possible for intelligent life to evolve? When I say intelligent, I don't mean as intelligent as dolphins. I mean intelligent enough to create technology advanced enough to leave their planet and explore space.

One major requirement would be something like hands so they have the ability to learn to use tools and write, but unfortunately another one is fire so they could have an industrial revolution.

It's hard to imagine how an underwater race could progress any further than we were at the start of the industrial revolution. Can anyone think of any possible way that an intelligent race could have an industrial revolution under water, without the need for fire?

Update:

Hi everyone. Cheers guys, some good answers. Let me clarify to some people though;

There are many potential forms of energy under water. But you would only need electricity if you had the means to create technology that would be able to use it. In order to do that you need fire to melt metals into shapes and create alloys. Obviously there are many levels of intelligence, but I tried to define the level I am talking about in the first paragraph. I suppose I should have used the term "advanced life" instead of "intelligent life".

12 Answers

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  • Feythe
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Um, Dolphins? Orcas? Hello!

    ~edit~ KK, my bad, I didn't read your entire question, just the title. <grin>

  • suitti
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    There are octopi that are already pretty smart. Who knows what could happen in another billion years.

    Many sea animals, like sharks and eels sense or use electricity under water. So do we. If it's easier to build technology above the water, well then it's easier. But that would just mean it would take longer to develop under water. And make no mistake, it's the use of technology that interests you.

    So what might drive a species to technology? Well, with my octopi example, they might be encouraged to build shelters from predators. They then might be interested in tools to open shell fish or something to get at food sources. They then might want movable shelters. And so on. That's more or less how we did it.

    They won't have fire. Our technology and science has in many ways been 'fired up'. So they might investigate electricity first. Astronomy may take a long time.

    Lots of our solutions, like rockets, might seem unlikely for an underwater species. But rockets are pretty unlikely for us as well. And we have xray telescopes in space, despite the fact that we can't see xrays, and they don't make it to the ground naturally. I'd be hopeful that an underwater species could eventually make the transition.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    There are octopi that are already pretty smart. Who knows what could happen in another billion years. Many sea animals, like sharks and eels sense or use electricity under water. So do we. If it's easier to build technology above the water, well then it's easier. But that would just mean it would take longer to develop under water. And make no mistake, it's the use of technology that interests you. So what might drive a species to technology? Well, with my octopi example, they might be encouraged to build shelters from predators. They then might be interested in tools to open shell fish or something to get at food sources. They then might want movable shelters. And so on. That's more or less how we did it. They won't have fire. Our technology and science has in many ways been 'fired up'. So they might investigate electricity first. Astronomy may take a long time. Lots of our solutions, like rockets, might seem unlikely for an underwater species. But rockets are pretty unlikely for us as well. And we have xray telescopes in space, despite the fact that we can't see xrays, and they don't make it to the ground naturally. I'd be hopeful that an underwater species could eventually make the transition.

  • Irv S
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    I would suggest that you're not talking about 'life' or 'intelligence'

    as much as about the kind of society and civilization an intelligent

    life form so situated would develop.

    (Cephalopods have been observed to build simple shelters.

    Having had, (for a too-short time), the opportunity to interact with

    a dolphin, (tursiops), I'm convinced that their intelligence is at least

    comparable with our own, but structured for interaction rather than

    mechanics.

    I'm convinced that a totally water borne species would not develop

    a technological civilization until driven to it by territorial conflict.

    That is the only impulse that could drive such an endeavor under

    such conditions.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The simple answer is: Yes

    While it is true that without fire their technology may never get very far but we are not talking about technology only intelligence.

    Intelligence, even in our case, was a survival trait. We then used that intelligence to utilize fire, nuclear energy etc.

    If there was sufficient evolutionary pressure that required a species to develop intelligence in order to survive, regardless of wether it ever developed a technology, it is certainly possible.

    As a side note, sure they may not have fire but what about vulcanic vents, ocean currents, biological energy, chemical energy? There are certainly enough energy sources without relying on fire. As far as "hands" go, what about octopus, they are intelligent and they can manipulate tools very well.

  • 1 decade ago

    Because of the physiological restrictions of water-dwelling creatures, I would say not... Hands, or grapplers of some sort, probably *could* be evolved underwater (if there was a need), but my own opinion is that fins would be the most useful 'tool' for any creature.

    And, your other point about fire - that's a big one. While there could be some very complicated and sophisticated creatures in the ocean, they'd be at an extreme disadvantage in progress because they couldn't really use machines relying on external power sources.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Fire was beneficial to us, but there is no law that says you need fire in particular to develop technology.

    I don't think water in itself precludes the development of writing or other technologies. You can think of the gas atmosphere of earth as a form of liquid.

    What is different is dolphins have fins and not hands. If you could have an intelligent sea creature develop that had hand-like appendages to manipulate things, then I think you could see them developing technology even though they live under water.

    Dolphins prove that you can have intelligent creatures evolve in water. Crabs and other creatures prove you can have creatures evolve under water that have some kind of hand-like appendage. So, all that would be needed is a creature with a crab like body getting smart. Not out of the realm of possibility.

    David

    http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    because fire was a major step in our evolution dosnt mean it will be true for an alien civilization. even it you take fire for an absolute must for evolution there could be some similar alternative like if the planet does have a very hot core there could be lava/magma wells that could used. for us on earth we historically needed water for industrial development and industry was the strongest alongside seas and rivers for an alien civilization it might be just the opposite water is ubiquitous ans fire has to be uses on site. even if there is no such think as magma /lava wells i can think of "underwater fires" you could use light as a laser and melt/burn things chemical reaction that also take place under water like Greek fire and underwater melding could be used as fires. so in general yes i think its possible......

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Fire is only a factor. The bottom of the ocean has many usable sources of energy that are impractical for us but not for the hypothetical marine intelligent race.

    Just to mention two, currents (that can be used as we use wind) and deep sea geysers (hydrotermal vents).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    an intelligent aquatic race would have very different technology - if they had any technology at all.

    for a good example of how this might work, please read second dawn by arthur c. clarke. the main characters are a highly intelligent race who never developed technology bcuz they had hooves instead of hands.

  • 1 decade ago

    they could use water currents, other underwater creatures to make energy like how we use animals to pull and move things to power something up. so yeah its possible

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