Erich von Däniken thinks animals have inexplicable powers (chapter 1: 'Things animals are capable of'), that mainstream science cannot be trusted (chapter 2: 'Science! – science?'); that mainstream science suppresses the truth (chapter 3: 'Hushed up and suppressed') and chapter 4: 'Where are the fossils?' is about the biblical flood and has little relevance for evolution.
Inexplicable metamorphosizing insects
"But the genetic process that turns an egg into a caterpillar, then from a caterpillar to a pupa from which a completely new creature emerges is difficult to reconcile or explain in terms of evolutionary theory" (Chapter 1)
Von Däniken uses the Atlas Moth, Attacus atlas (see picture above) as one of many animals in the first chapter 'Things animals are capable of' to disprove evolution. However, everybody can enter 'the genetics of metamorphosis" in a search engine. Results are for example:
(Note: when Von Däniken writes "metamorphosizing" he means 'metamorphosing').
"The development of a fly (or butterfly) from a crawling larva (or caterpillar) that forms a pupa before eclosing as a flying adult is a classic example of metamorphosis that captures the imagination and has been immortalized in children's books. Powerful genetic experiments in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster have revealed how genes can instruct the behaviour of individual cells to control patterns of tissue growth". (From genes to shape during metamorphosis: a history).
There are many more examples of wonderful and strange adaptations in this chapter. Together all these examples form the study object of evolutionary biology. Thousands of scientific articles and hundreds of books have been published (6). Just one more example of his evolutionary puzzles:
"Why, of the ninety species of whale, did only the narwhal develop a tusk?"
He could have done more reseach himself . These adaptations are study objects for professional biologists since the origin of biology as a scientific discipline (10). It is their job. It is their daily work. The more biologists study nature, the more wonderful adaptations they discover. What is his point apart from entertaining the reader? Von Däniken's point seems to be that these phenomena cannot have a natural explanation. But, only once he states explicitly that an animal 'contradicts the evolutionary idea'. But why? What part of the theory of evolution is contradicted? His reaction to 'inexplicable' adaptations of animals can be summarized as: "I don't understand it, so it is inexplicable." (argument from personal incredulity). What's the point of this chapter? He never states explicitly that the animals got their super powers from the aliens. However, one doesn't need to be clairvoyant to perceive the suggestion.
Why did only the narwhal develop a tusk? 
Surprisingly, Erich von Däniken gives a reasonably accurate but very short account of the history of the discovery of DNA. He even mentions Phoebus Levene, but writes that Levene used a 'supermicroscope'. This is wrong, Levene was a biochemist, and did not work with a 'supermicroscope'. Von Däniken correctly describes that Watson & Crick's double helix model was in part based on biochemist Chargaff. Unfortunately, Von Däniken doesn't mention the crucial fact that Chargaff discovered that the amounts of the base A roughly equal the amounts of base T in DNA, and the same holds for C and G. And if you miss that, you can't understand why Watson and Crick included AT and CG pairs in their DNA structure. And that's the crux of genetic information and DNA replication.
On another page he knows the four bases adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine. He also knows that "the order of the four bases" is important and "only certain basic bases fit into the sequence ... Others cannot dock at all". Why describe it in this vague way? The beauty and simplicity of DNA is that there are only 4 bases, and they form two pairs AT and CG. That is easy to remember, isn't it? But he doesn't mention the AT and CG pairs. So, he comes close, but he didn't get the most important feature of DNA.
As is often done by non-biologists, he mistakes the concept 'genetic code' for the genome (the total of DNA in a cell or of a species). This is wrong. The genetic code is a key to unlock the information in DNA. The genetic code is the way the information in DNA is translated into proteins. That is: how 64 base triplets code for 20 amino acids. In principle that can be done in a million ways. As a consequence of this misunderstanding, he never wonders how DNA works and what it does. He is completely unaware of the fact that the genetic code cannot be derived from biochemical laws. It has an arbitrary character. The genetic code of all life on earth is unique to life on earth. It is not a universal law. And this explains why he doesn't see a problem with aliens injecting DNA in humans. This could only have any effect if the alien DNA had the same genetic code (in the scientific sense) as life on earth. The smallest difference in the genetic code could create an obstacle. Significant deviations from the genetic code on earth make 'injecting alien DNA' pointless or at worst pathogenic.
