Think of Saturn.

In this book, some people travel to a gas giant with rings and find an ecosystem in the rings of a planet. It has predators and prey. It has plants and animals. Autotrophs and Heterotrophs. Here are details of the organisms living here.


-they are Autotrophs

-They absorb nutrients slowly from nearby rocks by roots. They anchor themselves to multiple rocks by a strong root system, they break occasiqnly.

-They reproduce by extending roots to other rocks too. Like a quaking aspen.

-They get energy from the nearby star.

-They are adapted to low gravity, no atmosphere, low nutrients (high nutrient, including oxygen, in rocks).


-They Are Heterotrophs

-They are adapted to low gravity, low nutrients, and no atmosphere.

-They get all energy from plants and other animals.

-They are adapted to jump to rock to rock.

-Extremly strong exoskeleton to withstand the vacuum of space.

-They communicate by vibrations through rocks, thus being on same rock to communicate.

-Reproduce by laying eggs under rocks in asteroids.

-They go around in packs.

-Packs attack other packs.


Now my question is with all their adaptations, could they even exist?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you show us what researches have you done? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Oct 1, 2018 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! This question is currently too broad. What kind of materials? What organism? What are their needs in terms of atmosphere, nutrients, and energy? Will they need to stand up to rocks hitting them? Will they be anchored to a certain rock? What size rocks do you have in mind? Try answering some of these questions in an edit to your post. As it is right now, there are two ways to answer this question, either "whatever you want" or an entire book about it. Please describe in greater detail the organism and the conditions they will live in. $\endgroup$
    – John Locke
    Oct 1, 2018 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it is possible for life to live there but there is not time for life to develop. Rings are temporary. The rings are generally in the process of de-orbiting. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Oct 2, 2018 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ I like the premise but Locke is right - too broad. Ask just one - maybe about the possibility of your plant analog living on a ring. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 22, 2018 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ Niven's Integral Trees universe $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Oct 22, 2018 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


Yes, I can picture a hypothetical where this would be possible.

First, the thing about ring systems is, they probably don't last very long in terms of geologic time scales. For instance, recent data from the Cassini probe suggests that Saturn's rings might be younger than 100 million years old. One hundred million years is certainly a long time, but probably not long enough for life as we understand it to appear and evolve into the sort of organisms you're describing.

However, your ecosystem could have evolved in a similar environment elsewhere and then migrated to the ring system. One way I can see this happening is if you had a moon with conditions like Enceladus, where there's vacuum or near-vacuum on the surface, and a liquid water environment under the surface. This would provide a comparable evolutionary environment for what you're describing.

Then, I can picture a few ways they get into the rings. The first would be if the moon drifted progressively closer to the planet over billions of years, and was eventually ripped apart by tidal forces (thus creating or adding to an existing ring system), and your organisms survived this; essentially, they'd be hanging out on the remains of their homeworld at first. Another way would be for tidal forces to cause geysers to spew out material into the ring system, and your organisms occasionally get yanked along for the ride. Or one or more smaller bodies slam into the surface of the moon and knock some debris back into the ring system with your organisms on it.

These conditions are theoretically plausible. We know (to the best of our knowledge) that ring systems are formed by smaller bodies being ripped apart by tidal forces, and from things like Enceladus' geysers adding material to them. Additionally, we know that Enceladus is shooting complex organic structures into Saturn's rings.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That fixed a big hole in my story, and even more! Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Aaron
    Oct 2, 2018 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Aaron Glad I could help. :) $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Oct 3, 2018 at 19:32

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