Evolution of Aliens

Zach777

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Does anyone know of a software or resource that would help with building a planet that it's likely your alien species would evolve on?

For several sci-fi books I'm planning, I want to have as much accuracy as possible on the formation of the planets and what life, if any, could evolve on it. An example is that I have a species of alien called the Drakon who are essentially small dragons. They originated on a Mars sized planet so flight would be easier with lower gravity. I'm uncertain what other factors would come into play.
 

Wayne Mack

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I'm not sure about software programs, but some environmental trade-offs to consider would be that lower gravity would imply lower air density (less lift) and lower oxygen content (less power for muscles). On the positive side, consider what flying creatures have evolved on Earth. Is something like this ( Quetzalcoatlus ) large enough to meet your dragon needs?
 

OuttaInc

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I just recently finished two books that might interest you: Alien Oceans by Kevin Peter Hand and Imagined Life by James Trefil and Michael Summers

Alien Oceans is a combination of hard science and speculation. The author (a scientist at NASA's JPL) spends the first few chapters discussing the current search for non-terrestrial life and goes into great detail of the engineering and science behind the probes NASA has launched. The later chapters speculate what organisms might evolve beneath a sub-surface ocean.

Imagined Life is 100% speculation grounded in several assumptions stated up front (eg, the laws of physics work the same everywhere, natural selection is universal, etc). The authors (a physicist and a planetary scientist) then go on to imagine how advanced life might evolve on several planetary types: ice worlds, sub-ice oceans, water worlds, rogue planets, etc.

Finally, you may enjoy Wondrium's How Science Shapes Science Fiction course. Wondrium (formerly The Great Courses) is a premium streaming service but I've found more and more public libraries are providing free access for their patrons, so be sure to ask. (Here's a link to the trailer which you should be able to watch even without being a subscriber.) Specifically, Lecture 17: Design Your Own Dragon: Game of Thrones. From the description: "Science fiction writers don’t just build worlds that are different from our own; many also design unique creatures to populate those worlds. Look at the intersection of biology and physics as you explore dragons in fictional stories like Game of Thrones. As you will see, there is probably a reason most stories featuring dragons are considered fantasy rather than science fiction."

Hope that helps!
 

Zach777

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Thanks, I'll take a look at those. Wondrium's How Science Shapes Science Fiction sounds really interesting. That should especially help with the dragons which I know will be difficult. I might change them out. The only reason I have them in is because this is very loosely based on an RP a friend of mine and I did.

I look forward to reading Imagined Life. Have you read all those, then?
 

OuttaInc

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Yes, I’ve read them both/did the Wondrium course. All three are excellent and gave me food for thought. (I’m writing a story with an aquatic alien and I wanted a better sense of how they might evolve on different planets.)

What is an RP?
 

BAYLOR

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Thanks, I'll take a look at those. Wondrium's How Science Shapes Science Fiction sounds really interesting. That should especially help with the dragons which I know will be difficult. I might change them out. The only reason I have them in is because this is very loosely based on an RP a friend of mine and I did.

I look forward to reading Imagined Life. Have you read all those, then?

Also check out The Future is Wild by Dougal Dixon
 

Astro Pen

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I have difficulty imagining technological civilisations without opposable thumbs and a speech centre.
ie Humanoid. Which is probably very rare.
Given the imperatives of tool use, the ability to mine and smelt as well as the ability to communicate in detail verbally and numerically as a cooperative, constructive society. I think alien options may be more limited.
Life is easy. Life that can build rockets and cellphones, not so much.
So it kind of depends what capabilities you want your aliens to have. Mostly you will end up with some kind of Galapagos. Things that just move around and eat plants or each other.
 

