Special Report

What Will Extraterrestrial Life Look Like?

Illustrator David Aguilar melds art and science to imagine how alien creatures might adapt to their environments

It is time that we drop Hollywood’s humanoid view of extraterrestrials. In reality, David Aguilar says, “We are going to find bizarre adaptations.” (David Aguilar)


(David Aguilar)

Arclandia, a rocky water world where temperatures fluctuate from -25 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, is much like Earth during its ice ages. On it, Aguilar imagines there being a seal-like creature, with a peculiar way of hunting.

“Instead of jumping down and biting something, it extends its very long tongue with fish hooks on it,” he explains. “It grabs an obaki [the red critter in its mouth, similar to an octopus] and reels it in just like somebody who went fishing for the day out on the ice.”

Two large lung sacs on the seapups’ blue bodies inflate and deflate to help them ascend and descend in the water. And, Aguilar says the “friendly beasts” like to tickle each other.


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