21

The only living thing that seems to be native to another planet are the worms of Dune. I remember something called a "slig" but that seems to be a new species created by genetic engineering, and that man-wolf to which an honored matre tries to feed a Bene gisseret seems the same.

It is said that the Great Houses could only use their atomic weapons in the case that alien invaders were to attack humanity. And the implication is that this hasn't happened so far.

I remember something about a house making a fortune selling whale fur, it doesn't say if these whales had been transplanted from earth and somehow modified to have this fur.

Is there any information about alien life; intelligent, animal-like or plant-like? Does it come out and just say "the only planet beside earth that has native life is Dune and then only worms"?

  • 2
    Do not forget, the Desert Mouse Muad'Dib, a visage of which can be seen in the full Moon Of Arrakis on a clear desert night. – PhasedOut Nov 22 '16 at 17:02
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    @PhasedOut - the muad'dib was imported from Earth. They refer to it hopping and scurrying, so most likely a kangaroo rat or spinifex hopper – Omegacron Jan 25 '18 at 21:05
18

In Dunes exanded universe we have

  1. humans originated on earth

  2. they never encounter other intelligent life

  3. humans do find plant and animal life on other worlds

  4. the only other intelligent lifeforms in this universe are the thinking machines created by humans before the Butlerian Jihad.

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    So the sandworms are not considered intelligent? How speciesist! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 '15 at 15:23
  • @JanusBahsJacquet i mean they kinda just home in on vibrations and bash/destroy any and everything. lol not the pinnacle of intelligence that. – Himarm Sep 15 '15 at 15:34
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    Sounds like a not entirely inaccurate description of the human race. ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 15 '15 at 15:36
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    @JanusBahsJacquet yes, but we outsmarted the sandworms, therefor we win. :D – Himarm Sep 15 '15 at 15:51
  • @JanusBahsJacquet not intelligent, just highly evolved instincts. – jwenting Sep 16 '15 at 5:50
20

In Dune, there are references to both native and terraform plants:

On Arrakis, for example,

There was a rare native root plant that grew above the 2,500 meter level in the northern temperate zone. A tuber two meters long yielded half a liter of water. And there were the terraform desert plants: the tougher ones showed signs of thriving if planted in depressions lined with dew precipitators.

--From Appendix I: "The Ecology of Dune"

In the Terminology of the Imperium appendix, there is this entry:

SCHLAG: animal native to Tupile once hunted almost to extinction for its thin, tough hide.

as well as references to a few 'native' plants from various planets.

  • Good answer, but I think you need to include the reference for your first quote. +1 if from a book by FRANK Herbert (I think it is). -1 if from the "Expanded" Universe. – Stone True Nov 22 '16 at 18:17
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    @StoneTrue Answer updated. The quotes are from the first book. – ImaginaryEvents Nov 22 '16 at 20:54
11

Children of Dune makes it explicitly clear that the sandworms are not native to Arrakis.

As for other life, the great likelihood is that almost all animal life is originally from Terra and then adapted, either through genetic artifice or more naturally over time, to the various worlds humans settled. Some species may be completely artificial, designed and cultivated in some lab here or there over the course of human expansion through space (I believe this is the provenance of the sandworm). The reason why this is probably true is two-fold:

  1. The incredible unlikelihood of animal species of a totally alien biochemistry evolving not only forms recognizable to human settlers but also of a composition that is useful to those same pioneers.
    1. The further unlikely situation that animal life would arise independently on multiple planets but not develop into intelligent forms either during the period of human exploration or at some time in the distant past and leave evidence of their existence.

Now, there are definite plant and bacterial-type species native to other planets which is making an interesting but implicit argument: abiogenesis is not unique to Earth, but the Great Filter lies at the line separating sessile, autotrophic, 'plant-like' life from mobile, voracious life. It would seem that in the Duniverse animal life either arose only once - on Earth - or it is extremely rare.

Finally, a very intriguing possibility is raised by the native flora of the planet Ecaz when asking if there's any intelligent alien life in Dune. Ecaz is home to fogwood, which can be molded by making skin-to-skin contact with the plant and simply thinking it into shape. Elacca comes from Ecaz, and this wood is the source of the drug which renders the user's consciousness totally sublimed to it, where physical self-preservation ceases to carry any weight. Elacca is also the source of semuta which also produces this 'consciousness-dispersing' effect. Ecaz is further the home planet of the sapho berry, which when processed into juice is drunk by mentats to increase their calculative abilities and sharpen their focus. Finally Ecaz is the source of Verite, the drug used by the BG and others as a truth serum.

What I mean by all that above is that life from Ecaz, always flora, interacts in powerful, meaningful ways with human mental faculties and processes. This may suggest that although animal life is uniquely Terran in the Dune series, consciousness and perhaps even intelligence has evolved at least one other time, in the various interconnected floral species of Ecaz.

In Dune's Terminology of the Imperium Frank Herbert tells us the sandtrout themselves are half-plant, half-animal, which might suggest an Ecazi origin as decomposers (sealing off the moisture and absorbing the nutrients of dead plant matter) before being unwittingly or short-sightedly carried to the planet of Arrakis when it was still a wet world. The Fremen keep predator fish in their caches so the sandtrout don't wall away all the water. That this works tells us the sandtrout not only didn't evolve on Arrakis, as they've no defense against the predator, but also that they seem to have evolved on a world with ample moisture but no animal predators. That could most certainly be Ecaz, especially when we consider what may have kept them from desiccating it was the conscious effort of the plant species that had evolved alongside them.

  • No I think children of dune showed that worms could be transplanted. It never disputes that Worms are endemic to arrakis. – Escoce Dec 7 '15 at 19:41
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    @Escoce Children of Dune, p. 20 "The sandtrout," he repeated, "was introduced here from some other place. This was a wet planet then. They proliferated beyond the capability of existing ecosystems to deal with them. Sandtrout encysted the available free water, made this a desert planet . . . and they did it to survive. In a planet sufficiently dry, they could move to their sandworm phase." * COD not only informs us the sandtrout *could be transported, it makes it clear they definitely were transported from elsewhere to Arrakis. – Travis Smith of Bexar Dec 7 '15 at 19:49
  • Sand worms have not existed on any other planet. They are still endemic to arrakis. The conditions of arrakis made the worms what they are. – Escoce Dec 7 '15 at 19:52
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    @Escoce You and I actually agree on this point, though not for the reason that I think you think we would. The above quote I've just listed is Leto speaking to Ghanima, after he's searched through Other Memory and relating an objective fact that sandtrout were not native to Arrakis. However, once the sandtrout had closed off enough of the planet's water making the surface arid and open enough to allow their growth into sandworms. This is why I agree that sandworms didn't exist anywhere else, but sandtrout are, again according to Leto, definitely not native to Arrakis. – Travis Smith of Bexar Dec 7 '15 at 19:57

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