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Re: why 'Martians' should be bipeds (some WoW spoiler)

In human ancestors, standing upright freed our hands to do other things, specifically to carry things, like bananas and prey. Before long we were fashioning stone into tools and weapons; vines and sinew into string and rope; skins and leaves into garments and adornments. This led to trade, greed, invention, the moon landing and MTV. So quadrupedal aliens in hi-tech ware doesn't cut it for me.

You're merely arguing that _some_ sort of grasping organ is needed. I just say "elephant trunk". Or "spider monkey tail". And those are just the mammals. Nothing requires that such a grasping organ have evolved from a walking organ, and I don't think the number is too constrained either.

They were unprotected and apparently naive about life's littlest denizens. Even in the late 60s we were cautious enough to quarantine our astronauts [...]

Which was of course rather silly. It's not like any virus could just infect any cell. It needs to have the right surface proteins so the virus can attach in the first place, and that's just the start. Now remember that our 20 (OK, 22) amino acids are a _highly_ arbitrary selection of all amino acids that _could_ in principle occur in functional proteins... besides, who needs amino acids, perhaps glycolipids or whatever can do the tricks just as well... While we are at it, viruses need to replicate inside cells. This requires DNA and RNA. There doesn't appear to be a special reason why we have just these four bases and not any others. Pyridine bases could bind metal ions and conduct all sorts of interesting enzyme activities without proteins...

PS. Do you think they'll ever do an invasion movie where the aliens want our gold, want to force us to their religion and we give them syphyllis?

Syphilis? How many _mammal_ species can get syphilis?

"First let me say that I'm a big fan of carbon-based life. Some of my best friends are carbon-based."
-- David Harry Grinspoon