If you omit AT and CG base pairs, you will probably have difficulties understanding mutation. Especially, the most elementary mutation: a point mutation. A point mutation is a substitution of one base with another base. And if you don't understand that clearly, you probably have difficulties understanding random mutation. He knows that "most mutations lead to a negative result that do not help the animal improve any further". But, does he understand why? Further, he writes "Only mutations in the germ line can cause changes in the body...", but that is wrong. It must be: only mutations in the germ line can cause heritable changes, that means your children will inherit those mutations.
"Evolutionary biology has plausible explanations for the origin and behavior of innumerable kinds of species, but definitely not for all."
That is kind of a weird statement.
Von Däniken wants evolutionary explanations for all of them. Otherwise, the theory is wrong?
In principle, one or a few animal species could falsify the theory of evolution. But if you throw away the theory of evolution because of a few unexplained species, then you also throw away the explanation for all the observations the theory has been designed to explain in the first place. The net result is you are left with innumerous unexplained phenomena. That is not what you want. The living world would not make sense anymore. The way science progresses is doing experiments with animals or plants in the lab or in the field. That is not always feasible. There are always questions left for future investigation (if money is available). A recent textbook ends chapters with a 'What We Don't Know' section . A good idea.
"Evolution is adaptation, change, and an endless amount of time that makes anything possible. Even the impossible."
It looks like anything is possible in evolution. But, the impossible is impossible. Pigs can't fly.
(Mammals of the sea, chapter 1)
The quote is a very simplistic description of what evolution is. A caricature. According to Wikipedia, evolution is the change in heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. It results in adaptation or extinction.
His description of Darwin is short but factual. Importantly, it is without any Darwin bashing. He includes a portrait of Darwin and an illustration of Darwin's finches in the book. Apparenty, he has no problem with Darwin. Many anti-Darwinists find Darwin a repulsive and offensive person and attack the person. There are some inconsequential historical inaccuracies (chapter 2).
"Natural Selection" is a crucial component of Darwin's theory of evolution. It only occurs once in the book. And that is in a quote from the ID-movement: "... expresses skepticism about the claims of random mutation and natural selections." . I found one occurrence of "Darwin's selection (choice)". That's all. As often happens in the popular literature, he uses 'survival of the fittest' in stead of 'natural selection'. There is no coherent description of natural selection. If you want to attack the theory of evolution, start with a correct description of your victim!
Common Descent of all life is an essential component of the theory of evolution. Yet, the concept 'common descent' does not occur in the book (it's easy to check in the e-book). In the middle of a discussion of dangerous spiders he uses 'Common ancestor': "Everything has a common ancestor but develops differently in different regions." This is too vague. Not quite true. He misses the important point that all species have a common ancestor when going back in time (Tree of life). Not only spiders. Again, there is no correct description of the essentials of the theory of evolution.
When discussing the German biologist and Darwinist Ernst Haeckel, Von Däniken introduces 'common origin': "According to Haeckel, the beginnings of all life can be traced back to a common origin." Correct! But, descent with modification has always been part of Darwin's theory of evolution.
The concepts 'Common descent' and the 'genetic code' (see above) are related. The genetic code is the same for all life. This is a surprising fact because it is not necessarily so. In principle, the genetic code could be different for every species (except viruses). Therefore, the universal genetic code is powerful evidence for common descent of all life. Von Däniken did not make it clear in his book that he understands this.
Von Däniken misunderstands chimp-human comparison
Von Däniken believes that "the protein structure of the apes is incompatible with ours." Here is an example of how Von Däniken misreads a scientific publication:
"The international team of scholars also states that "the amino acid sequence of the 231 proteins discovered in humans and apes differs by 83 percent."
He writes the sentence with double quotes, but it is not an exact quote at all. What his souce  actually says is quite different:
"These differences are sufficient to generate changes in most of the proteins. Indeed, 83% of the 231 coding sequences, including functionally important genes, show differences at the amino acid sequence level."
So, according to the publication he "quoted", 83% of 231 genes, that is 192 genes, show (unspecified) differences in proteins. These differences could be large or small. But not 83%. The particular quote does not say anything about protein differences, but about how many proteins do have differences. That is not the same. Von Däniken turns the Nature quote into the opposite! A huge mistake. Think about it: the 83% difference means only 17% similarity between human and chimp proteins. That is highly unlikely. The chimpanzee is our closest living relative on earth. All other animals differ more. Let me illustrate the difference: a 17% similarity with the name 'erich von daniken' would result in only 3 identical letters:
(International Chimpanzee Chromosome 22 Consortium: DNA Sequence and Comparative Analysis of Chimpanzee Chromosome 22, Nature 27 May 2004.) [note 2]
The second word consists of the same letters but only 3 positions have identical letters. The second word differs beyond recognition! Similarity is hard to spot here.
