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Kind of a "universal donor" or "universal recipient"? Aliens that can take on the qualities of several kinds of species and recombine them to make a kind of "super" being?

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, because everything is possible given the right circumstances. And with that: Welcome to WB.SE :) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Oct 17 '16 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ check out the Asari in the mass effect series masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Asari $\endgroup$ – Chris J Oct 17 '16 at 11:14
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    $\begingroup$ Are those species ("donor" and "recipients") alien to each other, or are they just alien to Earth, but might be closely related? $\endgroup$ – user8808 Oct 17 '16 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ Just a thought, but viruses are especially good at altering their structures to become compatible with different organisms. Why not put a species genetic material inside a virus-like organism, when the virus "mutates" to fit the hosts biology, the other creatures genes are passed on too, forming new life. $\endgroup$ – Harry David Oct 17 '16 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ I'm aware that certain cephalopods do rob others for their DNA and assimilate it much like the Star Trek Borg. And unless unless their chromosome pair up else all your offspring if any would be sterile. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Oct 17 '16 at 12:36
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Sorta yes. It may be possible, but not likely.

One issue is that we don't know if all life would be the same handedness. There is no reason it should be, in fact it should be about 50/50. How much the handedness of compounds matter can range from not mattering at all to being very potent toxins where if you expose someone to a compound that is left handed it will really be beneficial, but if its right handed it will kill them instantly.

But let's say all life works on basically the same RNA/DNA system. Well, then you're pretty much down to the programming analogy. Basically, there is no reason for some 4 bits to be one command and another be a different one. You're just randomly asigning them, but all PCs can run most OSs because they all use roughly the same base level command structure. Assuming there is limited amount of options for what those biological commands are (which as faras I can tell that is the case) then it should be possible to give birth to a given species by alien species (ignoring other issues). As in if bob the human mated with Susan the martian, susan could give birth to a human, but she could not give birth to Human-Martian hybrid from just this, because the commands are only for a human or a martian, not both. 1 BIOS can run at a time and 1 OS can run at a time...

So how do you get a hybrid? Shells. You can run a shell program which allows you to run another BIOS/OS on the same computer while running the main OS. The Shell OS can make alteration to the files and such just as the main OS, but the main OS is in charge and also you are expending more resources to run both. Is this possible with biology? I see no reason why not.

So you'd then get a hybrid Martian-Human, but the Martian would be dominant to the point where you might as well not call it a hybrid.

The alien from the movie Species and the Asari from Mass Effect both seem to work in outward appearance similar to this.

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  • $\begingroup$ Saying all life works based on the same RNA / DNA system is a huge, unlikely assumption that can make or break this question. Otherwise accurate $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Oct 19 '16 at 0:02
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"Is it plausible that there could be an alien species that has the capacity to mate with and share genetic material with many other alien species?"

No. Biology doesn't work like that. A human-Vulcan hybrid like Mr Spock couldn't arise via normal reproductive mating, but it could happen via biotechnology assisted reproduction. Fairly advanced biotechnology, but it's not inconceivable.

"Kind of a "universal donor" or "universal recipient"? Aliens that can take on the qualities of several kinds of species and recombine them to make a kind of "super" being?"

Again no. But again this could happen via genetic technologies whereby genes can be shared (assuming the alien species involved have reasonably compatible molecular biology or, as we used to call it biochemistry).

Genetic hybrids already exist and current genetic engineering techniques can make them. Aliens with advanced technology could carry this process to the nth degree. They could make some interesting recombinant organisms. These could be better adapted to a wide range of environments. But could this lead to making a "super" being? Very doubtful. The concept of a "super" being is a mirage at best.

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    $\begingroup$ You seem not to have taken your own conclusions to their logical extreme. If something is possible via "fairly advanced biotechnology," then it's possible to use even more advanced biotechnology to create an organism that can do it "naturally". $\endgroup$ – Azuaron Oct 17 '16 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Azuaron. An interesting thought. Glad you put "naturally" in quotes. This would be the equivalent of incorporating advanced biotechnology into your anatomy. It might be doable for limited ranges of biology; gene-plucking from Martians, but not Venusians (sort of). Keeping the advanced biotech extrasomatic might be both convenient & more effective. If it was possible, the organism might be overdeveloped for that one function. $\endgroup$ – a4android Oct 18 '16 at 3:02
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On its own, no.

  • Genetic material is not compatible. DNA is not compatible with structures of not only different chemicals, as would likely be present, but also different, non-helix shapes, making the combination of genetic structures extremely improbable if not statistically impossible.
  • If the genetic material is somehow adapted by exchanging most of the molecules for compatible chemicals, and changing the shape (which your organism, however complex, probably cannot do), the genes produced will not have the same meaning to decoding enzymes or machines. What may mean blue eyes for species A could be decoded as an exoskeleton for species B.
  • If you make the genetic molecules compatible, and make sure the genes represent what they are supposed to do, the offspring will likely be grotesque and malformed. Cross a human and a cow and you will not get a cow with a human head or a human with udders. Things will mix in a number of unpredictable ways and kill the organism. Picture a human with a compartmentalized stomach, fur, a skewed metabolism, and a circulatory system that doesn't go through the entire body, effectively killing the creature at birth.
  • If the body somehow functions, which is very very unlikely, the brain still probably won't. It will not have regions corresponding to every organ in the body, as a random combination of genes means not every organ gets representation. Additionally, it may have redundant regions that evolved to control something that this hybrid creature doesn't have.
  • Finally, if all of the above conditions are met, and through impossible statistics, the organism is able to develop and survive, it will die in utero. The mother organism will create the child using the nutrients it knows how to process for its own kind. It will not process the nutrients the other organism inside of it needs to grow effectively.

However, complex machines can always solve your problems.

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... I'm pretty sure there is an organism (not sure if single-celled or multi-cellular... though single-celled is more likely) which 'borrows' DNA from other organisms to add genetic variation & abilities due to being asexual reproducers. (From a quick google search i found that i might be referencing bdelloid's as they have this behaviour).

So it is possible to take genetic information from other organisms and use it to reproduce, the problem lies in whether your aliens have DNA/RNA or if their genetic code is compatible with other organisms.

I hope this answers your query.

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