I've been searching for a, at least for now, undefinable material that is other sort of creatures that has shapes and members on a different quantity/format from the habitual to us humans to see.

Creatures that has no members, 3 members, undefined shape, 1 member, 5 members, plane shape and so on. Of course, I know that on earth we don't have much about this, but I can't find even arts about that kind of creature, maybe its because of my criteria, I don't want creatures that looks like a cat but whit one more leg or a human shaped like a manta. What I've been searching for is more about the terrain that this creature lives an how the amount of members and its shape helps it to survive on that environment.

Something like the snakes (0/1 members), dragons(6 members), jellyfishes(0 members, undefined shape), manta (plane shape).

Or somethings I think like a bird without feet, just its wings, how it would stand? Maybe it lives all its life without even know what "ground" is, never standing and having a plan body to keep flying until its death. Or a creature that lives on the most vertical parts of cliffs that has only 2 feet to help on locomotion and a sticky mouth that keep that creature stuck on the cliff avoiding it to fall for some reason.

I can't believe that don't even exists an art line that try to imagine that kind of unimaginable creatures, thinking about its habitats, its shapes, habits and so on. I'm certain that I'm searching wrongly for it, so, you guys know how to find that kind of material? Discussion groups about this and etc?

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    $\begingroup$ Speculative evolution. And, of course, the splendid Rhinogradentia (the nasobames) and the adorable caminalcules. "Striding on its noses there comes the nasobame, with its young in tow. It isn't yet in Brehm's, It isn't yet in Meyer's, and neither in Brockhaus'; It trotted out of my lyre, when it first came to light. Striding on its noses thereon (as I've said above), with its young in tow, there goes the nasobame." (Christian Morgenstern, 1905) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 28, 2021 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ You could also take a look at Desmond Morris's (the anthropologist) artwork at the Tate gallery. I've also given your request for resources the appropriate tag. Feel free to revert if you see fit. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. I really appreciate your edits, I just don't know how to approve it! But thank you anyway $\endgroup$
    – Alecell
    May 28, 2021 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ could you please state a specific question you are trying to answer, right now we could just tell you to search Pinterest for alien life. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 2, 2021 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ Is this the question you are trying to ask? "Different body plans (shape, limb count) are adapted to different lifestyles and environments. Where and why would unfamiliar combinations be used?" $\endgroup$
    – Anon
    Jun 3, 2021 at 3:55

3 Answers 3


Finding inspiration from existing art

To my knowledge, there are at least two genres that lean an eye on this kind of creatures.

Horror and specifically Lovecraft-like horror

All Lovecraft creatures are monstrosities, which by their dreadful and/or multidimensional nature, cannot be understand by us.

There's one problem though, one that all artists have with this genre : Because they're undescribable, well, you'll rarely have data like "They have heads instead of extremities" or "This guy's 'arm' make a loop around its leg". But... If you look at visual arts, you'll get a glimpse of what people think they are, so it's a starting point.

"Underground" art

It's a bit of a high-risk high-value bet, but you might be able to find an artist whose style focus on the weird and unknown, pushing the limits of the meaning to its bitter end. The main issue is that there are a lot of variety in there, so you could lose yourself quite easily. It's rare to be indifferent to art so outside the mainstream, so you'll probably either love it or hate it. Still, that's where I'd look for to find really uncommon sights.

Unknown worlds can lead to unknown creatures

This part is a frame-challenge and an answer at the same time : If you tackle on the creation of a creature by yourself, know that most artists working on uncommon things take inspiration from things not often seen. Deep sea animals, bacterias, animals living underground... We know in our day-to-day less than 1% of all world-species and perhaps at most 50-60% look vaguely familiar to us. Therefore, as long as you search for the 40% left, you'll find tools of inspiration. There are books specialized in oddities, it's a matter of finding them and skimming them to get what you want.

Then, as you draw something out, it's a tendancy to add or remove things to make them more uncommon, or distort their plane of existance depending on the feeling you want to give. In fact, that's what you did when defining what you're looking for!

"Creatures that has no members, 3 members, undefined shape, 1 member, 5 members, plane shape and so on."

Indeed, you intuitively added or removed elements which are "normal to us" (2, 4 members for mammals or 6/8 members for insects/spiders) to describe the category of things you're looking for.

