How to Create Alien Species

Biology is a vital aspect of worldbuilding. Your characters will be biological creatures, as will their food needed for survival.
For simplicity, you can use familiar animals like chicken, sheep or cows, and plants like cotton, corn or sugar. There are hundreds of considerations though.

You could make fantasy animals and plants. This gives foreign worlds an in depth, and unique, alien feel.

It’s hard listing racial differences without sounding racist. I despise racism in all forms, so refuse to.

My belief is we should focus on similarities, such as the human condition, rather than differences. The human race is more important than perpetuating stereotypes. Nevertheless, differences create personality.

As fantasy writers, we are lucky we can centre features other than skin colour, which has the ability to offend, and focus on other fascinating things about people. You could also make sentient or sapiens races, in the form of robots, animals, ghosts - anything you like.

Vitruvian Man
Thanks to Leonardo da Vinci's mastery, humanity has his wonderful creation - the Vitruvian man. It’s a beautiful construct of merging art and science.

It cleverly combines solving an unsolvable mathematical problem called ‘squaring the circle’, while using human dimensions showing the link between squares and circles.

Using his dimensions helps plan sizes of your humanlike beings. This is because average humans follow these rules. It is likely aliens will do the same. If your aliens are 180 cm tall, their feet will likely be 30 cm. It also helps planning, and drawing character pictures.

I refer to the arm as ‘Top-Arm’. Medically, arm refers to the top arm only, with lower arms referred to as forearms. A palm is four finger widths. A cubit is a forearm and hand length combined.

·         Height = 1 Arm-Span
·         Height = 2 Leg Lengths
·         Height = 3 Head Circumferences
·         Height = 3 Torso Lengths
·         Height = 4 Shoulder Widths
·         Height = 4 Cubits Lengths
·         Height = 5 Top-Arm Lengths
·         Height = 6 Feet Lengths
·         Height = 8 Forearm Lengths
·         Height = 8 Head Lengths
·         Height = 8 Head Heights
·         Height = 10 Head Widths
·         Height = 10 Hand Lengths
·         Height = 20 Eye Widths
·         Height = 20 Nose Widths
·         Height = 24 Ears Lengths
·         Height = 24 Noses Lengths
·         Height = 24 Mouth Lengths
·         Height = 24 Neck Lengths
·         Height = 24 Palms Widths
·         Height = 96 Finger Widths
·         Naval = 1/2 of Height
·         Nipples = 1/12 - Height, below Shoulders
·         Face = 1/3 - Forehead, 1/3 - (Ears, Eyes, Nose), 1/3 - (Mouth, Chin)

There are hundreds of thousands of animal species. Far too many to consider them all, so focus on few. I suggest making alien types.

Be wary of your alien species being so similar to earth creatures, that it was pointless making fantasy versions. You can also use tropes such as unicorns, phoenixes and more.

Decide which animals of your created animals are wild and tame. Taming uses are for work or pets.

The animal kingdom splits into two categories. The categories define whether species have backbones, the vertebrae.

·         Vertebrates - Fish, Amphibian, Reptile, Bird, Mammal
·         Invertebrates - Insect, Mollusc, Crustacean, Coral

On larger worlds, creatures will be smaller than Earths, due to an increased gravitational pull crushing them. They can still grow massive, but will be close to the ground, and are likely to have exoskeletons, like millipedes.

Like most Earth species, alien creatures are likely to be tetrapods, having four legs, or arms, and a head, as extremities. They are also likely to show bilateral symmetry, with right and left sides externally mirroring each other.

Predators also need to be twice the size of prey. Being bigger means you are likely to be faster, have more energy to chase, and be stronger to dominate. Small predators can work in packs to tackle larger animals.

If your atmosphere isn’t dense, you may not be able to have flying creatures. Flight is only possible in thick air.

I suggest less is more when creating fantasy botany. Only focus on what characters use. Uses can be for food, clothing, building, art, anything.

Like animals, there are hundreds of thousands of plants, again, too many to consider mentioning all of Earth’s.

The main sub-types of plant are mosses, ferns, algae, grasses and conifers. Fungi and fungus are organisms not included within plant types, but are worth considering.

A good story theme, and way to destroy characters lives, is giving them diseases. Send heavenly plagues.

Virus and diseases are devastating to humans, plant or animal population. Plants, animals and humans all suffer from disease, so consider making viruses for each.

There are thousands of diseases. This lists a small portion of them. Each has its own symptoms. Research them, or create your own fantasy illnesses.

·         Skin - Acne, Alopecia, Blister, Burn, Cyst, Dermatitis, Eczema, Spot, Ulcer, Warts, Psoriasis, Jaundice
·         Endocrine - Diabetes, Hyperglycaemia, Osteoporosis, Rickets
·         Infectious - Anthrax, Botulism, Chickenpox, Cholera, Cold, Cowpox, Dengue, Diphtheria, Gangrene, Hepatitis, Influenza, Leprosy, Malaria, Measles, Meningitis, Monkeypox, Mumps, Plague, Rabies, Rubella, Scabies, Sepsis, Shingles, Smallpox, Tetanus, Tuberculosis
·         STD - Aids, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis
·         Mental - Alzheimer’s, Bipolar, Dyslexia
·         Other - Allergies, Cerebral Palsy, Arthritis, Asthma, Bronchitis, Cancer/Leukaemia, Dehydration, Melanoma, Pneumonia, Scurvy, Septicaemia, Tonsillitis, Typhoid, Typhus

Agriculture includes crop growing and harnessing. It also includes animal domestication, husbandry and fancy.

Crop Farming
This involves planting crops in three or four year cycles. The field will be fallow for a year to regenerate nutrients.

This involves harnessing water from rainfall, or through irrigation via rerouting rivers.

Animal Farming
This includes all poultry such as chickens, ducks or geese. Eight fifths of the human population is sufficient to feed everyone.

Cows eat 24 lb, or 10 kg, of grass/hay per day. Horses eat 20 lb, or 9 kg, per day.

Meat production needs to be four fifths of the human population. This is because meat animals are larger than birds. They can be cows, pigs, horses, camels, sheep, goats or any large meat animal. The animal market depends on the livestock is available.

Happy Creations!

More Information: CultureMagic, Religion, PoliticsTechnology

Jim M