Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Melanophyll?

That extraterrestrial life, existing under conditions possibly far different from those to which we’re accustomed, should differ markedly in anatomy and physiology from the species inhabiting the fields we know is no surprise. Consider the exotic life found here on Earth under conditions we call “extreme,” and you have a taste of what this means.


Black plants

Black plants, not green, could well be the rule in certain conditions.
[ Image Source ]

Given the scale of the cosmos and the consequent range of possible habitats, we must expect diversity beyond imagination. As plants are not bound to use chlorophyll, so the essentials of life are not bound to use carbon as a base; in its place, we may very well encounter silicon; we may also see life that processes phosphorus in lieu of nitrogen, or sulfur where we expect oxygen.

We have already found organisms conforming to some of these descriptions on our own world, so we can no longer plead a case for looking through a narrow lens. By this time next century, exobiology may well have entirely redefined “life as we know it.”

Originally published as a review of a BBC article on exobiology.

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