And watch out, unknown creatures lead to unknown worlds, too!

Because there's nothing in the created creature that we, the world readers, can reliably relate to, you'll automatically find yourself in a world of unknowns, where rules are and should bend to some extent. Take this as an insight : If you make a cub of tea that can roll over its eye-feet, it'll certainly feel out of place in a real-world inspired world. It'll feel as "alien".

Sooo... You'll either need to invent a whole cast of strange characters and rules which "does not make sense" to any human but them, or you'll have to discard it in favor of a simili-real world as this bazaar of oddities come from an unknown place and struggle to live in harmony with it.

It's just a matter of putting these thoughts onto concrete ideas now!

  • A creature may evolve without limbs if: it is a burrower that digs with its head, as in this case the limbs will have no function and only create drag; it is armoured or inedible, as armour would reduce the need for it to run away, and so it would have little need for limbs (toxins may be implausible, as there are many toxin-resistant predators in reality, and so they would also be expected in fictional worlds); or it is very unique and unlike other creatures, as this would prevent other, limbed animals from exploiting their niche
  • A creature may evolve with 3 limbs if: it is saltorial, as a saltorial animal may be benefited by a single fused hindlimb, which would be lighter than 2 limbs; it is a swift-like flier with the legs fused into one, as the leg(s) are only needed for perching, not for walking about; or it is aquatic, cetaceans could be considered 3 limbed (2 paired fins and a tail), and they are quite successful
  • A creature may lack a defined shape if: it is adapted for active camoflague, so it can flex into various forms; it likes to hide in tight cracks, where an unfixed shape would help it get into more cracks; or it has a shell, while the shell will be fixed, having unfixed flesh would allow the creature to retract into its shell while retaining different proportions to the shell while not retracted
  • A creature might have one limb if: it is saltorial, similar to the 3-limbed example, a single fused hindlimb could work better than 2 legs; it is aquatic, a fish-like herbivore with just a tail (and cillia or something like that) could work, with the tail being used only for escaping predators; or it has a proboscis as its limb, with movement handled as in the limbless examples
  • A creature may have 5 limbs if: it is aquatic, there are many aquatic animals which have 5 limbs, in the same sense as the cetaceans have 3 (These creatures always have a vertical tail that moves from side to side, as opposed to the horizontal cetacean tail that goes up and down); it lives in trees, there are many monkeys that use their tails to grab onto trees in the same way as their arms and legs, thus making them 5-limbed in a way; or it is a radial animal, 5 limbs is easily enough for a creature like a starfish to walk on, as shown by real starfish, and a radial form does provide some sort of benefit, again as shown by starfish
  • A creature may be flattened/planar if: it is a camoflagued creature, as it would stick out less and not bring attention to itself if it can flatten against the ground; it lives in reefs, many fish are tall and flattened, as this makes them more manoveurable in coral reefs; or it is a simple creature without dedicated gills/lungs, as a flattened form means that oxygen only has to penetrate half of the animal's thickness, rather than its width if it was cylindrical

I hope this helps


Start by thinking about your body axes

For vertebrates, up and down are different, forward and backward are different, but right and left are very similar to each other. So we have bilateral symmetry. An organism with no concern for which direction is which ends up as a round ball like a Volvox. An organism for which forward, backward, right and left are all the same ends up with radial symmetry, like a jellyfish or starfish, though on close examination the traces of a prior bilateral symmetry emerge.

Duplication and diversification

If a structure works, often it is repeated. Segments and legs of a centipede, ribs and fingers of a human, arms of a starfish. Think about how these repeated structures can be kept relatively similar to one another in regard to the body axes. But also think about how they could diverge in evolution - finger versus thumb versus toe, leg versus antenna.

Ignore rules freely

Narwhals are bilaterally symmetric, but one canine tooth turns into a spiral "horn", while the other fails to develop. You have wide leeway to change the body plan whenever there is a plausible evolutionary 'reason'.

The specific examples could use clarification - any one is a decent question. For example, the idea of a legless bird that never lands is common in mythology, most notably the Huma bird. That clearly could evolve, if the relevant practical difficulties in the life cycle can be surmounted. Worldbuilding species should have something of a mythological feel to it: they are a raid on the Garden of Eden of thought, legend, and logic, seeking things not yet released to our Earth. It's a noble pursuit.


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