A bit of a strange post here…
I’ve heard recently and watched a few videos on representatives of the US government have come out with real documents and had discussions involving the sightings and hands on experience with real non-human intelligent lifeforms. No real evidence has come out yet (photo, video, etc) to prove it, however, a quick google search along the lines of “US official UFO reports” lands many headings from popular news outlets;
Even an article as of today;
Thought this was quite intriguing. This post can either be as realistic or as fictional as you’d like it to be since I don’t expect anybody can actually predict this stuff accurately, but how do you think the taxonomic ranking would work for the species considering they are most likely not from earth?
-A fun thought experiment I thought about just now. Also, feel free to add any extra details you think would be interesting or fun!
For inat taxonomy? It would make ‘State of Matter Life’ polyphyletic. And we’d have to either just accept Animalia becoming paraphyletic or create millions of separate kingdoms for each time sentient life has evolved throughout the cosmos. I suppose that would mean that the various alien-human hybrids in Star Trek are potentially inter-kingdom hybrids.
If some alien species was sufficiently advanced to travel to Earth, wouldn’t it have likely experienced many more forms of life along the way and probably have a way more robust taxonomic system than us? Might as well dedicate the energy to trying to ask them and retrofit our own into theirs.
Yes, you’d need “Earth Life” and “Gzzorgogio Life” etc. for the separate originations of life. And since we cannot reasonably speculate about how evolution would proceed with biochemistry we know nothing about, there is little to be said about what taxonomy would be useful for those unknown organisms.
I will note that the rise of (mostly former) US government officials coming out saying they’ve seen evidence of alien life comes at a time when conspiracy theories and attention grabbing “alternative facts” have gained traction in many areas of US public discourse. One need not follow US politics for very long or very closely to know that many "representatives of the US government " emphatically embrace all sorts of demonstrably false stories that generate attention for them. I don’t want to have a political argument, nor do I have a strong opinion on whether Earth gets visitors, but I do think it would be surprising, given the realities of US politics, if we didn’t have officials coming forward to announce aliens.
What would be even more interesting is if it turned out that interplanetary life was not polyphyletic.
I imagine any life not from our planet would be completely unique taxonomically and would need completely unique taxonomy because of that.
“UFOs confirmed” is contradictory. You can’t confirm something that is unidentified. The term UAP is probably a better term for things seen in the air that have not been explained as it has less baggage. I’m skeptical that any of these reported phenomena have anything to do with extraterrestrial technology.
If we knew of other organisms on another world that arose entirely independent of ours, we’d need a taxonomic level above all the current ones to define ours versus the other, if we were going to use Linnaean taxonomy. Maybe the category could be called Biota. Presumably taxonomic homonyms would be allowed if they are in different Biota.
If we use the clade-based approach to taxonomy, we’d first need to figure out if panspermia was a correct hypothesis or not, at least with respect to a given planet. Then above domain (or superkingdom), there could be a rank identifying the solar system & planet of origin. Lifeforms on Planet Earth might be Sol-3 (or Sol-4 if life first evolved on Mars) or Sol-Terra (keeping with Latin) or Sun-Earth.
I’d be most curious to know whether other species in our galaxy still use a DNA or RNA-like molecule for information storage.
Yes, the common fallacy that Unidentified = Extraterrestrial + Life is a sad statement on the critical thinking skills imparted by our current educational systems.
I see UFOs every time I go birding. Maybe they’re extraterrestrial but most likely they just signify my poor birding skills.
Ah, makes sense. At first I was surprised there’s no ‘Agree’ button under ‘Unknown’ observations.
Weather balloons and our space junk? Off earth obs of human garbage.
One article I saw stated that a former DoD guy said that “non-human biologics” had been recovered in association with alleged extraterrestrial technology. I like that term – that’s what iNatters spend their days IDing. I’m going to go out today and look for some non-human biologics.
Great someone clarified that! UFO is a more recognised term, hence why I used it. Wasn’t quite sure if everyone was familiar with the term “UAP”, so my title may be a little misleading so sorry about that!
If there is at least one lifeform that can communicate with humans and our civilisations are not antagonistic, I would go the easy and diplomatic route and adopting their system of taxonomic classification for the non-Earth taxa that they discovered.
Loving this thought experiment/discussion. Great post!
I don’t know whether these claims are real or not, but i believe as an ecologist and scientist that it is very likely complex life is abundant in the galaxy.
My personal opinion is this: If we are able to look at life on multiple fairly earth-like planets we will be shocked at how similar it looks. Yes there will be weird differences, but overall forms like trees, grazing animals, pack hunting carnivores, even more specific things like cactus, will have analogs across the galaxy with very similar forms. I believe we will need to create a parallel type of classification that is based on form, not genetics, that will lump things not by relation, but by similar forms that are abundant throughout the galaxy. In this form, for instance, ginkgos and oaks might be in the same family, along with things from Alpha Centauri that have big flat leaves that turn color and fall off. Etc.
No idea if i’m right, but it’s my guess.
are these aliens lumpers or splitters? :D
If they’ve made it to the stars, I’m sure they know all about nuclear fission vs. fusion (the really important splitting vs. lumping). And if they survived that part of their technological development, they probably have a taxonomy for organisms that avoids all the problems of our Linnaean system.