I’ve been doing a little research this afternoon, coming up with more details for the alternate life forms I’m making up. I pulled out Five Kingdoms, by Lynn Margulis, for inspiration. It’s a catalog of all the phylla of known living things on our planet. It’s dense, technically worded prose, but it’s a dead weather day–a day when the sky is depressed. This happens to the midwest: something occurs on the coasts that’s exciting, a bit dangerous, but by the time it gets to us it’s bland to the point of pointlessness. Even the mice have given up their churlish, poopy stealth, and are allowing the traps to snap shut on their little necks.
Anyway, one makes good on such a day only by expending effort on that which is true. These things are real:
– Beasties that create not only their own food, but their own oxygen supply, by metabolizing rotting vegetation
– Methane eaters. Probably holdovers from ancient Earth, in the days before air.
– Introverted proboscises. (That’s basically a mouth on the tip of your nose.) If you have one, all you have to do is sit in the mud all day and wait for food to filter in.
– Species that are 100% female.
– Body parts used for senses we can’t even identify.
– A liquid that functions as heart and lungs.
– Creatures that reproduce sexually, but separately. That is, males shoot sperm into the ocean, females drop eggs into it, and the would-be babies have to take care of the rest themselves. Under the ice of the winter sea off the coasts of Scandinavia, no less.
– Things that reproduce by blowing bubbles in their cell walls.
– Other things that eat their prey from within. They get inside the host, have babies, and the whole family eats good until they devour their host.