Questions tagged [biology]

For questions about living things. Does not exclude aliens, but additional information is usually necessary (consider using "xenobiology" instead).

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173
votes
18answers
64k views

How could dragons be explained without magic?

Dragons are a grand classic of fantasy. For this question, let's assume we're talking about the following stereotype: hatches from an ostrich-sized egg and can grow to mountain size if nothing limits ...
64
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4answers
6k views

Can you simply scale up animals?

There have been a number of questions focusing on mythical creatures where the logical approach to answering has been to scale up an existing animal. For example dragon's wings can be extrapolated ...
86
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14answers
9k views

Is there a scientific explanation as to why aliens should look similar to us?

In almost all science-fiction stories that include alien races, said aliens are similar to humans in many ways: bipedal (and often humanoid), communicate with sounds coming out of a mouth, orient in ...
35
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4answers
8k views

How to make a realistic 'giant'

Imagine a race of what we would call 'giants', each of them possibly around 8 to 10 feet (2.40-3.00 meters) tall. What differences would they need compared to us regular humans in order to function? I ...
19
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1answer
3k views

How to make a flying human

We are in a future where genetics has advanced to a point where arbitrary modifications can be done to living beings. Now a geneticist wants to make a flying human. That is, he wants to modify a human ...
46
votes
7answers
30k views

If accelerated natural healing were to occur, what would happen to the human body?

The Details: The human body is capable of impressive acts of self-repair, but such processes take a lot of time, and can take a toll on the body. Infection or other complications can also develop, and ...
58
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14answers
32k views

Would the human body support living on planets with a greater gravity than Earth?

I once read a novel about a prison-planet which was chosen to make the prisoners suffer. One of the different "tortures" was a gravity three times higher than that on Earth. Would the human body ...
48
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3answers
13k views

Is there a maximum size an ocean bound creature could grow to?

Assuming the ocean is deep enough and not overcrowded is there any upper limits to the size a "sea monster" can grow? On land creatures are limited by gravity, they have to be able to generate the ...
16
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6answers
4k views

What would be the tallest possible height for humanlike creatures in earthlike conditions?

This is about "giants" inhabiting a fictional earth-like planet somewhere in the Universe (like those in the movie Prometheus, for example). Assuming that all the conditions (temperature, gravity, ...
25
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7answers
6k views

Could life form in outer space?

All life we know of to date (presumably) formed on a rocky planet (more precisely: earth). Fiction has been written about life in more exotic locations. Though as far as I know, these lifeforms were ...
41
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12answers
5k views

Multiple DNA, one creature

Suppose a species possessed different sets of DNA for different parts of its anatomy. I'm not suggesting one set for every function in the body; that would result in hundreds of thousands of unique ...
37
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5answers
8k views

How would multi-race humanoid evolution happen?

If we were to pull the following races out of a D&D players handbook and remove them from the setting/history of Faerun and look at them from a biological/non-magic perspective (no other planes of ...
20
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3answers
2k views

Minimum brain size for consciousness?

In the limit, how small can a brain get and still host an identifiably human-like consciousness? Obviously, they can be smaller than an adult human's, since children (with smaller brain volumes) and ...
26
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7answers
6k views

How to Breathe Both on Land and Under the SEA

The popular image of a mermaid is a half-fish, half-human creature breathing fine above and below the surface. The only real-life analogy to this are the amphibians - frogs, toads and salamanders. ...
6
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2answers
2k views

Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton [closed]

Sometimes you just want to have a dragon, giant scorpion or a superhuman that has a bit more realism behind it than "it's strong, fast, can jump extreme distances despite it's weight and it's smart, ...
19
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3answers
6k views

What is the maximum size of a flying creature?

Giant winged beasts such as the Roc and the western dragon feature strongly in mythology. Is there a maximum size on a biological winged flying creature? How would an atmosphere different from Earth'...
11
votes
4answers
550 views

Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 3: Physical shock resistance

Part 1 here: Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton Part 2 here: Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 2: nervous system In most movies, comics and ...
40
votes
11answers
9k views

How do I explain a unicorn discharging powerful electricity at a distance?

I am thinking of copying the design of an electric eel to create the horn, however as air is not a good conductor of electricity it cannot discharge any electrical shock unless there is a physical ...
29
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3answers
3k views

How tall can a tree grow?

In my fantasy world I want fantastically large trees, particularly in the height category. The tallest trees on earth grow just over 100 meters tall. Why can't they get taller? What circumstances ...
22
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6answers
3k views

Living Planet Possible?

Although a question about how large a living thing could be has been asked and answered, would a being such as Mogo from DC's Green Lantern series be possible? Mogo is the size of Earth roughly can ...
21
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9answers
3k views

How fast could a directed breeding program turn another Earth species intelligent?

There is no genetic engineering allowed, just selected breeding and offspring selection. There is no genome sequencing, imagine medieval technology plus mendelian principles. The laws of heredity are ...
48
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12answers
4k views

Natural Projectile Weapons

I'm not aware of any animals which have evolved projectile weapons that they fire. There are a number that spit venom but none that even throw rocks, let alone using projectiles. On the other hand ...
14
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6answers
3k views

What would a Collective Consciousness look like?

The idea of a collective consciousness (Or Anthill) is pretty simple: instead of cells you have small sentient animal that make up a larger creature. This is different from a hive mind in that the ...
25
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8answers
4k views

Can an atmosphere englobe a planetary ring?

