Aliens have become a staple in entertainment, taking on various forms that usually have one or more attributes that seem at least somewhat vaguely human, but one Australian scientist has a few ideas on how alien life might appear on red dwarf planets — and it is definitely not what one would expect if one were seeking the familiar.
Humans, as a collective, have been “conditioned” to see aliens in a certain way, according to the Daily Star, with Hollywood and science fiction books pushing images of “small green aliens with large, googly eyes.” In addition, there are many forms taking on something somewhat human-like, such is in many science fiction television series. And then there are those more-or-less human-like aliens that inhabit the realm of UFOlogy and alien abduction reports where the extraterrestrials are usually gray (known as “Greys”), white (Nordic types called “Tall Whites”), or reptiles (“Reptilians”). However, Dr. Brian Choo of the School of Biological Sciences at Flinders University in Australia is working on altering that “conditioned” perception of alien life.
Choo, working with artist Steven Grice, has created 3D images of alien life — a planet and a creature — that could be logical manifestations of what forms life might actually take on a world that orbited a red dwarf star. On a world that might have limited resources, where the solar winds of a volatile star hold sway (red dwarfs, at least in their younger stage, are a constant source of plasma bursts and radiation particles that can strip planets of their atmospheres over millions of years, according to noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson), the life must adapt to make the most of what is at hand.
Dr. Choo sees alien life on a red dwarf star world as amphibian, or having the characteristics of being cold-blooded, vertebrates, and having an aquatic larval stage as well as a terrestrial adult stage. But this amphibian would not resemble an amphibian on Earth, having evolved on a barren planet where its sources of potential food are not plentiful. The body would be protected by a hard, reticulated shell (like a lobster) across its back and rest four legs, a small pair in the back and a larger pair to the fore, the better for digging and holding up a large, hammerhead-shaped head. Its mouth is located on the flattened underside of its head, a position that allows the creature to clamp down on plants and suck up tubers it finds in the soil. Its skin would be transparent, a characteristic to better capture more energy from its star.
Labeling it an “odd creature,” Choo says “it grazes on low growing lichen-like vegetation and digs for buried tubers.”
Choo further describes the creature: “The low-slung body and armored carapace permit it to forage during the blistering windstorms that scour surface. The paddle-like tail and vestigial fins betray an aquatic larval stage in the cool lakes at the edge of the melting dark-zone glaciers.”
The plant would be a hardy survivor similar to a cactus, able to store water for long periods of time. It would also have propeller-enhanced seeds to enable it to soar to other sites for dissemination.
“Harsh surface conditions could drive plants underground,” Choo says. “Like mushrooms, most of its anatomy may be out of sight – protected from the winds, heat and radiation. The fleshy body of this ‘plant’ is mostly underground, save for the spectacular rosette of petals that trap moisture and, with the aid of symbiotic microbes, harness sunlight.”
The seeds, Dr. Choo says, have a unique survival attribute. “While the mature organism is immobile and unthinking,” he says, “its wind-blown seeds possess the limited degree of self-awareness necessary to navigate it to a site suitable for germination.”
But will aliens on red dwarf star planets, like the recently discovered worlds of Trappist-1 (which could have as many as four planets in its habitable zone, according to a recent report at the Inquisitr, thus having the potential for at least four worlds where water-dependent life could be sustainable) actually resemble the alien life forms imagined by Dr. Brian Choo? It is difficult to know for certain.
However, choosing to believe that aliens will resemble humans or have human-like attributes is a psychological concept known as anthropomorphism. Although there exists a possibility that, if alien life is eventually discovered, it just might be human-like in some as yet unknown way, given the abundance of varying evolutionary paths taken by the myriad forms of life on Earth, it would appear, as Dr. Choo demonstrates, that such life is likely to be rather alien.
NASA, the foremost authority on astrobiology, holds the official position that no aliens in any form have as yet been detected or discovered.
[Featured Image by Studio Vlad/Shutterstock]