Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Don't Expect Aliens To Look or Think Like You - by Liza O'Connor

The chances are, a sentient alien WON’T look anything like us.
Life is incredibly diverse, just look at some of our sentient beings on Earth

We shouldn’t expect other sentient beings on other planets to look like us. In fact, we don’t resemble any of the top 24 sentient beings on Earth, not even our cousin primates. And while they may or may not pass our human test for sentience, (depending on who evaluates the test), I’m quite certain we’d fail any test the other animals established to determine sentience. Can we communicate emotions by changing the color of our skin? No? On the Octopus’s test it’s a required feat.

We’d also fail the memory test run by the elephants and sheep.

While the dolphin and killer whales are not only adept in their languages, they have taken the effort to learn to hand signals, whistles and voice commands of the humans at Sea World who make them do stupid  tricks all day. Since none of us understand a word of their languages, we’d fail their language tests.

Then there is my dog Jess. I am a hundred percent confident that she fully understands the English language. But do I understand dog? Not at all.

And if the ant were to derive a test, the ability to track and communicate with the nest would be extremely important. We would fail dismally.

Any of the animals above could realistically become the top sentient being on another planet. Just because our ancestor climbed out of tree doesn’t mean that will happen elsewhere.  If a planet is covered in water, it is more likely the Octopus, squid, dolphin or killer whale who would swim up and claim dominance. My money is on the Octopus. Seriously, who needs a prehensile thumb if you’ve got a great many gripping tentacles?

Nor should we expect all sentient beings on other planets to be water based like us. (In case no one has mentioned this, humans are mostly comprised of water.)  However, on Titan, sentient life could be methane based. And since we’ve no idea how it might form itself, we might not even recognize it as a living creature. Or even see it. A great many of our sentient animals such as the Octopus are great at blending in with the background.

As for the most likely to become space travelers: I vote for the Octopus.

Its brain has many complex features like ours, it’s very smart with amazing problem solving skills. Add to this, it has longer, more flexible arms, plus it has NO BONES. This would make it an excellent candidate for traveling in space. As any astronaut will tell you, bones deteriorates in low gravity.

Also, Octopi can adapt to almost any environment. And their ability to hide in plain sight is phenomenal. They could make themselves look like a piece of furniture or a pillow on the couch. While the Octopus can live out of water for a short time, any ship built for them will certainly be filled with water, which would lower radiation exposure during travel.  Throw in some crabs and fish, and they have a replenish-able food source.

I’m sure you’re thinking, hold on, won’t the ship short out with all that water. Not if a flexible, non-leaking barrier seals all the electronics.

So if someday you are sucked up into a ship belonging to aliens, don’t be surprised if the aliens look rather like the octopus.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Liza O’Connor has recently published book 1, The Gods of Probabilities of her first Sci-Fi series The Multiverses, and yes, there are sentient Octopi, as well as an Ocean dwelling humanoid with gills.  Book 2, Surviving Outbound, you meet a sentient blue cow, and in book 3, you meet an entire herd of the sentient bulls and cows. In book 4 Surviving Sojourn, you’ll discover one of the humans, is actually a different species that looks quite similar to us, but has the ability to alter their size. You’ll also discover two highly intelligent T. rexes, but don’t ask to dine with them. They aren’t friendly at all and would prefer to dine on you than with you.
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  1. Now I'm not excited to see what Aliens really look like. Octopuses aren't the cutest sentients. I love almost all the other sentient creatures of Earth.

  2. Thanks Pippa for letting me have a chance to share my theory on what aliens will look like.

  3. Loved it. I get very tired of the humanoid aliens model. I have to agree about the tentacles. My aliens in the Ptorix Empire books have tentacles precisely because I think technological aliens would have to have some way of building tech. Which is why I don't expect we'll see whales in space. But hey. Maybe they'll develop a way of manipulating spacetime that doesn't need a spaceship.

    1. Perhaps their sonic cries can create a space warp from one ocean to another planet's ocean. It would explain how Douglas Adam's Dolphins left as well.


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