‘Shadow Biosphere’ theory gaining scientific support
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April 13, 2013: An increasing number of scientists believe that there are alien ecosystems right on Earth which so far have not even been identified as life. An example of this is so-called desert varnish, whose formation cannot be explained yet. The scientists are calling this the "shadow biosphere" and are now contemplating how to detect such life. If this hypothesis is correct and tests can be developed to detect such life forms, then other planets can also be tested for them.

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Game and Story Use

  • This is basically the excuse for introducing any kind of weird critters to your campaign which can't be explained by conventional biology.
  • A shadow biosphere would need to be hard to detect or trace, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's small. It might just be very exotic and hard to recognize. It might seem to be an atmospheric quirk like ball lightning or a strange chemical mixture like mercury-aluminum amalgam. It might require specific conditions, such as hot and arid areas for the desert varnish, or warm rock far under the crust. After a spell of hot temperatures, some strange things might come scurrying out of their hiding places, possibly wrecking ecological havoc as they do so.
  • The shadow life might be symbiotic or parasitic upon other forms of life, including humans. A distant relative of desert varnish could be what causes tissue calcification and brain sand, and together some family of invisible bugs might be the culprits behind aging - or maybe that's just what happens when you don't feed them properly. If the shadow biosphere starts to come into the light, perhaps the most important changes, for good or ill, will come from the inside.
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