Although carbon is the element used to form the backbone of biological molecules in our biochemistry, there are other candidates which have been suggested for the job. The combination of nitrogen and phosphorus is one of these options. Both nitrogen and phosphorus can form long chains under the right conditions, although they are not very stable. Together, they can form chains known as polyphosphazenes, which can attach to a variety of side chains for a variety of tailored properties, such as stability in water, biodegradability and elasticity, to make hundreds of different varieties.
The versatility of these chains means that nitrogen-phosphorus life based on similar compounds might be a possibility. There is not that much phosphorus compared to elements such as carbon and silicon, but it is used widely in our biochemistry and could be extracted and concentrated to much higher levels by living things, anyway. They might use water, or they might use Non-Water Biological Solvents. Any form of respiration or metabolism should have a nitrogen-phosphorus counterpart, so they might be able to breathe our oxygenated atmosphere and drink our water, but require nitrogen-phosphorus food.
Game and Story Use
- As a defensive mechanism, some nitrogen-phosphorus life might release red, acidic fumes of nitrogen dioxide, which could be quite a nightmarish response to trigger.
- Not to mention the number of nitrogen-based explosives, which might be easier to synthesize for a nitrogen-phosphorus species.