Writing this a new post took a bit more time than usual, for which there are two reasons. The first is that quite often I simply run out of time. In fact, I have found that putting up a post almost every week (I did 50 in 2009) is about enough to stop me working on new content for the Furaha site. For that reason alone I may decide to slow down a bit.
The second reason is that I had lots of problems in trying to upload videos. The main reason was that I tried to do it with software I was unfamiliar with (Adobe Premiere Elements). I could make great titles with it, but the resulting file was about 850 Mb, whereas comparable earlier ones were less than 20 Mb. In the end I went back to the previous painful process involving three different programs and convoluted steps. There are too many video formats, and if you are not an expert life is hard.
Anyway, in the end I managed to upload a file. Today's post is once more about the BBC documentary 'Natural history of an alien', also known as 'Anatomy of an alien'. I rather prefer the first title. After that there will be only one fragment left to post on this blog, but this does not mean that the entire program will then have been posted here. Some parts deal with life on early Earth or on general biology, and I thought these would not be of major importance to the readership of this blog.
Both remaining sections feature the work of Dougal Dixon, someone who probably needs no introduction in the world of speculative biology. For those who do not know his work, he wrote several landmark books in the field, of which I like "After Man, a zoology of the future", and "The New Dinosaurs the best". In those years he and I communicated a few times by regular mail (yes, it was that long ago).
The present post is about the world 'Sulfuria', equiped with a very dense atmosphere. As discussed before, heavy atmospheres lend themselves well to flight, both of the 'heavier'and of the 'lighter-than-air' varieties. One of Sulfuria's major lifeforms is a 'ballont'; for previous discussions, see here, here and here. It is not a free floating one though, but a stalked one. The story is that these beings stick out above the clouds, where they are in the sun. Presumably sunlight is beneficial to them in the sense that it drives their biochemistry, but like many details in this programme the rationale for this is not spelled out.
The ballonts are rather nice, I think, but then again I have always been partials to ballonts. One small problem is that it is very difficult to get a sense of scale, if there is nothing in the image to compare the ballonts with. It would have been nice to learn a bit more about this biotope: there may be more flying forms, and some might be involved in the life cycle or ecology of he giant ballonts. I guess we will have to make these up ourselves.
The last fragment in this series will be posted in the near future, and will also deal with Dixon's work. In it, he discusses another invented world, called "Greenworld". I think I still have photocopies of sketches of Greenworld creatures he sent me years ago. Unfortunately, the work did not then see the light as a book, but I read recently that Greenworld is in fact about to be published, in Japanese. I will keep my eyes open for that one; not that I read Japanese, but I hope there will be pictures...