So I am making these giant(human sized) amoeba-like aliens and to have something this big it requires a skeleton to maintain shape and to support its body but also needs to be flexible so it can do as an amoeba does and change shape to move. So my question is what sorts of weight supporting structures could allow a creature to morph shape and make pseudo-pods but still hold its weight?


There are major problems for human-sized amoeboids. Firstly, the material an amoeba is made of is basically a thin gooey substance rather like snot. To scale up in size an organism that is basically a puddle of goo is itself highly problematic. Adding a skeleton isn't enough. This will give you a creature that is a skeleton covered in a snot-like goo. This would be good for a really high yuk factor.

Also, skeletons need muscles and connective tissue to support the organism and help it move. This suggests that your amoeboid will be less and less like an amoeba and more and more like conventional animal. Less of a giant single cell and more of a normal multicellular creature that might look somewhat like an amoeba. This might not be very helpful for the creature.

Also, scaling up an amoeba's outer cell wall is likely to make it too rigid to move.

However, possibly instead of a skeleton giant amoeboids might create temporary rigidified regions of their protoplasmic body to provide support and the equivalent of effectors to faciliate movement. Not exactly legs but possibly closer to the muscle masses in molluscs like snails to move around.

This process of stiffening and unstiffening parts of its protoplasm will presumably take energy. Also, it doesn't sound like an efficient way to get around.

In conclusion, this answer has considered there are a range of major problems in scaling up what is a well adapted organism on the microscopic scale to the size of human beings where it becomes highly maladapted and dysfunctional. Some tentative suggestions have been made about possible alternative structures and mechanisms to facilitate gigantic amoeboids. Making gigantic amoeboids scientifically plausible isn't going to be easy.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your input, just a couple of things, these aren't actual amoebas being scaled up, just aliens that move and resemble amoebas a great deal, second off, could the protoplasm stiffing occur quickly to make movement of the pseudo-pods as quick as human limb movement , considering their planet does have 20% less gravity than earth as well. $\endgroup$ – Amoeba Apr 30 '18 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Amoeba I was starting from first principles by assuming they were close to real amoebas. Seeing what works, what doesn't, & then trying to find alternatives. Scaled-up amoebae was that starting-point. The protoplasmic stiffening is a half-baked idea which I'm still trying to figure out. Something like fibres or microtubules immersed in the protoplasm accumulating, where needed, and bonding together. They might function like muscle bundles (problem: no bones). Making pseudopods act like limbs has potential. Instead of a skeleton, what about a convoluted 3D labyrinthine structure [continues] $\endgroup$ – a4android May 1 '18 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ [continued] to partition the interior of the organism. This can act like a soft skeleton if it has enough strength to give support. Made of fibres similar to the 'stiffened bits'. This would be internally open to allow protoplasm circulation. Fibres could mesh together like velcro; less energy needed to assemble & take apart. Lower gravity helps with movement. You need a high density atmosphere too. For buoyancy. Sorry! This is thinking on the run. $\endgroup$ – a4android May 1 '18 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Amoeba A nice challenging concept. Apparently an amoeboid lifeform the size of human beings. This is one of those ideas that needs to be put on the back burner. To let the unconscious mind gradually put together the pieces so it can work (if it works, no guarantee there). This takes time. Hope a few of my half-baked ideas might help. $\endgroup$ – a4android May 1 '18 at 4:35

It sounds like you might need the bones' equivalent of lego.

Imagine (if you will) that instead of bones, the main body of the amoeba contains small cubes of bone like material. In its natural state, the body may look like chocolate chip ice cream in that regard, with the cubes floating randomly in the main body. But when a new shape needs to be formed, the cubes are reorganised and 'stacked' within the body, with new structures being formed that are maintained in their rigidity by the glutenous material around them stiffening and holding the cubes in place.

This would allow the creature to form limbs and other appendages off a main body with some rigidity around which the main form of the creature could maintain a shape.

This answer doesn't cover the issues of musculature et al which would make the bones actually useful, but assuming that the amoeba can repurpose its primary makeup into muscles, circulatory structures et al, then all you need is the strength reinforcement which this model may well provide.

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  • $\begingroup$ Could it also allow the main body to shape shift, say into more humanoid shapes? $\endgroup$ – Amoeba Apr 30 '18 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Amoeba it depends on the nature of the protoplasm in the amoeba itself and whether it has a definable membrane on the outside. Ideally there would be no permanent dermal membrane, and the creature would have the ability to alter its viscosity in localised areas to cling around the newly articulated skeleton. Things like eyes, skintones, hair and fingernails would be more problematic to emulate I'm afraid. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Apr 30 '18 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ They do have eyes and brains but aside from that all the other organs are dispersed on a micro level and the brain looks more like a thin intestine than any conventional brain $\endgroup$ – Amoeba Apr 30 '18 at 3:52
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    $\begingroup$ Instead of blocks it might make more sense to have ‘bones’ and ‘sockets’ Where the former are like our bones and the latter are spheres with multiple hemispherical holes the bones can be put into: that way you can have structure and a degree of flexibility. If you want to get really morbid: use the bones of any hapless animals/adventurers that may have been consumed. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Apr 30 '18 at 8:51

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