Would it be possible for the atmosphere of a planet to reach beyond its planetary ring so that earth-like biology could develop on some of the asteroids there? This question is mainly about whether ...
10
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4answers
767 views

Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 2: nervous system

Part 1 here: Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton This question is about a complete rebuild of the nervous system. The question as proposed here: Improving human ...
20
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6answers
7k views

Maximum size of an exoskeletal creature

On a world I am building, I have a species of creatures that evolved from crustaceans. The problem is that while they have an exoskeleton, they also live on a world with the same gravity as Earth. I ...
19
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2answers
1k views

Life on a planet with multiple gas layers

Could a terrestrial planet have a stable set of layers of atmospheres, and could different lifeforms evolve within those different layers? This question is inspired by the diversity found on Earth. ...
30
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5answers
7k views

Does living without access to sunlight for extended periods have known physical or psychological effects on humans?

Humans (even programmers :-) ) are used to having some access to natural light, but in a colony in space, on the dark side of a tidally-locked planet, or underground (for example) this won't happen. ...
23
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3answers
3k views

What colour is the foliage if the sky is violet?

This question on Physics.SE asks whether other colors are possible for the sky. I would like my planet to be inhabitable by normal humans. It has 768 days and they are living in a temperate/...
21
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5answers
5k views

Could plants develop intelligence?

I know the idea seems a bit far fetched but it's something I believe is common is science fiction and fantasy stories. I remember the talking trees of Zelda: Ocarina of time and of course, Tolkien's ...
13
votes
6answers
516 views

Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 6: Radiation protection

Previous parts here: Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 2: nervous system Creating a scientifically semi-...
10
votes
3answers
620 views

Space Whales, how to survive?

We have escaped the galactic government, and now our greatest endeavour yet, life in space. How will these gargantuan space entities eat and survive in space? The whale or other in question is the ...
48
votes
18answers
11k views

Is it possible for a species to have more than two sexes?

Every species I'm aware of on earth has two sexes (with the possible exception of species which change their sexes to allow self fertilization). Is it possible for a species to evolve which could ...
24
votes
7answers
31k views

How would the human body develop under a different gravity?

What would be the effects of high or low gravity on human body development? How would the human body develop under a different gravity? Many science fiction stories explore the idea that people from ...
25
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8answers
2k views

What could cause rock formations (small stones, boulders, islands…) to levitate?

You see this in quite a bunch of movies / books (think avatar). What could be a reasoned physical explanation of such phenomenon? Would this explanation impact other things on a planet? Like most ...
16
votes
7answers
1k views

What's a plausible way for a three biological sexes setup to develop for a dominant intelligent species?

It's easy enough to figure out how a species might evolve a third biological gender in general (e.g. some sort of asexual drones/workers, ala insects). But what I want to build is a system where the ...
22
votes
5answers
2k views

How might you detect a “life sign”?

It's a common trope in science-fiction: "scanning for life signs". A few taps on the screen, and you get an instant population count, often with the ability to distinguish species, and even personal ...
8
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4answers
1k views

Where do mushroom forests thrive?

Lichen are a symbiotic organism that involves algae or cyanobacteria living inside a fungus. The algae produce energy through photosynthesis, while the fungus protect the algae from the environment ...
16
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6answers
5k views

Anatomically Correct Pegasus

This is part of the Anatomically Correct Series. I've been wondering how an anatomically correct pegasus could evolve. Pegasus characteristics They are pretty obvious, but just in case: Horse size ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Creating a scientifically semi-valid super-soldier, part 4: respiratory system

Previous parts here: Creating a scientificly semi-valid super-soldier, part 1: Skeleton Creating a scientificly semi-valid super-soldier, part 2: nervous system Creating a scientificly semi-valid ...
55
votes
12answers
15k views

What kind of natural armor would stop bullets?

It should not resist 50 cal bullets, but an armor which could protect a creature from the US standard issue rifle, for example. Here are a couple of things the armor needs to do: Protect the creature ...
20
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4answers
4k views

Anatomically correct Arachne

In the fantasy culture it's not uncommon to find Giant spiders with the upper body of a human. There are many variants as the spider body having only 4 legs and the upper human body have 2 additional ...
15
votes
3answers
8k views

The Centaur--Let's Get Real, Shall We?

Undoubtedly, one of mythology's most iconic creatures is the centaur, a human being with his or her waist glued to the torso of a horse. For this post, we are avoiding the question of how ...
24
votes
4answers
4k views

What minimal radius is needed for rotation to simulate gravitation without adverse effects on humans?

A quite common idea to provide "gravitation" in space stations is to make them rotate, so the centrifugal force gives an effective gravitation. A possible design is a ring-shaped space station. Now ...
15
votes
5answers
855 views

How might kinetosynthesizing “plants” look?

Suppose that there is a moon, orbiting a gas giant, and that gas giant is a rogue planet - it moves freely through the universe, unbound by the gravity of a star. This means that one, the moon will ...
33
votes
4answers
64k views

How big would a pair of wings need to be to allow an adult human to fly in a given environment?

Lets indulge in a bit of Mad Science, here. Assuming the world described here: Making the Enterprise Fly (60% of earth's gravity, 50% denser atmosphere) what is the wingspan needed to allow an ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

What are the minimum set of physical characteristics to define an Earth like planet?

Introduction I have a vague notion of building some sort of strategic space game. Similar to other strategic games, locations are assigned value based upon some abstract evaluation. Following in ...
40
votes
5answers
6k views

How do centaurs get enough calories to live?

This is a partner question to How do centaurs get enough oxygen to run Centaurs are a common mythological figure, with the body of a man where a horses head would be. They usual exist in a fantasy ...
34
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6answers
8k views

How do centaurs get enough oxygen to run

This is a partner question to How do centaurs get enough calories to live? Centaurs are a common mythological figure, with the body of a man where a horses head would be. They usually exist in ...
22
votes
10answers
3k views

A Human Hunter with Sonic Powers?

As part of Fortnightly topic challenge #3: Creature Design I am looking for a realistic way to create a particularly nasty creature. What I would like: A creature that is capable of emitting a ...