NPR

Would Aliens Look Like Us?

Though natural selection might have sculpted a well-adapted species on another planet, they wouldn't look like us, says guest blogger Jonathan Losos.
Source: Adventure Photo

The universe is teeming with earth-like planets.

In February, three were discovered circling a star, Trappist-1, 40 light years away. Last November, one even closer yet was found — four light years away — orbiting our next-door neighbor, Proxima Centauri. By one estimate, there are as many as 40 billion planets similar to Earth just in our Milky Way galaxy.

With so many potentially habitable exoplanets (as they are called), many believe that it is inevitable that life, even intelligent life, must have arisen on some of them.

But what would those life forms be like?

If we're to believe Hollywood, quite a lot like life here on Earth. From to to and beyond, most interplanetary science-fiction movies populate their worlds with lifeforms quite similar — in general appearance and biology — to what hastakes this approach to a new extreme, including , a humanoid evolved from a botanical ancestor (perhaps explaining its limited vocabulary).

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