A wellknown Evolution textbook writes about humans and chimps:
"Combined analysis of several molecular data sets strongly support the hypothesis
And here are the total amino acid differences in percentages:
that humans and chimps are closest relatives."
p.759-762 Freeman, Herron (2007) Evolutionary Analysis.
|The amino acid divergence human-chimp:
In the same Nature issue a news & views article states:
"By lining up chimp chromosome 22 and human chromosome 21 and comparing them nucleotide by nucleotide, the consortium found instances in which one nucleotide was substituted for another in only about 1.44% of the sequence.".
So, according to this article, human and chimp differ in 1,44% of the nucleotides in their corresponding chromosomes 22/21. That means that they are 98% identical. Von Däniken made a serious mistake. He shows uncritical reading [note 2].
(Differences with the relatives, Nature, 27 May 2004).
He uses quote-mining to proof his claim. For example, he tries to confirm his claims by quoting Allan D. Wilson and Mary-Claire King in an 47 year old (!) article in the German magazine Der Spiegel. But he omits that Mary-Claire King said the opposite of what he is trying to prove [note 4].
Conclusion: there is no evidence for Von Däniken's claim that proteins differ 83%. (See for further reading the Scientific background box below.)
"Are we just the product of evolution?" (chapter 2)
Von Däniken accepts and defends Intelligent Designer Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box. However, he uses the concept 'Intelligent Design' in a quite different way than the ID movement itself: "a spirit of the universe or aliens (?)" and "extraterrestrials". Also in chapter 4 Von Däniken uses the ID concept in the meaning of 'extraterrestrial' (ET). For Von Däniken it is all the same. He doesn't care that for Michael Behe ID means design by the God of the bible. He doesn't explictly reject that meaning.
He is clearly inspired by Michael Behe's Irreducible Complexity argument against gradual evolution. Several examples show this:
but all are without references. He uses and quotes from Reinhard Junker, Siegfried Scherer (1998) Evolution, Ein Kritisches Lehrbuch. The book has been criticized thoroughly by evolutionary biologist Gerdien de Jong on this blog . Von Däniken says about the book: "excellent work"! However it is not an evolution textbook. German evolutionary biologist Ulrich Kutschera noted that "This colorful monograph is sponsored/distributed by the publisher Ulrich Weyel, a member of the German Evangelical Alliance. Then he takes one step further. He doesn't hesitate to endorse Hans-Joachim Zillmer Die Evolutions-Lüge. If you start accusing your opponents of lies, then you stop thinking scientifically.
- "But half-lungs, quarter-wings, an unfinshed penis ... do not work."
- "What genetic changes were necessary to develop this weapon in stages?"
- "How did such a weapon develop slowly in the beetle's body"?
- "How could the different components of this catapult develop slowly and gradually?"
- "If one single link in this chain is missing, the tapeworm can't develop."
Straw man fallacy
Straw man arguments attack a caricature of the views of the opponent:
He uses his own imagination in stead of quoting evolution textbooks or scientific publications. Sorry, this is not the way evolutionary biologists think. It is a caricature. Von Däniken is fighting against a straw man. Natural selection is not all-powerful. And evolutionary biologists are not all-knowing.
- "evolution theorists explain everything using time."
- "Nature gave it a long beak because it had to look for food in the water."
- "It is constantly assumed that omniscient "nature wanted this or that because a lifeform needed it."
- "Modern evolutionary theory is teeming with nonsensical reasons, ..."
In addition to being straw man fallacies, these three statements are also rhetorical questions. Von Däniken knows the answer: 'evolution' is unable to do or to know that. Only intelligent beings (aliens or gods!) can do or know those things. At the same time he implicitly accuses evolutionary biologists of anthropomorphising evolution. Evolutionary biologists are supposed to attribute human or superhuman powers to evolution. This is also an appeal to ridicule: an informal fallacy which presents an opponent's argument as absurd, ridiculous, and therefore not worthy of serious consideration. .
- "How should it know ..." [about evolution]
- "How should "evolution" know which tool to take from the "box"? ['genetic toolbox']
- "But how should blissful evolution know in advance what will turn out to be ..."
- How exactly do they inherit this navigation system?
The ultimate non-argument is the simple statement "Strange." (about reproductive behaviour of the bat). 'Strange' is not an argument against evolution!
