What might an alien creature really look like?


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Profile Andy Westcott
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Message 433175 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 19:04:03 UTC
Last modified: 8 Oct 2006, 19:04:49 UTC

What might an alien creature really look like?
I've occasionally pondered this. Aliens are often depicted in sci-fi as essentially humanoid in appearance, with a head on top and a couple of legs.

I wonder if in fact they might look like this? After all, given the idea of panspermia, it is possible that DNA on an alien planet could well be related to ours.

Take a dinosaur for example. No-one on first thought would consider a T-Rex to be anything like a human, but actually the similarites are striking: Two hind legs, two fore legs. Ribs, backbone, even a radius and ulna (forearm bones.)

The only life forms which really bear no similarites with us are plants.

Just what form do you lot think an intelligent alien might take - from a scientific view?
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Message 433177 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 19:14:38 UTC
Last modified: 8 Oct 2006, 19:15:28 UTC

If I let my imagination free, I'd take the theory from Space Odissey, I think they might be made of some energy, maybe there is a whole new world made of Dark matter and dark energy that we haven't discovered yet.

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Message 433188 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 19:36:15 UTC

I think it all depends on where they live (or at least where they originated in the not too far evolutinary past).

If they came from a world completely covered in an ocean, they could easily be multi-tentacled. If they came from a world that had very few livable flat surfaces, lots of cliff faces say, they may have wings. It's difficult to say.

I agree with the panspermia hypothesis, all of the building blocks of life are already there, see List of molecules in interstellar space.
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Message 433228 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 21:05:39 UTC
Last modified: 8 Oct 2006, 21:06:04 UTC

Ever seen Alien Apocalypse with Bruce Campbell? The aliens were insects.

I would say that they almost have to be bipedal. This is assuming that 4 legs would be a common trait among competing creatures. Bipedal, however it originates, would be be required to free up two limbs in order to create and use tools. This alone would make them appear "humanoid". Common developments would be traits designed to gather information about the environment which would lead to ears, eyes, touch. These types of traits could manifest quite differently in isolated systems. Like mentioning tenticles, humans (typically) do have 10 digits would could be considered specialized tenticles. Commonalities then would be bipedal and sensory preceptions with a central nervous system which variations within that framework.
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Message 433230 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 21:08:16 UTC
Last modified: 8 Oct 2006, 21:18:32 UTC

I think that if water and complex carbon is the only path to life, then "alien life" may be very similiar to Earth life. It'll have different traits, to be sure, since it is from another environment, but I think, generally, it would be very similiar.

Laws are universal. The laws that led to life on Earth would be the same elsewhere. We've been done this path before. We thought the Earth was the center of the universe, only to find out it wasn't. We thought only our solar system had planets, only to find out that isn't true. We thought water was rare only to Earth, only to find out that isn't true. It goes on and on. Life could follow the same pattern here; we aren't special.

I don't picture the space monsters depicted in the films of the 1950's, mainly because such structures are terribly inefficient.

Intelligence?

Now thats more difficult to imagine. I think available resources plays a key role in the evolution of intelligence. Its a delicate, if not strange, balance.

Too much resources, like the early lush Earth, and "stupid" life like the dinosaurs are free to run amock without check. Too little resources and everything dies. Somewhere inbetween, competition creates the need for intelligence. Had the Earth not got smacked by the comet or asteroid that is thought to killed off Dino and his friends, we probably wouldn't be here today.

Predators are smarter than herbivores because it doesn't take too much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf.
(I forget where I heard or read that.)

In a way, hasn't "alien life" already been discovered? Didn't it take several attempts for life to start getting a foothold on Earth? Weren't there organisms from very early Earth, that aren't on the same evolution path as anything today? Didn't they live on a Earth that was so different that they couldn't survive here today, nor could anything today survive in their world? If so, I consider them "alien"...

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Message 433235 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 21:20:42 UTC

Here's an interesting set of links to discussions that others have had on this topic: Life In Space.

Some food for thought for our own discussion perhaps.
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Message 433239 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 21:27:11 UTC - in response to Message 433230.
Last modified: 8 Oct 2006, 21:31:26 UTC

Predators are smarter than herbivores because it doesn't take too much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf.
(I forget where I heard or read that.)


Robert J. Sawyer quoted in Calculating God. The Quote
"'I wonder if violence is innate in all intelligent species,' I said. 'Evolution is driven by struggles for dominance. I've heard it suggested that no herbivore could ever develop intelligence because it doesn't take cunning to sneak up on a leaf.' 'It does create an odd dynamic,' said Hollus. 'Violence is required for intelligence, intelligence gives rise to the ability to destroy one's species, and only through intelligence can one overcome the violence that gave rise to that intelligence.' 'We'd call that a Catch-22,' I said."

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Message 433242 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 21:30:18 UTC

Here an alien skull,honest.

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Message 433259 - Posted: 8 Oct 2006, 22:21:46 UTC

Doc, that skull look's very like YOU.
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Message 433285 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 0:11:50 UTC - in response to Message 433259.

Doc, that skull look's very like YOU.

Koz its a relative...
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Message 433310 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 1:23:18 UTC - in response to Message 433230.

Predators are smarter than herbivores because it doesn't take too much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf.
(I forget where I heard or read that.)


I'm pretty sure that's from Larry Niven's _Known Space_ books. I can't remember for sure which one, maybe one of the _Ringworld_ books.

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Message 433323 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 1:56:00 UTC - in response to Message 433310.

Predators are smarter than herbivores because it doesn't take too much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf.
(I forget where I heard or read that.)


I'm pretty sure that's from Larry Niven's _Known Space_ books. I can't remember for sure which one, maybe one of the _Ringworld_ books.


