Facts about Alien Life Forms, Part I

Facts about Alien Life Forms, Part I

The idea of beings existing outside the boundaries of our world has fascinated humankind from the early days of civilization. The ancient Sumerians were the first to populate the skies with all-powerful beings that have occasionally visited and influenced the lives of lesser mortals. Today, the same myth is preserved by their modern analogues through popular culture, governmental conspiracy theories and occasional sightings. Since no concrete proof has been brought to the public’s attention, we may only wonder about the existence of these celestial beings. Yet, if they do exist, what kind of creatures are they? What are their main cultural characteristics? What are their anatomic particularities? How technologically advanced are they? And finally, are they peaceful?

1. Alien Anatomy

Our image of alien beings strangely mirrors our own anatomy. One might argue that we are trapped in an anthropocentric paradigm and are simply unable to imagine advanced extraterrestrial beings with an anatomic layout that is different from ours. Still, there is some reason behind the “Hollywood-ian” version of the extraterrestrial being.  In order for a carbon-based creature to achieve technological advancement, it must follow the same basic evolutionary path. It must reach a multi-cellular state, it must develop a skeleton-like structure in order to adapt to gravity, it must develop inferior and superior members in order to travel and utilize tools. Of course, these are all theories based on the principle of convergent evolution and the assumption that their world is similar to ours, which may not be the case. Imagine a being adapted to a low-gravity environment, to high-temperatures or a being which is silicon-based rather than carbon based.

2. Nutrition

The biological energy source is extremely important for the evolutionary path of any being. How does an extraterrestrial sustain itself? Do they have a rich protein diet or maybe a mineral-based diet? In any case, the means of nourishment can affect their social structure and, potentially, their behavior towards us. If they are predatorial in nature, they may be inclined to adopt aggressive patterns of behavior towards us. On the other hand, if their diet is based mainly on some form of agricultural products, then they may not have any reason to adopt an aggressive stance towards us.

3. Alien Culture

The question of “alien cultures” is among the most fascinating, as shown by the millions upon millions of hardcore Star Trek and Star Wars fans. How does an alien society function? Science-Fiction has been especially rich in models of social development for extraterrestrial civilization. Are they a warlike race, such as the Klingons, intelligent but uncontrollable beasts, such as the xenomorphs, or have they formed highly structured, highly rational societies, like the Vulcans. Due to the considerable difference in biologic and cultural development, their customs and social concepts will most likely differ considerably from ours. Imagine a civilization that is unacquainted with what we perceive as fundamental concepts, such as love, friendship or kindness. Of course, chances are that there is not one, but a multitude of alien races, with different tendencies and different cultural values. While today, this is pure speculation, the field of xenoanthropology may one day become a reality.

4. The Potential of Human-Alien Relations

There are two possible scenarios. One is that the extraterrestrials adopt a hostile attitude towards us, in which case we may be faced with the possibility of a “war of the worlds” with an enemy that is far superior in technology and weaponry. The second scenario implies cooperation and a mutually beneficial relationship. Our hope is for all relations between the human race and any unexpected visitors to be peaceful, but the cultural shock produced by a first contact between two societies that are so radically different does raise some disconcerting questions. Of course, domination does not necessarily mean open conflict; we might see a metropolis-colony relation developing between the highly advanced extraterrestrial and the “inferior” earthlings.

5. Level of Technologic Development

The technology gap between us and the visiting extraterrestrials will probably define our relationship with them. Also, the type of technology available to them is extremely relevant, showing certain cultural inclinations. A hostile race will most likely emphasize the importance of weaponry while a peaceful race attributes less importance to weapons and more to communication, energy conversion and space travel technology. If they are much more developed than us, human psychology tells us that it is very probable that they will see us as inferior beings suited for exploitation. Now imagine that they are so much more developed than us that all forms of understanding and comprehension become impossible. After a great deal of frustration, they might reach the conclusion that we are simple curiosities unworthy of any additional investigation. 



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