In writing my books, I must often spend time imagining alien creatures (whether sentient or not) to put on other planets. Because I am a biologist, it is also important to me that they be anatomically and physiologically plausible. And this is not as easy a thing to do as might appear, given the litany of “monsters” and aliens that have already been imagined in movies and books. But then, I watch a nature documentary–or my son tells me of some animal he saw in a documentary–and I realize that our very Earth is filled with creatures more alien than anything we have imagined, and I stare in wonder and draw inspiration from, these creatures which live right here and await our discovery (if we don’t kill them all off first, through our actions and inaction–but this is another topic). And thier existence and suprising anatomies, behaviors and physiologies tell me that there is little that is impossible for nature. See below some of the incredible animals I have come across recently:

Vampire squid: a squid with colors and form so strange..

Barreleye fish: a deep sea fish with a completely transparent skull through which we can see its brain, along with a light-emitting structure in the center of the skull.

Squidworm: a beautiful worm, with iridescent, swimming appendages.

Stargazer fish: a predatory fish living in the shallows along our shores as well as in deep waters.

Venezuelan poodle moth: an insect sporting such a strange combination of features and posture that it is as frightening as it is fascinating.

With all of the strange creatures living right here in our waters or forests or caves–of which the above are only a small fraction–we truly don’t need to strain our brains to imagine the aliens or monsters of our stories (click here to check my book, and here to see two creatures of my book, though they are not the most unique appearance). And living beings are not the only things on our Earth which can amaze; the landscapes explored on shows like National Geographic and Planet Earth are just as stunning and startling.


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