I don't remember which book/story it is either, but definitely Niven's. Louis Wu comparing the Kzin to the Puppeteers, I believe.
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Message 433408 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 8:00:10 UTC

Take a dinosaur for example. No-one on first thought would consider a T-Rex to be anything like a human, but actually the similarites are striking: Two hind legs, two fore legs. Ribs, backbone, even a radius and ulna (forearm bones.)


That's because the ORIGINAL vertebrate, from which T Rex and homo sapiens both evolved, developed a skeleton based on the [i]pentadactyl plan[i] which is evident in all vertebrates on Earth. Of course, there's no guarantee evolution on another planet would follow the same path as here. Even assuming the panspermia theory is correct, DNA is versatile, allowing organisms the ability to evolve and mutate according to environment. Whales and even octopods are known to be intelligent. Octopi are molluscs, so have no skeleton. On a world which has little or no dry land, it is conceivable intelligent life could develop from animals similar to Earthly octopi.

Predators are smarter than herbivores because it doesn't take too much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf.
(I forget where I heard or read that.)


Predators aren't necessarily smarter, they just have more energy, generally speaking. Meat has more nutrients, and is easier to digest, requiring less effort to turn into energy and muscle. Having said that, intelligence also requires a lot of energy, so perhaps intelligent life would at least have carnivorous tendencies. Many of Earth's more intelligent species are omnivires. (Pigs, chimps, for example) Omnivores have a better chance of survival in an environment that has seasons, like ours.
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Message 433519 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 13:39:10 UTC

Most probably many and varied in appearance, but based on a similar theme to our own. It would really depend on what stage of development they are at as a species. We evolve, so do they.
Highly probable there will be many bi-pedal variants.
Our part of the Galaxy is no different to many other similar locations in the outer spiral arms. Whatever earth is capable of producing, chances are, they are out there.
Imagine a planet where a lemur like species made it to the top of the intellectual evolutionary tree?
Cool or what?
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Message 433555 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 14:45:36 UTC - in response to Message 433519.

Possible variation on bi-pedal form......


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Message 433595 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 15:23:18 UTC - in response to Message 433175.

What might an alien creature really look like?
I've occasionally pondered this. Aliens are often depicted in sci-fi as essentially humanoid in appearance, with a head on top and a couple of legs.

I wonder if in fact they might look like this? After all, given the idea of panspermia, it is possible that DNA on an alien planet could well be related to ours.

Take a dinosaur for example. No-one on first thought would consider a T-Rex to be anything like a human, but actually the similarites are striking: Two hind legs, two fore legs. Ribs, backbone, even a radius and ulna (forearm bones.)

The only life forms which really bear no similarites with us are plants.

Just what form do you lot think an intelligent alien might take - from a scientific view?


If our dna came in from outerspace as is possible it is fair to assume that it has also travelled to other stars and effected an humanoid dominant species there
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Message 433611 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 15:59:05 UTC - in response to Message 433595.
Last modified: 9 Oct 2006, 16:18:38 UTC

Panspermia!
I agree.
Life is not created,
life is passed on
from generation to generation.
From a humble unicellular organism
to an advanced primate.
We're links in a cosmic chain.
The chromosome contains what is necessary to adapt
to varying environments.
This is where the real smarts are.

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Message 433632 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 16:48:02 UTC - in response to Message 433595.


If our dna came in from outerspace as is possible it is fair to assume that it has also travelled to other stars and effected an humanoid dominant species there


I would think that dna traveling throuh space would need protection. Otherwise, it would get chopped up into the corresponding amino acids by cosmic/solar rays before it could land anywhere useful. Without checking the energy levels, I could be mistaken. Perhaps through an asteroid, however unlikely it would be with/on an asteroid.

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Message 433687 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 19:10:36 UTC - in response to Message 433632.

It has been suggested (I've no idea now where) that microbes, or at least their spores, can survive extreme radiation without becoming damaged and may well be adrift in space as dust. I seem to recall spectrum analysis has indicated the presence of carbon 'dust' in space.

Anyhow, if we embrace this panspermia hypothesis, which I do at the moment, consider this:

Our planet consists of environmental conditions which range from being too cold for life as we know it, right up to conditions too hot or dry - the whole range of possible environments exist here for carbon/water based life.

Assuming an 'M' class planet is the source of alien life - a high probablility I expect, I believe life would evolve to suit its conditions and would probably resemble some form of evolved life on this planet.

Yes - I can imagine an intelligent life form might evolve which looked like an octopus and being largly waterbound, but it wouldn't look particularly alien to us, would it? The only problem is that the creature would have to have a need to develop intelligence (if theory of evolution accepted), and why this might happen to a species like homo sapiens sapiens and its ancestors is a subject for discussion on its own.

Take the humble octopus - it is said to be intelligent as molluscs go, but it doesn't make tools or manipulate its environment to any degree. Neither do dolphins for that matter. So what's the difference? I've no idea.

Aliens resembling insects?
Not sure about that one, but again basing my observations on Earth insects, they are all essentially simple biological robots, with little or no problem solving ability, relying on what is essentially hard-wired programming. Their body design - their exoskeleton - doesn't allow for large organisms as ventilation is a major problem for our larger insects, therefore that suggests a very small brain - a mere few thousand cells.

More silly thinking:
What would have happened if dinosaurs had survived and mammals hadn't become so successful? Would any of them developed human-like intelligence, and which species?
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Message 433698 - Posted: 9 Oct 2006, 19:19:38 UTC

There is an infinite number of ways that an alien could look like. If gravity were strong the alien might be smaller. Maybe he/she would look like a worm. Maybe like Kama Sutra (on the labels of records by the Lovin' Spoonful - "La Cucharada Cariñosa" - of late-60s fame). Maybe like an octopus. Maybe like a turtle with two heads.
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