49

The concept is sound and has already evolved, for example in the Planaria flatworm and other organisms. These organisms appear to store memories not (just?) in their brains but in specialized DNA sequences, that are then "re-read" upon occasion. As a result, a decapitated planaria will grow back its head and remember things that happened before it ...


25

Those articles claiming that sapience and civilization is near impossible without being omnivorous are (perhaps) suffering from anthropocentrism: "The only evidence we have is ourselves, so the only possible answer is like ourselves." You wrote that your species "primarily lives off meat and insects" (emphasis mine). So that means they do ...


14

Contrary to what I've always understood, and scientists believed until recently, parrots and corvids use their tongues to modulate the "vowel" sounds when they mimic sounds (songs of other birds, environmental sounds, animal calls, and even human speech). If a parrot or mynah were to lose its tongue, its ability to "talk" would be ...


11

Their sneeze reflex If they die when they sneeze, for the most part those with a sneeze reflex would die young and not reproduce. The surviving aliens will no longer have a sneeze reflex. It's a little too much of a hole to fill in a species design.


8

Unrealistic, but not impossible A blind child knows how to smile. A horse knows to start walking just after being born. Most creatures know how to eat and procreate. All this can be considered a form of genetic memory. For humans, memory in the brain happens in two ways. The neurons in the brain make certain connections. The more a connection is used, the ...


8

Many plants are poisonous or only grow in certain places at certain times of year; so, herbivores need a good memory and discrimination skills. Carnivores on the other hand benefit from complex reasoning skills and a certain sense of self-awareness to be effective at tracking, stalking, and ambushing their prey. The reason Omnivores are normally associated ...


8

The real issue here is a consequence of Trophic Levels and the Ten-Percent Law. As quick summary, significant energy losses occur every time an organism eats something, so it's getting about 10% of the energy that the thing it ate got from it's source of energy. Since every creature has some energy needs and civilization needs a lot of creatures in a (...


7

The human genome contains about 3.2 billion base pairs. Due to the way the 4 nucleotides pair up, each pair can hold 2 bits of data. So this translates to just 800 mb. So if you used the entire genome for memory and ignored all the stuff the genome is already doing, you could store about 1 CD's worth of data in the genome. This article estimates that the ...


7

Flaps were there first. How can I pass up a shout out for the awesome colugo? https://www.wired.com/2014/11/absurd-creature-of-the-week-colugo/ The colugo is an excellent glider. Its flaps are not unique; sugar gliders and flying squirrels are similarly structured but not closely related. You can see the colugo is well provisioned with flaps upon flaps - ...


6

Not really an issue. For conventional warships to be replaced by Kantai, the Kantai need to advantageously replace said warships. They must be better overall, and there must be very few scenarios where a warship couldn't be replaced by a reasonable number of Kantai (the less the Kantai cost, the higher that number). This is a complicated calculation ...


6

Absolutely. If we start with the human vocal tract as a base, without the tongue one could still pronounce voiced and unvoiced bilabial and labiodental trills, taps, fricatives, plain and aspirated plosives, affricates, nasals, and clicks; as well as velar/uvular fricatives, plosives, and nasals. That's at least 40 distinct consonants, probably more. And in ...


6

All you need is an organ that can controllably vibrate and modulate a membrane at high enough of a frequency. For a perfect example of this, look at a speaker. It has no tongue, or mouth, or even lungs for that matter, and yet it can make all the same sounds as the human voice and then some. The reason animals use our mouths at all is because we don't have ...


6

The other (excellent) answers bring up fascinating examples from real biology of creatures that seem able to store memories (to some extent) chemically, which could be directly inherited by offspring. This is a "proper genetic" memory: the actual memory information itself is encoded in genes or other inherited chemicals. However we can at least ...


5

Memory symbiont. Your cephalopods are not intrinsically very intelligent. But they are parasitized by an organism that confers intelligence. This organism resides entirely within the parent cuttlefish. The organism usually reproduces asexually, producing multiple buds and each bud makes its way to an egg. When the egg develops, it has within it a copy of ...


5

Alternate solution: Memory downloads I would suggest a possible alternate concept, which achieves the same end but doesn't require fancy DNA methods. Treat memory as data storage, and directly download memories from mom to baby. If the memory is stored in DNA, this is just another version. But this will work even if memory is stored by alternate methods. ...


