Here on Earth, Life As We Know It is built around Carbon as the basic building block, with Water as the solvent. Our cells are made of carbon, and water is used to break down other carbons and move them around within and between the cells. Oxygen is produced via photosynthesis in plants, and Oxygen is consumed in respiration in animals.
In theory, at least, life might exist that uses some element other than Carbon as it's primary building block, and some chemical other than water as it's solvent (and using some other element for respiration) and would thus be an entirely different form of biochemistry. Such theories are the domain of Alternative Biology and Xenobiology. They can also feature in conjunction with Abiogenesis such as in Clay Theory, as early life might have used different biochemistries to the one that eventually dominated.
- Building blocks: (alternatives to carbon)
- Non-Water Biological Solvents: (alternatives to water)
- Respiration: (alternatives to oxygen)
Game and Story Use
- Useful for aliens, aberrations, monsters, cryptids, mythological creatures, etc. See Alien Biochemistry for more ideas and links.
- In most cases, various biochemistries can only exist in certain environments, and certain planetary conditions will result in specific biochemistries being impossible. See also Environment, Planet, Star and Interstellar Terrain.
- For ways in which traditional carbon-based life might be different from life as we know it, see Alien Biochemistry, Non-Green Photosynthesizers, and Alien Amino Acids.