"Aliens have copulated with humans for decades."
"And indeed: the few survivors after the flood carried a modified DNA."
"new genetic information is repeatedly fed into the human system"
These are vague and unfalsifiable claims. No evidence is produced. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Sagan standard). Where are those people with 'modified' DNA? Unfortunately, only humans can successfully copulate with humans. Assuming the aliens were males, then if ever a female of the human species got pregnant from an alien (raped by an alien?) and gave birth to a hybrid baby, that is scientific proof that the anonymous sperm donor had a human genome. This is because of genetic and chromosomal incompatibility issues (species barrier):
The father must have a normal human 46XY genome and all 46 chromosomes must match exactly. If alien chromosomes do not match with those of the women she is unable to get pregnant. No viable embryo can develop. Additionally, von Däniken doesn't know that the human DNA is distributed arbitrarily across 23 chromosomes. That our chromosomes have different sizes is an historical accident. This can only be explained by descent with modification on planet earth. Since the human karyotype is not a universal natural law, chromosomes of all animals on other planets would look very different from ours. And thus there is a reproductive barrier.
Figure: Normal human chromosome karyotype 46XY (male)
Females have 46XX. ©Springer
He is not explicit about it, but likely his claim that "the amino acid sequence of the 231 proteins discovered in humans and apes differs by 83 percent" is his evidence that "new genetic information is repeatedly fed into the human system" (alien DNA). Unfortunately, the 83% is a misunderstanding (see above). So, he has not produced evidence for alien DNA in our chromosomes. Evolutionary research however has explanations (8). Furthermore, he assumes that alien 'genetic information' is fed into the human genome, and concludes that that's the reason evolutionists cannot explain the origin of humans from apes (9). That is the 'Begging the question' fallacy: assuming what you have to prove.
The story of 'alien DNA' is a good illustration of Von Däniken's uncritical attitude to his own theory and at the same time a highly critical attitude to the theory of evolution. But this criticial attitude is not based on knowledge of biology.
"We are more than just "Earth animals", more than just the coincidental descendants from a species of ape.
Here are certainly deep emotional and a semi-religious sentiments involved. No facts can change that I am afraid.
"The "impossible" mutations that led to "Homo technicus" were no coincidence; (...) Everything was done in a targeted manner, and our brilliant geneticists could easily prove this–if they were allowed to publish the results of their research." (Chapter 3)
This is a very weak claim: there is evidence but it could not be published? Include the results of their research in your book and we can study it. Now there is nothing to evaluate. If genetic research is not done, then invest in it! Crowdfunding! But don't complain.
"He demonstrated convincingly that Darwin's theory is no longer tenable"
(about Chandra Wickramasinghe) (Chapter 2)
"Evolution can only be explained if the genetic material for the origin of life came from ouside our system."
Typically, Von Däniken produces isolated statements, and leaves it at that. No arguments. No evidence. The word 'panspermia' is absent from the book! So, there is no discussion of the merits and shortcomings of the panspermia theory. What is the origin of panspermia DNA? Did it originate and evolve on another planet? Or did it arrive from still another planet? And how did it originate on that planet? Infinite regress! To escape the infinite regress the first DNA must originate without outside help. Furthermore, if DNA came from space in the form of viruses or bacteria, then multicellular plants and animals must evolve by mutation and natural selection. Von Däniken doesn't think about these questions. Probably he is not interested in panspermia because his aliens are highly developed intelligent beings in spacecrafts, not bacteria or viruses.
quote from Fred Hoyle (Chapter 2)
What are his sources?
"Now over a hundred books have convincingly arguments against Darwin's teaching."
So, what? There are hundreds of evolution books with convincing arguments supporting evolution. But, there is no evolution textbook mentioned in 'Evolution is Wrong' (Junker und Scherer is not a textbook, see above). So, he 'knows' evolution is wrong, but did not consult any of the many professional or popular evolution textbooks. There are hundreds of them! .
His sources are sometimes scientists, but nearly always they are non-mainstream scientists or non-biologists. Despite that, he accepts them as authorities. For example, Fred Hoyle is an astronomer, Thomas Nagel is a philospher, Luis E. Navia (specializes in ancient Greek philosophy), so are not biologists. Michale Behe (biochemist) and Junker, Scherer (biologists) are non-mainstream scientists promoting ID.
