Questions tagged [creature-design]

For questions regarding the viability of a life-form design. These questions should focus on biologically plausible creatures.

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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 ...
147
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7answers
15k views

Anatomically Correct Strange Women In Ponds Distributing Swords

Chaos plagues the land. In the West, the King in Orange blusters and bloviates endlessly in barely comprehensible gibberish. Perhaps he is attempting to call forth the Elder Gods? In the East, the ...
82
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19answers
18k views

Would a 'World Tree' be feasible in real life?

A livescience.com article claims that trees can reach a theoretical height of 400 to 426 feet (122 to 130m). This is due to the tree being unable to carry water up to the top at that certain point due ...
70
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15answers
12k views

Designing an animal that wants to be eaten

So I had a funny idea, somewhat based off the cow in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the Hitchhikers Guide. You know the one—that wants to be eaten and whose only purpose in life is to be ...
69
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11answers
13k views

Anatomically correct “XKCDius lethalissimus”

Inspired by today's XKCD comic How could a creature, momentarily called XKCDius lethalissimus, evolve to have the following features: Be radioactive (intended as more radioactive than the ...
66
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8answers
6k views

How often must carnivorous grassland eat?

Don't go into the bonegrass. Seriously, unless you want to be dead. You go in there, brush the grass with your clothes, start to feel sleepy... Before too long your limbs will go numb, then you're on ...
63
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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 ...
61
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15answers
10k views

Why would two species of predator with the same prey cooperate?

The question is pretty straightforward: Why would two species of predator with the same prey cooperate? I am looking for answers in the following context: Limited food supply, which means scarcity ...
61
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14answers
9k views

Physically, how do dragons grasp and *transport* the contents of their hoards?

If we accept that dragons are big and they hoard gold and gems (and don't make or mine these baubles, themselves), how do dragons physically manipulate and transport human/elf/dwarf-sized coins and ...
60
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12answers
8k views

Justifying why a troll's skin would turn to stone in sunlight

It's a fairly common legend that trolls turn to stone when exposed to daylight, and I was thinking about using such a creature in a story. I'm searching for a plausible way of justifying such a ...
59
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15answers
12k views

Is Cancer Biologically Universal?

Cancer works by making cells split and reproduce at an accelerated rate, slowly and painfully killing the afflicted. Its true weapon lies in its ability to surpass the immunity system. As far as I ...
59
votes
9answers
7k views

How does the Booze-Rat fuel its defensive mechanism?

Of all the creatures in Hatjörn's dominion, there is none as peculiar as the Murinae Spirita, the mean booze-rat. A vermin so resilient that has developed the most wondrous means of defence and thus ...
58
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29answers
11k views

What are the conditions in which a creature would evolve more than one brain?

Would any creature ever need to evolve a second (or multiple) brain(s)? If so, under what conditions, why, and what implications would it have on the creature's intelligence? Note that while an ...
58
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4answers
6k views

Anatomically correct metalhead, part 1 - headbanging

In the Land of Metal, there exists a tribe that has upheld the gospel of Manowar with such zeal that it modified their bodies. Metalheads descend from humans, and may look human at a glance. A more ...
57
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11answers
10k views

Why is this creature afraid of water but not of body or plant fluids?

I have a creature or more accurately creatures that I have a problem with. I can't figure out why it is afraid of water. They are landbased tiny tiny little piranha like organisms that work in unison....
56
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21answers
12k views

Why would merfolk have hair?

A classic image of mermaids are their long flowing hair that swishes in the water. But in the scientifically realistic sense this makes none. The hair would be nothing more than a nuisance to the ...
53
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25answers
8k views

Lifeform - resistant to gunfire but vulnerable to melee

Is there a plausible makeup for a lifeform which is highly resistant to even very advanced firearms (or any ranged weaponry for that matter), but can be injured more readily (albeit still a major feat)...
52
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37answers
11k views

Shapes for an infinite animal?

This creature exists in an infinite world, a flat landscape that extends ad infinitum, where light rains from the sky from infinity during recurrent day-night cycles, and, similarly, the ground goes ...
50
votes
10answers
12k views

How can a fish that explodes by itself prosper enough to reproduce on a grand enough scale to persist as a species?

In the underwater survival game Subnautica there is a fish called Crashfish that, upon being too close to it, swims out of its plant to chase you and eventually explode. The explosion leaves no ...
50
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5answers
6k views

Anatomically correct sharknado shark

Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which flightless animals fall from the sky. Such occurrences have been reported in many countries throughout history. One hypothesis is that ...
50
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6answers
7k views

Could Cobalt bind to nitrogen the same way iron would to oxygen in an alien respiratory system?

I'm making this whole other alien world and I made it an ammonia world, so there is a lot of nitrogen in the atmosphere. Would nitrogen be a good gas to breathe in an ammonia world and would Cobalt be ...
49
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13answers
7k views

Why would an underwater creature remain lodged to its prey?

Enter the [Insert cool and awesome Latin name here] - this species is 3 times the size of a lobster from front to tail, and a powerful hunter. Operating in swarms, they are my worlds equivalent of the ...
49
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9answers
10k views

Could an organism have evolved to kill its prey by shouting at it?

I've recently been replaying Skyrim (for about the fifth time now), and I've stumbled across something I thought would make for an interesting question. The Greybeards are a group of extremely ...
48
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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 ...
48
votes
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 ...
47
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11answers
8k views

Is it possible for two symbiotic lifeforms to be born from the same egg?

