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bensen-daniel's avatar

Biotic Zones of Router

EDIT: check out the new version: [link]

This is a very preliminary sketch of the plant forms of some of the biotic zones that border the terran zone on Router ([link]).
What do you think?
Do you have any other ideas for good plant forms?
After I get some feedback, I hope to make a full color map of the area of Router around the terran gateway, with example pictures of the major phyla of animals and plants for each biotic zone. (yee!)
For inspiration so far, thank you:
done while listening to: The Gathering Storm (meh), a Cold Dish (eh!)
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Onironus's avatar
You have some nice ideas on here. Not too many people in specbio do plants, probably because it's difficult to find a truly alien design. Looks like you've come up with a few! Nice.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Thanks. You know, after spending all this time on plants, I actually had a tough time thinking of anything really new to do with animals([link]). Animals are all stupid worms, with their mouth and sense organs in the front and some kind of way of movement. And radial aliens have been done.
Onironus's avatar
It's true, animal designs are tough. I think if you want to make an alien looking alien you have to start with an alien body plan. On Earth for example, the major forms of life we see are bisymmetrical and have some sort of visible or ancestral segmentation. So, if you don't want earth-looking aliens that look familiar, try designing something around a non-segmented ancestor. Also, you could try and see what kind of life would develop from a colonial organism with no real sense of symmetry. Examples of colonial organisms on Earth are colonial hydrozoans like Portuguese Man o' War, with their specialized polyps; and it can be argued that bee and ant colonies are forms of colonial superorganisms, with specialized individuals working together as a single organism, only over a distance (it would be interesting to see what kind of alien forms would develop from this kind of body plan--if it can be called a body plan).

I'm sure there are plenty of others. Delve into biology in the topics less explored and you'll find all sorts of interesting ideas. Then, just let your imagination run loose.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Well, I've got animals without symmetry (the bush-like thing), but I haven't played much with non-segmentation. Thanks for the advice.
Onironus's avatar
No problem. Good luck.
A-H-R's avatar
If it helps, I had to read the summary to realize they weren' homework.
AmnioticOef's avatar
Whoops, I thought I posted a long comment here. Must not have clicked "add" :( .

Speculative botany is something you can never get enough of, and I love all these ideas. Some of them are a little mysterious though :) .

What's going on in Zone 2? Are the plants excreting dead tissue in which chemical reactions occur, and then reabsorbing it?
bensen-daniel's avatar
Bingo! Each piece of "tape" is actually a mineral that oxidizes in the air under with sunlight as a catalyst. The tree gets energy by breaking down the oxides. Hm...which means that something else in that ecosystem needs to make oxigen...I'll get back to you on that :)

Other non-chlorophyll photosynthetic systems? Something with piezoelectricity?
AmnioticOef's avatar
Aw, see, that's so cool! Write a description like that for every zone! :B

No, do whatever you want :D

Non-chlorophyll? Hmm...I don't know if this is possible, but maybe the plant uses photons to power its ATP synthase-equivalent directly. That is, photons enter the protein on one side (maybe guided by tiny fiber optics?) spin the little mechanism, and leave the other end. This is the most efficient pathway I can imagine.

Maybe light is focused onto a watertight reservoir of fluid, which then heats up and expands. The fluid's outlet is a membrane imbedded with ATP-equivalent synthesizing proteins, which are powered by the outflow. At night the reservoir cools down and refills by diffusion.

And then of course there are dozens of alternative chemical pathways. Witness this gem from Wikipedia:

"Other processes substitute other compounds (such as arsenite) for water in the electron-supply role; the microbes use sunlight to oxidize arsenite to arsenate. The equation for this reaction is:

carbon dioxide + arsenite + light energy → arsenate + carbon monoxide (used to build other compounds in subsequent reactions)"

As for piezoelectricity, perhaps piezoelectric crystals feed into an electron transport chain that works the normal way. This opens up the possibility of kinetosynthesis, with plants exploiting the movement of wind and water to compress their crystal-laden energy converting organs.

Take all my ideas with a grain of salt, since I'm completely ignorant when it comes to chemistry :) .
bensen-daniel's avatar
You know it's funny. Some of these ideas come more easily to me now as words, and they're a bitch to draw. I'm trying to illustrate as much as possible, though, since this is, like, an art website.

I wonder about the arsenite/arsenate chain. There would have to be a lot of arsenite in the environment, and a chemical cycle to recycle the arsenate and carbon monoxide. What conditions would make such a cycle likely? In any case, it would be horribly toxic to earth-based life.