5

If you want to do this just for cosmetic effect it is much easier. People can already set themselves on fire safely . This is done by using fuels that burn at low temperatures, and keeping the burn across the body as brief as possible (also note: DON'T DO IT AT HOME). It's the same principle as passing your finger through a candle flame: if the fire is brief ...


4

Animals can already make complex sounds without their tongues. I think you're just...thinking about the wrong end of the animal. There are even humans who are able to control such sounds to a remarkable degree. One can imagine a vocal system that uses a similar method - the control of airflow through a sphincter or series of sphincters and chambers to ...


4

There are several obvious ways this can be done. What comes to mind immediately: Housing: they never make tall buildings; they prefer to, well, burrow their homes & workshops & offices in the sides of hills perhaps their biggest cities are made along cliffs & ravines prime real estate is the deepest delving; the cheapest is out on the cliff face ...


4

I don't forsee much of a problem in evolving intelligence/sapience, but not eating plants makes it much harder to live by farming. You need a lot more land, or maybe very fertile land, to produce the same amount of calories from meat instead of plants. That makes it much more difficult to move from hunter/gatherers to farming communities, which are needed ...


3

You imply it by having them stay in burrows most of the time. They can stay on the surface. It is safe. But they don't like it. It does not feel right. They want to be wrapped in the earth - a feeling that was very adaptive to their ancestors. If this is prose fiction you can describe the discomfort of individuals out under the sky and their ...


3

No wings. source Or legs. They just add wind resistance.


3

Summary The sci-fi answer to your question is yes. There is a solution that involves coupling the spines and some other functions. This will work to create the first generation specimen prototypes, which the scientist can reiterate on until achieving sufficient results. An interesting point to note is the solution, in theory, can be produced fully from ...


2

Like stinging nettle There are many plants that use tiny hollow needles with poison. Check the Gimpy Gimpy for some horror stories. Having the goat as a species immune to it's own poison and injecting venom in anyone who touches the horns due to the tiny needles is a plausible method. With head butting people you can also be reasonably certain the tiny ...


2

Not impossible It can be that sneezing has been phased out, for whatever reason. Somehow they just don't sneeze anymore under their current circumstances. After many generations, the reflex might still be in place, like nipples on a man. Besides being there, in rare cases they are able to give off a liquid, suggesting that reflexes, despite being useless, ...


2

In principle, it is certainly possible for learned traits to be passed from mother to child directly. For instance, vertebrates commonly pass information on pathogens they have encountered in their lives down to their offspring via maternal antibodies. While this isn't information that was learned by the brain, this does constitute an evolutionarily ...


2

A Sneeze is the Alien’s Banshee Cry From Wikipedia: A sneeze, or sternutation, is a semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs through the nose and mouth, usually caused by foreign particles irritating the nasal mucosa. The function of sneezing is to expel mucus containing foreign particles or irritants and cleanse the nasal cavity. ...


2

Death penalty The aliens went through a pandemic at some point in their history. Lacking the science to understand it, they instead enshrined in their religions that people who sneeze are sinners who must be killed on sight. To make it more complicated for the aliens who sneeze, their anatomy is such that sneezing blows open a flap of skin on their noses. It ...


2

Reverse the Cause and Effect Relationship IE: They don't die because they sneeze, they sneeze because they died. Instead of being always open like in humans, the default position of the alien nasal cavity is closed off by a sphincter that is actively opened by muscle contraction to allow air in and out of the nose. A good way to justify this is if you aliens ...


2

A color wheel of textures is probably the easiest way to describe it, unless you want just hard lines separating the textures with no merging but then you wouldn't be asking this question. Anyways, your creature transition areas will probably look like a color wheel, where one color fades into another. Scales would gradually fade to feathers(or whatever ...


2

On Earth, for mammals, one of the potential problems is that intelligence is expensive, and requires omega-3s, which can be tricky to find in nature. Insects are apparently a potentially good source of Omega-3s (per https://www.infona.pl/resource/bwmeta1.element.elsevier-c89c5b3e-6a99-335e-94ad-4c556add6141). So, if you're in a place where there's a LOT of ...


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