I mentioned above Die Evolutions-Lüge. Another example of his one-sided reading habits is the fact that he read Dawkins Der Gotteswahn (The God Delusion) in stead of the famous The Selfish Gene. He would have learned a lot about evolution if he had read that famous book. It is available in German: Das egoistische Gen.
Recommended reading for Von Däniken (in Deutsch!):
An excellent and popular-science book in the English language:
- Futuyma (2014) Evolutionsbiologie. Paperback 49,99 euro. hardcover 19,80 euro.
- Ulrich Kutschera (2015) Evolutionsbiologie: Ursprung und Stammesentwicklung der Organismen. Hardcover (34,99 euro)
including chapter about creationism, Intelligent Design, Christiany, atheism.
- Volker Storch, Ulrich Welsch, Michael Wink (2013) Evolutionsbiologie. Hardcover. (64,99 euro)
This is a very complete overview of all the evidence, but it is not a textbook in the sense that for example the structure of DNA, Mendelian and molecular genetics are explained. If only Von Däniken had read this book, he would have known the arguments and facts in favour of evolution. I think he is able to understand everything in the book provided he takes the trouble to study it carefully.
- Jerry A. Coyne (2009) "Why Evolution Is True".
Apart from some surprising knowledge of biological concepts , Erich Von Däniken makes the following errors: argument from personal incredulity ('Inexplicable metamorphosizing insects'): arguing that, because something is so incredible or amazing, it must be the result of superior, divine, alien or paranormal agency; 'Gods of the gaps'-fallacy; slopppy thinking (illogical thinking), jumping to conclusions, drawing unwarranted conclusions, making extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, irrelevant data, lack of relevant data, whishful thinking, begging the question, cherry picking (anti-evolution literature, ignoring mainstream literature) and quote mining, misunderstanding scientific literature (83%!), relying on unreliable sources, incomplete knowledge of the fundamentals of evolution and biology, distrust of mainstream science, having a grudge against science (because science doesn't take him serious), vaguesness of claims, unfalsifiable claims, straw man fallacy, rhetorical questions and appeal to ridicule.
Von Däniken should have verified his 83% claim by reading other publications. For example: Galina Glazko et al (2005) Eighty percent of proteins are different between humans and chimpanzees. Again: Eighty percent of proteins. But the proteins could differ in minor ways: by 1 or 2 amino acids. Eukaryotic proteins have an average size of 472 amino acids.
Another publication in 2005:
"Humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor approximately 5-7 million years ago (Mya).
The difference between the two genomes is actually not approximately 1%, but approximately 4%–comprising approximately 35 million single nucleotide differences and approximately 90 Mb of insertions and deletions." (Ajit Varki, Tasha K Altheide (2005) Comparing the human and chimpanzee genomes: searching for needles in a haystack)
An easy source is the Wikipedia article Human genome:
"The published chimpanzee genome differs from that of the human genome by 1.23% in direct sequence comparisons.
Since the publication of the first chimpanzee genome in 2004, new and more interesting publications appeared. Von Däniken's book was published in 2022, so he could have consulted the more recent publications. Those publications try to answer the question what particular genetic differences caused the obvious anatomical and intellectual differences between humans and chimpanzees. That is far more interesting than average differences. Those differences could be meaningless random noise. So, the interesting question is: Which proteins contribute to human-chimpanzee differences? (Justin Fay, European Journal of Human Genetics), 2006.
On average, a typical human protein-coding gene differs from its chimpanzee ortholog by only two amino acid substitutions; nearly one third of human genes have exactly the same protein translation as their chimpanzee orthologs."
- Full quote: "The petition, entitled "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism," expresses skepticism about the claims of random mutation and natural selections." (He makes a typo "selectons".) This the wellknown claim of the Intelligent Design movement.
- Maybe he has difficulties in understanding scientific publications in English. Probably he did not see the original Nature article at all. In fact he doesn't quote the Nature article, but a press release of Max Planck researcher Dr. Marie-Laure Yaspo.
- Laura Nelson (2004) Chimp chromosome creates puzzles, Nature 27 May 2004.
- He quotes an article from Der Spiegel (a German weekly news magazine) 'Biologie: Dutch Gen-Rutsch zum nackten Affen', 1975. That is a 47 year old publication!!! Stil available, so it can be chekced. The article in Der Spiegel refers to a publication of Mary-Claire King and A. C. Wilson "Evolution at two levels in humans and chimpanzees in Sience 11 April 1975. Subtitled: Their macromolecules are so alike that regulatory mutations may account for their biological differences". The article is still available. The study was one of the first attempts to investigate the genetic distance between humans and chimpanzees, 25 years before the the publication of the famous draft human genome sequence in 2001. They conclude:
That is not what Von Däniken writes. He could have consulted wikipedia pages before he wrote the book.
