I am thinking about an alien species that secretes its own biosuit and I am wondering if they can secrete a substance with enough compressive and tensile strength to create strong objects and structures.

Things that come to mind when thinking about this substance that could be secreted at high speed are spider silk and hagfish slime, spider silk has high tensile strength and a hagfish can produce a very large amount of slime in short time by releasing tiny coiled up slime strings which quickly expand and overlap in water to form a large volume of slime. For high compression strength chitin or bone could be used but the speed for those to form solid structures is a lengthy process.

Is there a way to combine the compressive strength of known biological materials with the speed of secretion of other biological substances and have the secreted substance form into a high strength solid in a short amount of time (minutes to hours) which gives the species enough time to mould it into shape or spread it in layers before it solidifies? What minerals, proteins or other nutrients/chemicals would this creature need to produce such a material if at all possible?


2 Answers 2


Hint: its brown and sounds like a bell.

dung brick

Cow dung brick

Your aliens make their exosuit out of their own quick-drying dung! There is much honorable precedent; caddisflies and other larvae make fine armor for themselves out of balls of "frass" aka dung. As regards compressive strength and other desired qualities, if cow dung on ordinary cow diet can do for bricks, just think about the formidable dung qualities your intelligent aliens can induce in their dung by modulating their diet according the their near term dung needs.

Your aliens produce vast quantities of dung, which they save for making not only their armor, but their houses and many charming household items. Certain individuals might be sought after because of the high quality of their dung for certain applications. I hope your protagonist might be one of these.

  • $\begingroup$ The image of this is just, strange. Culture and sanitation would be very different in a society like this. $\endgroup$
    – Topcode
    Apr 13, 2022 at 13:48

Let Something else do the Hard Part:

There are a few alternatives, depending on how you want to interpret things. If you don't consider this secretion, that's your call.

  1. Pykrete: Your organisms gather grass and twigs from the cold environment they live in and spray the mats down with water they suck up and spit back out. These structures are surprisingly strong and hard, subject only to degrading once the weather warms up.
  2. Cement mixers: Your organisms take advantage of naturally occurring minerals and aggregate in the environment, chemically altering it slightly to allow them to make a simple form of cement and concrete. Again, the environment does most of the heavy lifting, with the organisms just being smart or cleverly instinctive.
  3. Sap: Your creature has a double stomach and a taste for oozing tree sap. This sap is eaten and diverted into the second stomach, where enzymes, moisture and heat liquify and solubilize it. On need, the creature regurgitates this sap mixture like glue, pouring it over a matrix of grass, sticks, etc. to form a solid, fibrous mass like paper Mache and chicken wire in consistency. Depending on the composition of the sap, it may harden into an insoluble and durable material

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