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Is an alien lifeform covering itself comfortably in flames as a defense mechanism to wane off predators possible? I've heard of microbes surviving the extreme condition of outer space in complete vacuum and receiving high dosage of radiation, and a community of crustaceans thriving in hostile environments like the hydrothermal vents which spews corrosive sulphuric acid and boiling waters everywhere and the list goes on.

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  • $\begingroup$ Related: How could dragons be explained without magic? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 30 '15 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael not firebreathing and not fire resistance but like a phoenix covered in flames. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Mar 30 '15 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, right; I misread your question initially. You may want to edit slightly (particularly the title) to clarify; remember that the title is very important for how people perceive the question. If we posit the ability of a creature to survive surrounded by flames however, you'd still need to come up with a way to start and maintain such an exothermic chemical reaction, so I still think the linked question is related. (Note that I wrote "related", not a duplicate, which it is not.) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 30 '15 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling not harm intended I'll that the title seems confusing, please amend it for me if you will because English is my tongue. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Mar 30 '15 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ I bet their girls would be HOT. $\endgroup$ – Maciej Jul 28 '17 at 9:13
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Well, I think the "coolest" way to do this would be with a substance like rubbing alcohol that the creature sweats. Of course, having your sweat on fire would kind of defeat the purpose of sweating, which is usually to cool off. But a low temp. alcohol can sustain a flash point at room temperature, so they wouldn't necessarily need to actively keep an ignition source once the flame is lit, as long as they kept producing the fuel.

I was looking for specific temperatures of rubbing alcohol flames and didn't see any from good sources, but I did find this article on a 75C flame - http://www.seas.ucla.edu/prosurf/plasmapro.htm (though that requires exotic chemicals). I've read/seen magicians perform tricks with alcohol and while it still gets hot, a thick skinned creature could definitely do it.

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    $\begingroup$ amazing the creature can secrete chemicals that vaporize to form a layer of gas then generate spark from its organ like the electric eel and you get ionized gas a.k.a plasma to frighten predator I'm impressed. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Mar 31 '15 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. Which would be a pretty epic creature. $\endgroup$ – Josiah Mar 31 '15 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ Actually the burning would still cool the creature through evaporation since it's the alcohol Vapour not the liquid which burns, the issue is really thermal armouring of areas which the flame would lap onto. I know from experience that burning methylated spirits are shiver inducing cold on the skin as long as you keep your hands at the right angle but will give you nasty burns if the flame makes contact because its burning up onto skin. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 27 '17 at 17:48
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Yes, it is possible. The biggest caveat, however, would be that the creature must be able to create, from food, as much as energy as it is expending in maintaining the fire. For that reason, it will be more realistic if the creature is able to turn on the fire only when it senses a threat.

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    $\begingroup$ like cyndaquil from pokemon universe $\endgroup$ – user6760 Mar 30 '15 at 10:00
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If the creature in question "sweated" phosphine/diphosphine gas, natural byproducts of organic decay, when threatened then it would be feasible, the gases would have a low energy cost and they self ignite in contact with oxygen. The only issues really are how to store the gas, dissolved in tissue is safest and where to sweat it, you don't want phosphine glands anywhere that the resulting flames are going to lick up onto flesh, like in the armpits or groin but the outside of the arms and legs and across the back and shoulders could all be doable depending on the morphology of the creature in question (biped, quadruped, upright, hunched etc...).

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