Xenobiology

New Gaia Surface
Image from Anders Sandberg

Xenobiology is the study of non-Terragen life. This field includes the study of exotic and extremely non-terragen biospheres such as those that gave rise to the Muuh or the Soft Ones, and completely inorganic naturally evolved forms such as the Rheolithoids, as well as the descendants of xenobiological forms known to be partially or entirely of artificial origin, such as the life forms produced by the Halogenics, or the various Cybyotan worlds. Even the evolved mechosphere at Stanislaw has received attention from xenobiologists. Though only a few worlds rival the wealth of life forms present on Old Earth before the Great Dying, a single biosphere is still an entire field in itself from the point of view of ordinary sophonts, though comparative xenobiology is a rich field as well.

 
Articles
  • Abiogenesis, Lithopanspermia and Translocation  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Varying modes by which life may arise on a planet.
  • Acidophile - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism with a pH optimum for growth at, or below, pH 3. A type of extremophile.
  • Alkaliphile - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism with optimal growth at pH values above 10. A type of extremophile.
  • Animal  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Strictly speaking, any member of a major group of related Old Earth organisms that are multicellular, eukaryotic, motile at some or all stages of life, and digest their food internally. More broadly, any similar biological organism, Terragen or otherwise, and natural or otherwise.
  • Astrobiology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The science of origin, distribution, and evolution of nonterragen life.
  • Barkbat  - Text by Todd Drashner
    A large predator, the barkbat clings to the trunks of the skywracks and uses its wings in a gliding flight to hunt other creatures that live in the canopy.
  • Barophile - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism that lives optimally at high hydrostatic pressure. A type of extremophile.
  • Bilateral Symmetry  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Stephen Inniss
    Any organism or device having symmetry along only a single axis (left and right), in contrast to radial or spherical symmetry.
  • Chlorine Worlds  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Chlorine worlds are like typical Eugaian worlds, with one important difference: the planet has an unusually high proportion of chlorine, and the process of photosynthesis releases free chlorine in significant quantities.
  • Chorus  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Homeworld of the xenosophont provolves the Jade Chime Singers.
  • Cookie Fiend  - Text by John B
    A subsophont predatory lifeform native to the planet Elmo resembling a giant chocolate chip cookie with legs.
  • Cosmoamoeba - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic technical term for the giant space amoebas recently discovered in a number of bright emission nebulae along to the Sagittarius Outer Volume.
  • Cybyota  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Mechanical/biological world-seeding and terraforming agents of non-Terragen origin that have apparently evolved into independent life forms since their origin.
  • Deepwood  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Deep space orwood species of probable alien origin.
  • Devil's Rose  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Carnivorous xenobiotic plant.
  • Doreen/Doreens  - Text by Stephen Inniss, expanded and amended from original material by Anders Sandberg
    Chlorine world, former home of the extinct Doreens.
  • Elmo  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Garden World in Monoceros, 1071 ly from Sol
  • Exobiology  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Also Xenobiology, Astrobiology. During the Atomic, Information and Interplanetary periods this was the speculative study of biology, biochemistry, and life forms on worlds other than Earth (at that time no non-Terragen life was known through direct contact). The termed was coined by atomic age scientist Carl Sagan. It is now very rarely used.
  • Exotic Biochemistry, Alien - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Although Non-Terragen biochemistries are rarer than terrestrial ecologies, they are not uncommon. Cold ammonia or methane ecologies are rarer, while chlorine, neutron star, free space or plasma ecologies are very rare.
  • Extremophile  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A rather chauvinistic term for any biological organism, whether terragen or xenobiont, natural or tweaked, that requires extreme (non-Earthlike) environments for growth or metabolism.
  • Garden World  - Text by Steve Bowers and Stephen Inniss
    A planet similar to Earth and hospitable to Terragen life. More broadly, any planet that supports a complex biosphere and macroscopic life forms. May be either a natural Gaian Type planet or a world that has been terraformed, although the term is more often applied to the former.
  • Grabgrass  - Text by Todd Drashner, Ryan B, and Mark Ryherd
    Carnivorous plant-form native to most of the temperate and sub-tropical regions of Ridgewell.
  • Gregor's Mat  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Terrestrial colonial mat-like organisms, made of trillions of amoeba-like cells, indigenous to Euripedes Mey.
  • Halophile - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism requiring high concentrations of salt for growth or optimal metabolism. A type of extremophile.
  • Hellswarm - Text by Todd Drashner
    A creature that combines all the less pleasant traits or aspects of terragen Africanized 'killer' bees, army ants, and locusts. On its homeworld, a hellswarm can strip a region of life as effectively as a major forest fire. The only defense is to either run away or burrow deep underground. Fortunately, the swarm is a short lived phenomenon, living only long enough to swarm, feed, breed, lay eggs in the soil, and die. The entire life cycle of the creature is only about 3 Terran days. The eggs may lie dormant in the ground for many years until environmental conditions (usually a warm, wet summer) triggers a mass hatching and a new hellswarm.
  • Honeywhip  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Carnivorous arboreal predator from the planet Trees
  • Hyperthermophile - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism having a growth temperature optimum of 80°C or higher. A type of extremophile.
  • Invertebrate  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Generic term of convenience for animals that do not have a vertebral column. The vast majority of Terragen animals, including such important phyla as the arthropods, annelids, nematodes, echinoderms and molluscs are invertebrate.
  • Jovibiota - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for large aerial xenobiota (sometimes called "gasbags") that have evolved on a number of Jovian Class worlds. Although vaguely similar in form, genetic and biochemical analysis reveals that nearly all evolved independently, hence the Jovibiotic set of morphotypes is an attractor that has appeared a number of times on different worlds.
  • Khowagong  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Large aquatic animals not unlike a Terragen sea slug crossed with a dugong, native to the Pelagic planet Tamarinde (Phoebus Prefecture, Solar Dominion).