- "the average human polypeptide is more than 99 percent identical to its chimpanzee counterpart. (...) A reletively small number of genetic changes in systems controlling the expression of genes may account for the major organismal differences between humans and chimpanzees." So, by 'Evolution at two levels' the authors mean evolution at the level of genes and proteins and the 'higher' level of DNA segments that controle the expression of genes (gene regulation). The knowledge of gene expression has dramatically improved since 1975!
- Futuyma, Kirkpatrick, Evolution, 5th ed. 2023. See short review on my blog.
- This is a nice popular article: More about metamorphosis: Researchers study gene that aids maturation, May 4, 2006.
- For narwhals, the 'unicorn of the seas,' size matters for sexual selection, Arizona State University press release. This story is also a good example, that research costs a lot of effort: the research team collected morphology data on 245 adult male narwhals over the course of 35 years! And: narwhals spend most of their lives hidden under the Arctic ice! The original article: The longer the better: evidence that narwhal tusks are sexually selected,
- Elizabeth Pennisi (2023) Human gene linked to bigger brains was born from seemingly useless DNA gives part of the explanation why humans have bigger brains than chimps.
- Quote: "Because of this, geneticists can no longer explain the mutations in the chemical building blocks in our DNA in a natural way, because they did not develop by themselves à la Darwin. This is what we call Intelligent Design in our time" (Chapter 4). It looks like Von Däniken uses here the 'God of the gaps' reasoning. And which mutations cannot be explained?
- Von Däniken's examples in the first chapter could be extended with many more amazing animal and plant adaptations. Good example is: 'The Gecko's Foot'. Video explains: "Scientist cannot imitate the Gecko's foot because of its sophisticated branching structure. We cannot make what the Gecko has." Does that mean that the gecko's DNA was manipulated by aliens? My God, NO! The Gecko is not in Von Däniken's book.
See for more books the engineering section on the Introduction page of this website.
- macroevolution, microevolution, Evo-Devo, genetic toolbox, CRISPR, genetic knockout, synthetic theory of evolution, and some fragments of the history of science.
- The section Rhetorical questions has been added 26 Feb 2023.
Literatuurlijst Skepter artikel
In the summer edition of Skepter an article (Dutch) by myself will appear about the possibility of aliens having sex with humans.
The magazine is published by the Dutch Skeptics society.
- Humans: Human Genome and Human chromosomes.
- Chromosome numbers: List of organisms by chromosome count shows huge variation in chromosome number of organisms on planet earth.
- Genetic Code: Genetic Code (universal genetic code) including Alternative genetic codes. Vertebrate mitochondrial code (including humans) has 4 different codes compared to the Universal Genetic Code.
- Sex chromosomes: Y-chromsome. The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome, Quanta magazine 2015.
- wikipedia: Robertsonian translocation with a human with 2n=44.
- An unusually knowledgeable wikipedia page about hybidization between humans and non-humans.
- Stephen Freeland (2008) Fitness of the cosmos for life, chapter 14, page 301 about the Universal Genetic Code.
- Bill Chalker (2005) Hair of the Alien: DNA and Other Forensic Evidence of Alien Abductions, Gallery Books. One of the rare instances that a DNA analysis is done on a hair of an 'alien'.
- Wallace Arthur (2023) 'Understanding Life in the Universe', Cambridge University Press; New edition. Paperback 150 pages. This is a short and useful introduction to astrobiology by an evolutionary biologist who wrote several other books on evolution and astrobiology. See also my introduction to Astrobiology page on this website.
- Immune system: pathogenes have significantly altered the human genome. This topic has not been included in the Skepter article. The idea is that past pandemics have shaped the human genome and those pathogens and genomic changes are unique for life on earth. Alien beings will not have experienced the same pathogens and consequently those pathogens will be lethal to aliens.
- Fertility problems are expected to be a reproductive barrier between humans and aliens. Infertility in the humans species has become a major issue for human reproductive health and affects up to one in seven couples worldwide. That is 14% of couples experience fertility problems. Estimates from 1997 suggest that worldwide about five percent of all heterosexual couples have an unresolved problem with infertility (wikipedia). And that is within the human species. See: Understanding the genetics of human infertility, Science, 13 Apr 2023.