I can remember one short story where the explorer finds life - I think on the Venus surface, so an early story before we knew how hostile the surface is. and he leaves a poop bag there, not realizing that it would make the lifeform extinct, a unique lifeform, only known life on Venus. The lifeform penetrates it and eats the rich material, and that kills it. I don't think it is intelligent, just multicellular. But it is destroyed because it is the only remaining example of its species on the planet, and not destroyed by the microbes. As the explorer leaves the planet, he doesn't know that he has made this lifeform he just discovered extinct.

Does anyone know this story? (Answered, thanks!)

  • Requests for lists of recommended titles are off-topic I'm afraid. You have enough rep to visit the chatroom. Perhaps you might ask in there instead... – Valorum Jan 23 '17 at 15:57
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    If you edit your question down to the second paragraph, asking for the identification of a specific story, then it will be on topic here. By the way, the answer is "Before Eden" by Arthur C. Clarke, see this Q & A. – user14111 Jan 23 '17 at 16:00
  • Oh okay, thanks, I didn't know that. Well I got my answer to the second paragraph. I'll edit it down to that, so that it can be on topic here. – Robert Walker Jan 23 '17 at 16:12
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    Oh brilliant, just checked the synopsis for the story, it's much better than I remembered, "Likewise it absorbed a whole microcosm of living creatures—the bacteria and viruses which, on an older planet, had evolved into a thousand deadly strains. Though only a very few could survive in this heat and this atmosphere, they were sufficient. As the carpet crawled back to the lake, it carried contagion to all its world." That's just exactly what I was looking for for my book :) – Robert Walker Jan 23 '17 at 16:17
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    I've added it here, as you can see, it's just perfect :). robertinventor.com/booklets/… – Robert Walker Jan 23 '17 at 17:56