How could complex life like humans of or other animals evolve to exist in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees centigrade. This does not need to be natural as long as it can in theory be achieved and be passes on to the offspring of the creature. More points for higher possible temperatures the creature can live in

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    $\begingroup$ There are actual organisms that barely match your criteria of above boiling temperature and can survive 120 degrees centigrade or so. If that is enough for your needs : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperthermophile $\endgroup$ Mar 23, 2018 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ Remember that "boiling point" is a variable that depends on pressure. (Which you'll know if you've tried to make coffee or tea at high altitudes.) It's not likely that any life form could survive actual boiling, so to have life at 100C, you have to have a high-pressure environment, like an undersea vent. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 23, 2018 at 18:46

3 Answers 3


The problem with water based life is that it uses water as solvent for carrying out all the chemical reactions on which life is based.

So if you take away water because it is no longer liquid you are making those reactions impossible.

The most obvious and radical solution seems to be to develop a form of life which is not water based, but uses a high boiling point liquid as solvent.


As Ville Niemi pointed out, certain archaea live under conditions of water beyond its boiling point close to underwater volcanoes and vents. However, the restriction is that this is so far beneath sea level that the pressure from the water above keeps this water still fluid and from evaporating completely. Without any form of liquid water life as we know it, is impossible. The trick of these bacteria is to have cell layers created from much more fatty acids than normal cells which do not degenerate at temperatures around ~120°C. Thus, the cell's inside organelles, liquids and proteins are keppt inside. If you wish to create your species, provide them with extra thick cell walls and possibly make their metabolism based on being dissolved in a fat based solution which is still liquid and not in the danger of immediately dissolving at temperatures beyond boiling point.

  • $\begingroup$ If all the environment is at 120ºC, then it does not matter how well insulated the interior of the organism is, without active cooling (e.g. sweating) it will end being at least at 120ºC at the interior (and more likely a little more, to account for the heat generated by the chemical activity of life). But +1 for your info about extremophiles anyway. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Mar 23, 2018 at 17:12

The only way an organism can live that is water based at 100'C centrigrade is to exist under conditions of high pressure; where water boils at a higher temperature. This could be underwater (where you get 1 atmosphere of pressure extra for every 10 feet you go down) or on a world with a very high atmospheric pressure.

Biochemically, it is possible for carbon based life to exist at high temperatures and many extremophiles do this. They manage because normally proteins are denatured (unfolded and unable to function) by high temperatures and our entire bodies are run by tiny protein based micromachines called enzymes. However, snake venoms and the enzymes of extremophiles use a different mechanism to maintain their folded structure than we and most plants and animals do. Instead of relying on weak interactions, they use di-sulphide bonds to maintain the shape of their proteins. Hence you can boil most snake venoms (or even put them in ether, chloroform or other organics that would denature our proteins in a second) and they will function perfectly.

There are also other changes (so that lipids that make up membranes are not oxidisable) and many that we don't yet understand. But DNA based life can and does survive at 110'C. On earth, mostly extremophiles are single-celled organisms but a few more complex forms have evolved. if you want intelligent life, star the planet orbited would need to be very long lived (perhaps M type that live trillions of years) because evolution in this kind of extreme environment is likely to be slower.

Note also, that with this amount of thermal energy about many of the autotrophic organisms might be evolved to collect and turn heat into chemical energy, not light.

Organisms out of water would need to have a mechanism to prevent water loss as at that temperature, dehydration would be a severe problem


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