Firstly, I'm not looking for an organism that gives birth to two separate species (like a human that gave birth to a human baby and a puppy) as I'm fairly sure that is impossible (though feel free to ...
46
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8answers
7k views

How do creatures with a hive mind communicate?

Suppose we have a civilisation which is made up of many creatures sharing a single hive mind. Each creature can see, hear and remember what each other member of the species (or possibly hive) has seen ...
44
votes
15answers
13k views

How could elves survive without any fat cell in their body?

Have you ever seen a fat Elf? I haven't, and I think there's an unexpected reason. You see, Elves aren't really the best workers or at least working the land and cultivating food is not something ...
44
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11answers
7k views

Anatomically Correct Phoenix

The Phoenix appears in Greek mythology and are most commonly seen as beautiful golden birds that burst into flame and are reborn from the ashes. Is there a realistic way that they could evolve? Using ...
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 ...
41
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17answers
10k views

How would a tripedal animal walk?

Animals on Earth have 2 or 4 legs they use for walking. On another world, however, animals have 3. I want to know how these animals will walk. How will their legs be placed and how will they move them ...
41
votes
9answers
9k views

How could I scientifically explain ice breath?

I'm sure there have been questions on here about fire-breathing dragons, and I recently saw a question about a lightning-breathing dragon, but back in fifth grade I wrote a 150-page story about a ...
41
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8answers
4k views

A three foot cell?

In one of my fictitious planets, there are large cells that reside in the ocean and are 3 feet (almost 1 metre) in diameter. The cells themselves are aggregates of many amoeboid cells, have only one ...
41
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6answers
5k views

How do I prevent my turtle from collapsing under its own gravity?

Suppose the universe contained a species of planet sized turtles1 that can travers at least interstellar space. How can I explain (without invoking magic) that these turtles are not spherical? If ...
41
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5answers
3k views

Why does my species tock like it ticks?

Starting with a creature and its environment, how does one create its psychology? Evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology attempt to explain attributes that we observe in our fellow humans ...
40
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20answers
6k views

How expressive is a color-based language?

In the answers to this question I learned that some cephalopods communicate via color: Some cephalopods are capable of rapid changes in skin color and pattern through nervous control of ...
39
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8answers
8k views

What would a Giant’s voice be like?

As per my previous question on giants, if the average human is 5′10″, and he is scaled up to 50 feet whilst remaining proportionately correct, would this have any effect on what he sounds like? I'm ...
38
votes
10answers
13k views

Suppose the Orcs are mammals, why is their skin green?

Most species of animal, especially mammals, have a special skin cell the produces melanin, which is responsible for the color of their skin, but orcs are generally depicted as green creatures and, of ...
38
votes
14answers
7k views

Would a sentient species be able to thrive when mating means the death of the male partner?

There is a species that is quite sentient. Its members know about the world, they have hopes and dreams and great aspirations of what they might do with their lives. They are intelligent, creative, ...
38
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13answers
15k views

Could a creature evolve a biological “bulletproof vest”?

A variety of Earth species have hard, more or less rigid shells covering parts of or their entire bodies as a defense against predators. These work to a varying degree depending on the specific ...
37
votes
12answers
9k views

Creature that swims in the solid ground

I have a moment in my story where the main character comes across a planet with "solid" swamps. Let me explain. Basically, there are creatures here that can swim through the ground like it was some ...
37
votes
16answers
8k views

What kind of supernatural powers don't break the masquerade?

I'm designing a world a of supernatural beings loosely based on Christianity/Judaism as described in Naming the forces of the Purgatory? who visit Earth without humans being aware of them. They ...
37
votes
12answers
6k views

What are the evolutionary benefits of mating for life, as opposed to serial monogamy?

I have a sapient (alien) species that behaves more or less similarly to humans, and that includes their romantic interactions. However, although they court/date each other much like we do, there is a ...
35
votes
15answers
8k views

Why would the mouth of a creature evolve to be away from the head?

Exhibit A: The apex predator of my world, one that can both fly and swim under water. This deadly monster employs 4 limbs - they act as wings in the air, and fins in the water. It hunts for game in ...
35
votes
10answers
5k views

Anatomically Correct Carnivorous Tree

How might a carnivorous tree look or work? The following conditions must be met: Consumes members of the biological kingdom 'Animalia' Possesses something resembling a trunk or stem of any kind ...
35
votes
10answers
7k views

Is it more likely that merfolk would evolve with horizontal or vertical tails?

Another mermaid questions I'm afraid! Fish have tail fins which are vertical, whales have fins which are horizontal. My race of merfolk are: Very active (more likely to be warm blooded) Have gills ...
35
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
34
votes
17answers
10k views

An underwater creature that could take down a boat

Imagine that when Christopher Columbus sailed West in his Carrack to travel around the world to reach India, he had never made it to land, because halfway across the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and ...
33
votes
17answers
12k views

How to defend when attacked by an avian species?

Bird people are humanoid creatures with a wingspan of 4 meters, they are as tall as humans and the fittest of them weight 72 kilograms or slightly less, so they are quite lighter than the average ...
33
votes
9answers
7k views

Anatomically Correct Medusa

Medusa is a legendary myth about a woman with snakes for hair that turns anything she looks at into stone. How can I achieve both of those features in an animal realistically? And how would these ...