Author Topic: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980  (Read 35277 times)

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Offline Superminime

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National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« on: August 09, 2008, 02:54:52 pm »
This isn't 100% related to spore, but it is about extraterrestrial life and what some scientists and illustrators thought it would look like if it had evolved on other planets.  If this post is in a wrong spot, feel free to move it, mods.

The following images are from the National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe, by Roy A. Galant.  I will type the caption below each picture in case they are unreadable.  Sorry about the glare in some of these photos, I don't have a working scanner at the moment.


What if...

...there really were creatures on other planets?  Scientists now suspect that in our Solar System only Earth cradles life.  We cannot yet rule out Mars, but so far our spacecraft have not detected anything obviously alive.  Some experts still hope to find life elsewhere - perhaps under the ice of Jupiter's moon Europa, or even floating in the atmosphere of a gas-giant planet - but chances are slim.  Yet we can still try to imagine how life might adapt to the environments of other worlds.  Just for fun, let's go on an imaginary safari to real places faithfully described, and see some creature that never were.

Titan
On dim, cold Titan, Saturn's giant moon, stovebellies might live - perhaps by the icy shores of a methane sea.  To avoid freezing, they keep fires burning inside their bodies.  How?  Stovebellies eat ice, which forms much of Titan's surface.  Their fuel is made up of oxygen from the ice and methane from the dense atmosphere.  By squirting flame like a rocket, they can make long leaps in Titan's low gravity.  Amphibious fishimanders like to crawl out of the sea and cuddle by a handy stovebelly for warmth - until their host blasts off, sending its guests flying.



Mars
Whisper-thin winds hiss along a dry, dusty canyon.  Deadly ultraviolet radiation pours from an unshielded Sun.  Nighttime cold reaches -80C.  Perfect weather for a fellow like the Martian waterseeker.  Its parasol tail can lift three meters in Mars' low gravity, shading it from ultraviolet sunburn.  The long snout can probe for pockets of ice under dried-up channels.  And the giants ears, needed to hear well in the thin air, also serve as blankets:  In Mars' frigid nights the waterseeker stays snug by clamping its ears tightly around its whole body.

Europa
Flat ice covers the second of Jupiter's four major satellites.  Europa may be the smoothest globe in the Solar System.  And here, brinker-roos might frolic, on feet shaped like skates.  They lead a carefree life, living on pure energy as they zoom across the endless frozen plains.  Since there's no air to breathe and no food to eat, brinker-roos need no mouths or noses.  Their green skins can carry out photosynthesis in the sunlight, as plants do.  And the coils on their backs pick up energy from Jupiter's strong magnetic field, which Europa must travel through as it orbits the giant planet.

Two images here to account for the glare.



Pluto
Electrical, crystal beings like these Plutonian zistles would find -250C too hot for comfort.  At night, when it's colder still and electricity flows perfectly, zistles feel best.  Highly intelligent, they spend most of their time radioing great thoughts to each other.  When zistles do get going, they can spring 20 meters high in Pluto's feeble gravity.  Zistles think Pluto is the only planet with life - it's too hot everywhere else!

Venus
To survive Venus's heat - lead would melt here - you might need a body that feeds on rock and metal.  This oucher-poucher snacks on a space probe from Earth.  Venus's surface is so hot that oucher-pouchers keep shifting from one foot to the other.  They travel by inflating their pouchlike bodies and bouncing along the ground.  Every rime one lands, it utters its customary cry, which sounds remarkably like "ouch!"


Jupiter
From birth to death, any life in Jupiter's wild atmosphere would have to stay airborne - there's no place to stand.  Hanging from their gasbags, floating jellyblimps would be easy prey for hungry swordtails.  A swordtail uses Jupiter's strong gravity and its own pointed body to dive right through its victim.  All creatures here must avoid winds blowing toward the freezing layers above and the scorching pressures below.



Well, there you have it.  I hope it was an enjoyable read for those who decide to read all the captions.  The images are at least entertaining, and an insight on what some people thought E.T's might look like if they existed in our Solar System.  I think they could have done a little better work on naming the critters, though.   :D
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 04:43:08 pm by Superminime »



Offline Gunner

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2008, 03:00:03 pm »
Nice stuff. :)
I wish I had that...
:O
Also, Gunner is one of the children.
It's true.

Offline Superminime

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2008, 03:02:25 pm »
You can buy a newer one, revised in 1990 off of Amazon.  I had this since I was a kid and I just found it recently by chance when digging around in storage.  It brought back a lot of memories, heh.

Offline DoggySpew

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2008, 03:03:39 pm »
Great find, and I do find this appropiate.

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Offline Ramphastos

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2008, 03:06:43 pm »
the stovebellies are my favourite one.  :D

Fart-propelled in a methane atmosphere, ahhhh brilliant.

Offline smjjames

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2008, 03:09:59 pm »
I read that book some years go.

Only problem though with Titan is that there is no confirmation of water ice (AFAIK) and the seas are essentially oil. There is methane ice on Titan though.

Having life in the atmospheres of Saturn or Jupiter is common in science fiction.


Offline Notorious B.O.B

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2008, 04:20:33 pm »
I read that book some years go.

Only problem though with Titan is that there is no confirmation of water ice (AFAIK) and the seas are essentially oil. There is methane ice on Titan though.

Having life in the atmospheres of Saturn or Jupiter is common in science fiction.



Wait a minute, I thought the oceans on Titan were made of liquid methane.  Or was that Ammonia?  I don't remember....
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Offline smjjames

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2008, 04:27:58 pm »
I think I meant to say natural gas, not oil as natural gas has alot of methane. Anyways, you're right about the methane oceans.

I agree that they could have done better on naming the things.

Also, they have some facts wrong about Europa, sure some places would be smooth, but it has crevasses of ice all over the place. There might be life under the ice on Europa.

Offline Green Gremlin

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2008, 04:41:43 pm »
Thanks for sharing this. A real time capsule from the golden age of sci-fi illustration. :)

Offline Hydromancerx

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2008, 08:35:06 pm »
Man where did you find this? I love these old type of alien/evo drawings.

Offline Superminime

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2008, 10:02:56 pm »
You can buy a newer one, revised in 1990 off of Amazon.  I had this since I was a kid and I just found it recently by chance when digging around in storage.  It brought back a lot of memories, heh.

I personally didn't acquire it, hydromancer.  It was just there, one of my siblings or parents must have bought it before I was born in 1985.

Offline Ultramarine

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2008, 10:20:22 pm »


That's awesome!
So you can find a 1990 version on Amazon huh?
Gotta find that (And I think I see the inspiration for the willosaur on the Europa page ;) )!
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Offline delijoe

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2008, 11:43:06 pm »
I remember this book!  I had it when I was a kid and I used to read it all the time.  I think that might have been what originally got me into science fiction.... that and Star Trek and Doctor Who...

Offline smjjames

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2008, 01:17:37 am »
Man where did you find this? I love these old type of alien/evo drawings.

It was at a local library some time ago I think. No idea where it's at now, but you might be able to find one at a library.

I know you were asking Superminime, but was just saying.

Offline DoggySpew

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Re: National Geographic on Extraterrestrial Life, Circa 1980
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2008, 09:00:19 am »
I've tried to recreate the Waterseeker:


Unfortunately, I can't get the tail right, and I would've gone for hearbear ears, but I can't get them big enough. I think at least I got the colour right.

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