But! Maybe 100 million years ago when the aliens made the link to Arsenon(? could I think of a stupider name for a planet?) the principal form of photosynthesis was C02/02. After some sort of global cataclysm, however the arsenite/arsenate plantlife takes over. The Arsenon gateway on Router now spews toxic chemicals all over the surrounding countryside. And of course, the gate on Arsenon is surrounded by a dead zone created by all that deadly oxygen.

I like the idea of piezo-electro-synthesis. Another group of autotrophs (can't call them plants) makes sugars by harnessing the energy of movement (maybe a better word would be kinetosynthesis). Maybe from a planet with a dense, windy atmosphere.

Yeah, my biochemistry is pretty bad, too. Hopefully someone will read this and stop us before we GO TOO FAR!
AmnioticOef's avatar
I can't answer those questions either, unfortunately, but the scenario you outline sounds good. Maybe the gate to Arsenon is the gate to the underworld in the mythology of the local humans, since strong winds could blow killing gasses from the gate over their settlements. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, since I don't actually know the status of humans on Router yet :D .

Also, I wonder how that global cataclysm would look on Router. If it was a meteor strike, a fiery jet might shoot out the Arsenon gate, finishing the job of extinguishing the original plants.

bensen-daniel's avatar
Human life on Router will have to wait until I decide where it is on Earth and how it's discovered. And that depends on the themes I want to explore and the story I want to tell. The working idea I have now is that the gateway is in present-day New Guinea, and it's inhabited by several successive waves of migrants (getting older and stranger the farther one goes from the gateway on the Router-side). Many of them are stone-age hunter-gatherers or subsistance farmers (maybe some of them re-invented the agrarian empire), but there's at least one outpost of western-educated drug-runners/revolutionaries near the gateway. And farther from the gateway, there are some advanced human groups who got technology from contact with Router's other inhabitants.
AmnioticOef's avatar
New Guinea's good--better than cliché old Antarctica :) .

Man, this world is so rich that I can hardly see how you're going to pack all these themes into a single story. Are you going to write a full-length novel, do you think?

What kind of technology?
bensen-daniel's avatar
Well, also, Antarctica doesn't have the possibilities for faunal interaction I'm going for.

As of now, I have no idea what I'm going to do with Router. So far, I haven't thought of a single, coherent series of events to tell about (i.e. no story). ~rubendevela thought an artbook like Barlowe's Expedition might work, and I did have an idea for something like that (which I can't use now because Spielberg stole my setting for Terra Nova!) that I might be able to past on top of Router. But that's not a project I want to do alone, and I think I'm going to have to become a famous author before I can get people behind me on that one. So we'll have to wait and see.

I have no idea what kind of technology :) As alien as I can make it. So far I've just barely started to design the animal life of the different biomes, and have given very little thought to how that life might think.
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AmnioticOef's avatar
Oh wow, in zone 5 the trees reflect light onto their clones! "clones"! I thought it was "cones" :D . So, the adult tree reflects light onto saplings to help them mature faster?

It reminds me of those aphid colonies that produce a sterile soldier caste for protection.

SwordSaint001's avatar
your Z-3 forms are very similar to the Tower of Babble Trees on my world of Varian III. at least in the regards to the heart like pump in the root system. for the Babble Trees they need it because of how massive they are. without the "Heart" they could never get water to the top most leaves with capillary action as do earth plants. Your designs are just very cool I like em alot!
bensen-daniel's avatar
Thank you. You know I hadn't considered using the heart pump to make these things very tall, but that would be a good idea. It would give them an edge over the plants of other biotas.
SwordSaint001's avatar
that's what has happened with the Babble Trees. the region they are found is mega volcanic, it's the collision point of two continents. that said it is also very tropical. The soil there is far more nutrient rich than just about all other tropical forests on Varian III. These trees grow to massive proportions the tallest almost 2000 ft tall. Their branches are supported via buttress and column roots. They over shadow just about everything even any sapling that might try to grow which is why they have a unique reproductive system where two trees have reproductive roots. These roots will wrap round each other and inside a young tree grows. both trees share the load of nourishing the sapling which until it's trunk or "spike" grows past the perpetual dark of the understory has no leaves.Once this does happen the parent trees break off their "Gyno-roots"and reabsorb them. the young tree has a fighting chance now.All other forms of plants in the Night Forest grow on the massive branches of the Babble trees, though a few have become parasites of the trees often of their roots. It's a very complex biota.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Sounds interesting, and I like the reproduction method. Hey, can I use those trees in Router? It's okay if you say no.
SwordSaint001's avatar
I don't mind, as long as ya sight me as the influence, that's all I ask. :-)
SwordSaint001's avatar
then I am honored to have my trees used in your world. :-) let the fun begin!!!
bensen-daniel's avatar
Thank you! I hope I'll have pictures out in the next couple of days.
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