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Food for thought: What type of alien have you NOT seen ...

  1. Mar 14, 2017 #1
    ... in a syfy story that you think would be fun?

    I was imaging a race of quasi-crabs who entered the Empire of Man after having met only one human, an Oxford don type who gave them some ... interesting ... ideas of what the rest of the human race was like.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Actually you could tie this in with the Japanese legend of the samurai who retreated into the sea with their child leader.

    Carl Sagan did a short story on this in his Cosmos series using it to explain evolution. Basically that when fisherman captured some crabs the ones with a samurai carapace were released. So a crab with such a carapace had a better chance of survival than one who did not with Man acting as the evolutionary selection agent.

  4. Mar 14, 2017 #3
    I don't see the possible connection.
  5. Mar 14, 2017 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    They're both crabs. Imagine the crabs of the legend, over time or due to some nuclear incident, gain intelligence and meet the Oxford Don while he was visiting Japanese and fell into the sea without a life vest. They rescue him believing him to be the lost emperor from whom the evolved...
  6. Mar 14, 2017 #5
    Bit tenuous. I don't think I could make a reasonable link between them.
  7. Mar 14, 2017 #6


    Staff: Mentor

    Tenuous is good, it makes you think outside the box just not too far outside the box. In science fiction its okay to break a few rules but break a lot and nobody wants to read your story.

    The crab story reminded me of one I read as a child where a civilization was forced into the sea and created an underwater empire until one day they decided they were strong enough to return and claim their land back. Their navy sets out for the surface in full force.

    A small boy discovers a toy ship floating in the ocean and decides to bring it home...

    The underwater empire realized that after all those years underwater they had shrunk. (story ending punch line)
  8. Mar 14, 2017 #7
    Not something I'd work on.
  9. Mar 15, 2017 #8

    jim mcnamara

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    FWIW - on Earth life basically has 3 forms of symmetry - bilateral (like mammals), radial (like sea stars, octopus), and radial (like Volvox).

    How many aliens have you encountered in literature or movies that look like these models? Almost all of them, with a huge preference for bipedal, bilateral humanoids.

    From a Biological/Astrobiological perspective this is nuts, IMO. @jedishrfu is correct to mention the perspective that sci fi seldom leaves the boundaries of Earth bound types for alien construction. Because readers and movie goers will not like something too different. Kind of a double-edged sword. Get creative and lose, stay mundane make people happy.

    Anyway you can guess that a far-out alien phenotype would be welcome, for me at least. So that leaves crabby aliens off the menu. Crabcakes, anyone?

    Offhand 'The Blob movies' are the only ones I recall with some alien thing lacking symmetry, like some salt water sponges. Anyone else have a suggestion?
    I do not think 'Andromeda Strain' fits what we are talking about. YMMV.
  10. Mar 15, 2017 #9
    "The Monolith Monsters" comes to mind.

    RAH's "Puppetmasters".
  11. Mar 16, 2017 #10

    jim hardy

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    That sure eases the task of finding actors to portray them.
  12. Mar 16, 2017 #11

    jim mcnamara

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    cgi is cheaper now than Actors Guild scale. :biggrin:
  13. Mar 17, 2017 #12
    Actually, starfish, octopus... are all bilaterally systemically. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symmetry_in_biology

    Bilateral symmetry has dominated since the Precambrian, before which fractal bodies were dominate.

    Bilateral symmetry allows you to have a front and back as well as a symmetric set of senses. It's also genetically fairly easy. Because of this, I would expect most intelligent life in the universe to have this form. Of course, that could be a wide variety including octopi and starfish looking creatures.

    Something I'm always irked by is scale. Most intelligent aliens weigh somewhere between a hundred and three hundred pounds. That's not even the norm for earth life. We're actually fairly large creatures. I see no reason that anyone has to be that size though other than the planet they come from.

    High oxygen content and lower gravity planet? Why wouldn't you have an intelligent creature that's fifty feet tall with a hundred foot neck? Even if the planet was just like earth, I don't think size and intelligence have to be coorolated. Why not a spacefaring creature the size of a house cat?

    Also, the speed of our thoughts. Everyone seems to think at the same speed as us, but I feel that the reason we think at the speed we do is due to predation. We have to just be fast enough to not get eaten and hunt our own food. Cats think way faster than us, dragonflies think at lightning speed. Without any predators, an herbavor can slow way down and have glacial thoughts. A silicon based lifeform that moves a millimeter an hour may live for ten thousand years and take three days just to say hello to its neighbor.
  14. Mar 17, 2017 #13
    I'm pretty sure that 5-fold symmetry is a real thing, although not as popular as the bilateral one.

    Anyway, there have been some attempts at insect-like aliens but pretty poor IMHO. There can be say 3 subspecies: queen (1 in 10000), warriors (1 in 10), workers (the rest).
    In movies usually the queen is the most/only intelligent one so that the human hero can defeat the whole alien race with a single shot, but it does not have to be this way. The queen just sits at home eating and doing nothing. The warriors would be the clever ones.

    Also I'm pretty sure that most aliens are going to be either autonomous robots, or live in computers and controlling non-intelligent robots. This is going to happen to us WAY before interstellar travel, whenever that might be, if ever.
  15. Mar 17, 2017 #14
    In Starship Troopers the bug brains weren't breeders. In the movie the director wasn't a breeder. Or at least I hope not.
  16. Mar 17, 2017 #15
    Yep but there were still just a few brains. It's a possibility but another possibility is having a large part of the population intelligent, with the rest blindly following their orders.
  17. Mar 17, 2017 #16
    They would need more brains than breeders, if they were anything like Earth insects.
  18. Mar 19, 2017 #17
    In fiction there have been aliens with trifold symmetry (3 equally spaced arms, eyes &c), but I don't know if they ever made it to the screen).
  19. Mar 19, 2017 #18
    Most of the land-dwelling Southern races on the Well of Souls world were bilaterally symmetrical, at least the ones we met. The Northerners however, such as the Diviner and the Rel, were more ... inventive.
  20. Mar 23, 2017 #19


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    Intelligent fungal colony. Oh wait, Alpha Centauri (video game) did that one already.
    I still like the idea of a colony intelligence. Something for which the idea of individuality is completely foreign.
  21. Mar 26, 2017 #20
    I remember a story where a criminal was selling "amoeba porn". Evidently the amoeba wanted it. Blobby aliens for the win?
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