Zach777

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I have difficulty imagining technological civilisations without opposable thumbs and a speech centre.
ie Humanoid. Which is probably very rare.
Given the imperatives of tool use, the ability to mine and smelt as well as the ability to communicate in detail verbally and numerically as a cooperative, constructive society. I think alien options may be more limited.
Life is easy. Life that can build rockets and cellphones, not so much.
So it kind of depends what capabilities you want your aliens to have. Mostly you will end up with some kind of Galapagos. Things that just move around and eat plants or each other.
It will be pretty diverse. There are a couple of advanced alien species along with various plant and animal analogs. For opposable thumbs, I'm thinking of something such as either a prehensile tail or an opposable claw for the dragons. The rest won't be too difficult, though I am trying to go away from the typical humanoid look for dragons.

A lot of that other stuff I'll need to think about for their civilization though. I've done a little, but more research still needs to be done.
 

Dave

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I have difficulty imagining technological civilisations without opposable thumbs and a speech centre.
ie Humanoid. Which is probably very rare.
Given the imperatives of tool use, the ability to mine and smelt as well as the ability to communicate in detail verbally and numerically as a cooperative, constructive society. I think alien options may be more limited.
Larry Niven had Dolphins with Waldos (remote manipulators.) Of course, it's doubtful they could have made them for themselves - kind of chicken and egg situation there. I do think you are absolutely right about speech and tool use, but the Octopus can communicate using posturing and colour changing, and we now know that many animals can use tools, so when we consider how very different aliens could be, I wouldn't take anything off the table of possibilities.
 

Zach777

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And even without thumbs, I imagine aliens could still evolve language. Writing might be more difficult, but if advanced enough, they'd find something. I could see an alien species of octopi evolving to manipulate their ink to write and communicate with others.
 

OuttaInc

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And even without thumbs, I imagine aliens could still evolve language. Writing might be more difficult, but if advanced enough, they'd find something. I could see an alien species of octopi evolving to manipulate their ink to write and communicate with others.
The possibilities are endless, and it’s a wild journey to take that seed of “what if” and carry it out to all of its fun and crazy conclusions. I’ve spent the last two years going through life imaging stuff from the perspective of my alien, and regardless of whether I ever publish it, it’s given me a new perspective on my own life. That alone is priceless.

Enjoy this part of the process, Zach; it’s the most rewarding, in my opinion. :)
 

Wayne Mack

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I have difficulty imagining technological civilisations without opposable thumbs and a speech centre.
In lieu of opposable thumbs, what about tentacles or claws? After the thumb and forefinger, what are the other three fingers bringing to the party?

An alternative to audio communication could be sign language and demonstration. I could argue that technical development was more dependent upon the the development of written communication than on verbal communication. Think of how it is often easier to show someone how to do something that to tell them.
 

psikeyhackr

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I haven't used this I just vaguely remember hearing about it somewhere.



Google "create a planet" and see what turns up.

 
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Stephen Palmer

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I think you have to combine imagination and common sense, eg. when I designed my Involvi aliens with long snouts I made sure their language was limited to the consonants they could reasonably be expected to pronounce. Designing aliens is where reading lots of nonfiction comes into its own!
 

BAYLOR

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And even without thumbs, I imagine aliens could still evolve language. Writing might be more difficult, but if advanced enough, they'd find something. I could see an alien species of octopi evolving to manipulate their ink to write and communicate with others.

The octopi would have had to moved onto the land. If they stayed ocean bound , they would likely not become an advanced technological civilization. Underwater existence means no fire and therefore no forging of metal possible, no industrial civilization and no advanced technology .
 

OuttaInc

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The octopi would have had to moved onto the land. If they stayed ocean bound , they would likely not become an advanced technological civilization. Underwater existence means no fire and therefore no forging of metal possible, no industrial civilization and no advanced technology .
Not necessarily on the forging. The books I listed go into great detail about this and what might be possible with alternate sources of energy such as thermal vents deep in the oceans. It’s quite amazing to ponder.
 

BAYLOR

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Not necessarily on the forging. The books I listed go into great detail about this and what might be possible with alternate sources of energy such as thermal vents deep in the oceans. It’s quite amazing to ponder.

There is a science fiction novel that might find of interest The Dark Lightyears by Brain Aldis . Let's just say , It has a very interesting take on Aliens .:)
 

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