Here is a panoramic view of Edmunds (in Interstellar), or at least where Edmunds (the man) landed. Dr. Amelia Brand is in the foreground, at his grave. There is no sign of life besides Dr. Brand herself.

Edmunds Landscape

And here is an image demonstrating that Dr. Brand is able to breathe the atmosphere of Edmunds. (This is later in the same afternoon.)

Dr.Brand without helmet

If Edmunds was barren, why did it have a breathable (most specifically including free oxygen) atmosphere? If Edmunds had existing life, why didn't Edmunds (the man) land in a fertile area?

  • Insterstellar isn't exactly Star Wars. Aside from extremes, like the water world, chances for a habitable planet to be a single biome-type are very, very low.
    – Petersaber
    Feb 21 '17 at 11:37
  • @Petersaber So if you were landing on Earth (or any planet with as much variety), why would you set down in the middle of a desert as opposed to near a fertile seashore, or a on a wide 'grassy' plain beside a river, or.. Note that I'm presuming any environment suitable for humans would have liquid water, so 'presence of surface water' would be an easily detectable and fundamental criterion for selection of landing site. Feb 21 '17 at 13:43
  • We can't be sure she had a choice. Didn't she pretty much crash, and wasn't Edmunds' stuff buried in a landslide?
    – Petersaber
    Feb 21 '17 at 16:55

It certainly looks barren at that particular spot on Edmunds' world. However, we might not recognize alien life, for example visually unapparent aerobic soil bacteria might be maintaining the atmosphere.

Of course, were one to land in parts of the Sahara, Antarctic or Gobi deserts, and note the barren absence of life, while assuming that the rest of the planet must look the same, one would be gravely in error. We do not know (from the film) what the ecosystem of Edmunds' planet looks like, we do know what a tiny region looks like.

  • 1
    I hadn't thought of the stage of 'single celled organisms'.. Which is pretty thoughtless, given the Earth was like that for around 1.7 billion years between the development of life 3.8 billion years ago, and the first multicellular organisms evolving around 2.1 billion years ago! Thanks. I'll wait for a while to see if other (even more compelling) reasons emerge, but otherwise this will get the tick. Sep 6 '15 at 2:12
  • @Lexible : Great answer, +1.
    – Praxis
    Sep 6 '15 at 4:05

The oldest fossils of land fungi and plants date to 480–460 Ma [million years ago]...

says the Wikipedia regarding the development of life on Earth.

On the other hand, photosynthesis "had certainly appeared by about 2.4 Ga". By now, for around 1/5 of time the Earth atmosphere was breathable, there was some visible life on land. The other 4/5, well maybe some single-cell organisms.

So, maybe there's plenty of interesting life in the oceans on Edmunds.

And that's not taking into account the "we landed in Sahara" scenario.

  • This appears to be an attempt to comment on Lexible's answer.
    – Valorum
    Oct 19 '15 at 13:36
  • 1
    Richard, sorry, but no. Lexible's point is that either Edmunds (and then Brand) landed in a Sahara-like environment, or the life there can be "unrecognizable." My point is that there might be no (visible) life on land, and at the same time there might be macro- and even megafauna in oceans. Thanks for your edit, though.
    – Helgi
    Oct 19 '15 at 15:03

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