  • Leviathan  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Very large sea-going animal native to New Poseidon.
  • Life-zone - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The region around a star within which a planet can have a temperature allowing liquid water on the surface. Also known as bio-zone.
  • Palaeoxenology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The study of ancient or extinct non-Terragen sentient life.
  • Papercutters  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Mite-like creatures from Macrystis (Lontis II, Solar Dominion) with a foraging behavior and ecological niche very similar to terrestrial leaf cutter ants.
  • Paralymph - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Limner blood/lymph circulatory fluid.
  • Phytoplankton  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Autotrophic planktonic organisms that are the primary producers within their ecology, usually via photosynthesis. Most often they are of microscopic size.
  • Pspyder  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Colony life form native to the planet Trees.
  • Psychrophile - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    An organism that requires or prefers cold for growth and metabolism. A type of extremophile. Common on some Europan planets and moons; in rare instances even evolve an intelligent star-faring civilization (the Muuh being the only known current example).
  • Puffer Patch  - Text by Todd Drashner
    A small predator native to Ridgewell, that spends most of its life in a sessile state, but is capable of using metamorphosis to change to a mobile form when environmental conditions require it.
  • PuYlong Ring  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A quasi-living field of planetary ring material.
  • Radial Symmetry  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Symmetry around a central axis; organisms with radial symmetry have a dorsal and ventral surface but are roughly similar on every side, though they may show fourfold, fivefold, sixfold, or eightfold symmetry.
  • RG Vijayanta III  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Terraformed by HIE236PPE.
  • Rheolithoids  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Silicon based non-sentient "lifeform".
  • Rollerox  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Plains dwelling, herbivorous creature indigenous to Nui Spiridonia.
    of their world, using their sonar to navigate.
  • Ruach Singers  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Tube-like predators from Ruach, able to swim like sea snakes in gas giant atmospheres. They get their name for their extremely powerful sound, which they use for navigation, internal signaling, mating displays and as a sonic weapon. Mirrored Owl hosts.
  • Ruach Toroids  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Natural inhabitants of Ruach. Symbiotic autotrophs-heterotrophs shaped like translucent toroids, covered with brightly colored photosynthetic symbionts. They filter nutrients through the central hole, which they can also use as a jet to move away from danger and steer. Mirrored Owl hosts.
  • Sailor  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Aquatic crustacean-like lifeform that is a natural sailboat. Native to the planet Trees.
  • Shona  - Text by Radtech497
    Outer Volumes moon with an unusual indigenous biosphere orbiting a resonant MesoJovian world
  • Shur'rooss'hur  - Text by Steve Bowers
    A domesticated beast on To'ul'h Prime, about the size of a Shetland Pony.
  • Skywrack  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Giant plants from the planet Trees up to a kilometre in height.
  • Space Amoeba, Giant  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Cosmoamoeba gigas lagoonensis, one of the curious phenomena discovered in the Lagoon Nebula (and later in the Trifid Nebula) are a population of amorphous blobs that vary in size from 500 meters when contracted to several tens of kilometers when extended.
  • Species  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The basic unit of biological classification in Linnean or neoLinnean systems.
  • Spherical Symmetry  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Symmetry such that an organism is similar if divided in half along any plane.
  • Stiltwalker  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Large tetrapodal terrestrial herbivore indigenous to the savannas of the northern continent of Calinder's World (Lacustric Subtype - Cygexba middle region, near the Zoeific Biopolity border - Eden Institute Scientific Reserve).
  • Tau Felis Minoris II - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A cold planet altered by the unnamed species HIE236PPE (an extinct xenosophont race) so that it supports an ecology of cold-adapted lifeforms. These lifeforms share a common ancestry with those found on 12 other worlds.
  • Terralife - Text by John B (credit to Jonathan Burns)
    Any form of life which developed naturally on Terra (Old Earth). Specifically excludes any mods to the base lifeform.
  • Trees (HD 3823 II)  - Text by Anders Sandberg and Steve Bowers
    A self-sufficient Garden World with a spectacular vertical ecosystem; the planet is named after the gigantic trees that grow there.
  • Whisper  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Planet covered in a sophont grassland xenoecology, perhaps of artificial origin.
  • Xenecology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Study and application (in habitat design, biospherics, etc.) of alien (non-terragen) ecologies.
  • Xenobacter Mirabilis - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Derived bacterium found on Mykropht III - easily gengineered to form symbiotic upregulated DNA repair systems used by soft radnads.
  • Xenobiochemistry  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Xenobiochemistry is the study of the comparative biochemistry of Terragen, neogen, and xenobiont organisms. This includes alternatives to water as a solvent, alternative photosynthetic processes (xenophotosynthesis), and many other topics.
  • Xenobiologist - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    One who studies non-terragen lifeforms. Most survey and research vessels have at least one Xenobiologist (or equivalent turing- or superturingrade ai or expert system) on board. While some xenobiologists have a generic knowledge that is applied to xenobiota and xenecologies in general, most tend to specialize in an individual world, specific environment or world type, or even a single alien taxon or species.
  • Xenobiont  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for alien (non-terragen) lifeform. May be animal-like, plant-like, protistan, exotic chemistry, or any other possibility. Does not have to be sophont. In fact just as on Earth, very few alien species ever evolve any measure of cognitive intelligence.
  • Xenobiota - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The totality of non-terragen life on a specific planet or non-terragen ecosystem.
  • Xenophotosynthesis  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    On Old Earth the dominant photosynthetic organisms split water to release oxygen. This is the most common sort of photosynthesis on inner system gardenworlds. However, water is not the only source, and oxygen is not the only possible result.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 31 December 2007.