Trope-a-Day: Call a Smeerp a “Rabbit”

Call a Smeerp a “Rabbit”: Another unfortunate aspect of Translation Convention.  As described under Taxonomic Term Confusion, Eldraeic has a means of classifying – and words for – species-groups classified by homology alone, so that people can talk about the winged flying creatures that exist on multiple planets easily – without having to resort to a bunch of tedious explanations about “bird-analogs”, especially when there’s not a single ecology of origin for everyone to get their analogs from anyway.

Unfortunately, English doesn’t.  Which means that, footnote it as I might, “trees” includes many things that are not part of kingdom Plantae, “birds” includes Elieran four-winged flyers, “fish” includes Phílae’s armed – um, arm-possessing – fish-analogues and Revallá’s tubefish, and so on and so forth.

Trope-a-Day: Panspermia

Panspermia: Not proven in the general case, any more than it is today, and probably substantially less – different evolutionary trees and biochemistries surely look as if they had different origins.

Confirmed in some specific cases – Eliera, for example, derives its life from three sources: bluelife, which is very clearly descended from the native life of Revallá (Imperial Core); greenlife, of unknown but extraplanetary origin; and silverlife, descended from feral Precursor nanomachines – but then, Eliera is an artificial planet, so that’s to be expected.  And many garden worlds are the product of ancient terraforming, such as the many methane-based garden worlds in the vicinity of the Elmon Rift that were terraformed by the ancient and extinct methane-breather civilization that thrived there around 33 million years ago, and so possess life which obviously originated offworld.

But natural panspermia, or a common/intentional aliens-seeding-life origin?  Very much not proven, and looking increasingly unlikely.

In Many Shapes and Forms

The ecology of Eliéra is uniquely complex in the known Associated Worlds, since it is not, as most are, the product of either natural evolution, or ancient or modern ecopoesis.  Rather, a few unique survivals excepted, its ecology is a mixture of species from three separate origins and their coevolved descendants; referred to as bluelife, greenlife, and silverlife.  It is believed that the progenitors of these ecologies were transported to Eliéra during the tenure of the Precursor species, and in the case of bluelife and greenlife, that their descendants reflect those ecologies which were best fit to survive and adapt to the world in the absence of the Precursors and thus anyone to tend their gardens and biological preserves.

Both bluelife and greenlife are examples of oxygen-breathing ecologies using the common L-protein/lipid-D-carbohydrate biochemistry, with nucleic acid-based information-storage molecules; although the encoding used for these information-storage molecules differs greatly between the two classes.  There is considerable overlap in the specific compounds (amino acids, for example) used by the two classes, to a sufficient extent that heterotrophs and saprotrophs of both classes find the other edible, although in many cases lacking in some essential nutrients.  Indeed, some members of each class, including the sophont species of Eliéra, the eldrae, now naturally require some essential nutrients from each of the classes in their diet.  (The eldrae, among some other large animal species, are particularly notable for having adopted some symbiotic bluelife organelles into an essentially greenlife makeup, giving them their distinctive indigo blood.)

Bluelife, a class including a large number of non-cellular and single-celled organisms, also includes among its complex organisms the majority – around 85% of species – of Eliéra’s plant life (whose distinctive and predominant blue photosynthetic pigment is the source of the name of the class), a smaller percentage – around 75% of its species – of its animal life (including both scaled and furred hexapedal land animals, four-winged birds, duodecids, and tubefish), 90% of its fungi, and all of its algae and plankton.  It is strongly believed to consist of evolved and/or modified forms of life transplanted from the nearby world of Revallá, which used a near-identical biochemical substrate and set of body plans, the more so when Eliéra bluelife’s adaptations to coexistence with greenlife and, to some extent, silverlife are considered.

Greenlife also includes a large number of non-cellular and single-celled organisms, along with another 14% of Eliéra’s plant life (again, the green photosynthetic pigment, chlorophyll, gave its name to the class), the remaining (with very few exceptions) 30% of its animal life (including both scaled and furred quadrupeds, two-winged birds, arachnids, cetaceans, and bony fish), and nearly 10% of its remaining fungi.  The origin of greenlife is unknown; no world currently known to the Imperial Exploratory Service appears to have a compatible ecology.

The final class of life on Eliéra is the silverlife, a class of lifeforms descended from what are believed to be a number of simple Precursor nanites which survived the destruction of the Precursor civilization, many of them mutated by radiation effects and evolved over time.  By far the vast majority of silverlife is composed of microscopic organisms of the crystallite and metallite kingdoms, of which the most notable are the saerymaharvéi, descended from simple assemblers and responsible for the many crystal deposits and outcroppings across the surface of Eliéra.

Silverlife also includes some simple macroscopic organisms, including some silicate pseudo-plants found in sunlit, rocky areas of appropriate compositions (most prominent are cikril, which forms tall, slender columns of translucent crystals, charged with photoelectricity, and cikrieth, a swamp-dwelling variety of cikril which extracts materials from seawater and forms intertwined resource-sharing complexes), and some colonial organisms roughly analogous to slime molds.  These together make up the remaining 1% of Eliéra’s plant species, and 0.5% of its fungi.

Silverlife in general has many aspects and features in common with the lower lifeforms of Galáré, the homeworld of the galari; while the evidence suggesting their origin in Precursor nanotechnology remains convincing, scientists are studying the possibility of a link between known Precursor nanotechnology and the ecosystem of this world.

– An Introduction to Eliéran Biology, Imperial University of Almeä Press