The star system of Matar (Eta Pegasi)
is more widely known for its 17 sentient species, all stemming from one giant planet in the system named Malkessior.
Malkessior is classified as a SuperEarth, and in the past scientists have tried to explain the existence of multiple sapient cultures there, through the isolation of the continents and islands, as well as the planet's size. But these theories were never looked upon anymore serious than as a quasi-scientific explanation.
Their structure, ways of reproduction, and to some extent, the appearance, remind of the Earthly fungi life. It wouldn't be really far fetched since a lot of the life forms on their planet do look, and behave, in most ways, like fungi too. The rest of the life there is plant-like and aquatic. The 'Ba-Kouké'
species in particular, exhibit plant-like characteristics as well, so they are categorized by humans as a fungi/planimal* class of extraterrestrial life.
Life on this planet is predominantly a mix of nitrogen/phosphorus-based
biochemistry, with a dash of carbon. 5 of the 17 sentient cultures are space-faring races. Their modes of transportation on planetary base are large gas-bag creatures present in almost every location on their planet, and they have an enormous kilometer long semi-sentient beings filled with gas as well, but with an outer shell harder than a diamond, protecting them from the hostile environment of space, that are used for space travel.
They all come from closely related species, but with time have changed their physiology drastically. One major factor is the change in environment, and another the competition for life, and the "vicious circle" between predators and prey. The planet used to be an icy rock, just to later melt and become similar to Earth, in terms of land and water. After some time, the land started to turn into "savanna-like" fields, where some basic flora-like life forms found their place, and some basic life in the seas. Later the climate became more hotter, the flora become more and more bigger (In the time that comes, the Malkessior forests are one hell of a tourist attraction, since its "trees" on average can reach kilometers in height), the large areas of water retracting, and large quantities of them going in the air as water vapor etc., all this made certain species change and adapt to the new conditions of the planet. As you can see on the drawing, one of the sapient species is tripedal. I have another one - Gomaké, who are bipedal with four upper extremities, and I'm working on the appearance on them, but I imagine them as having a more humanoid form.
It used to be a few planimal species displaying some hints of intelligence. Before long, it seems, many joined the group. Those who were somewhat intelligent, became nearly semi-sapient. Later when the semi-sapients developed full sentience, others started displaying hints of intelligence. In just about 15.000 years time, of achieving full sentience, a couple of the sapient species developed transport between continents. According to the geological record, these frequent buffs in intelligence and complexity are like sharp spikes on the historical scale, and have happened after each major natural disaster. Another peculiar thing is, after each natural disaster, with each 10 species going extinct, 5 times more arise in their place, establishing new niches.
Humans used to consider this a freak accident, just a very incredible coincidence that will never happen again. That is, until a few centuries after first contact with the native civilizations of Malkessior, that they stumble across similar situations again, in several different places. Only four planets like this are known to exist/have existed so far (at a particular date of my timeline, I'll work on building one): Malkessior, another world named Kalonus in 14 Fornacis (HD 12596), Drennea, in 267 Carinae (HD 98292), and remnants of another such planet named Apex, in the Lyra constellation (in the present-day Ring Nebula).
Humans give these kinds of planets a special designation - "Ecosystems on Steroids"**, for their massive production of sentient life. There are implications that there is an intelligent intent behind these type of worlds. Malkessior still has a large, artificial construct orbiting it. After centuries of close contact with other extraterrestrial civilizations, none has a clue what this object is made of, or for what purpose is orbiting the planet. Theories claim that the object has something to do with the boom of life on Malkessior.
So far (at the timeline I have decided to make this happen), only Malkessior shows some indication that probably the whole phenomena of 'Ecosystems on steroids' is artificialy done.
Humans make first contact with the natives of Malkessior via the 'Ba-Kouké'
culture, when an exploration probe enters the vicinity of the star system, and a skirmish battle between the 'Ba-Kouké'
and an insectoid extraterrestrial race now known as 'Ariagu'
is witnessed. Neither pays any attention to the probe because it traveled using cold fusion technology, that leaves no heat signature. So, since the Malkessiors use thermal sensory organs, and the 'Ariagu'
don't seem to have interest in anything in space that is not organic in nature, the probe remains undetected. Humans developed another theory as to why humanity wasn't contacted for such a long time until the previous century - communication and perceptions of reality vary, and often lead space cultures to explore vast areas of space, ignoring other obvious (for some) signs of life.
The natives of Malkessior have different concepts of time, slow metabolism, and really large lifespans, so they never bothered inventing FTL travel. Not until they met humans. Soon after, they start to redesign their spacecraft, researching FTL possibilities with organic forms of transportation.
After an incident with a probe that was sent to examine the atmosphere of Malkessior, where it bumped into a gas-bag creature by accident, and fell on ground - that the native Malkessiorians showed any tangible interest in anything human. The probe exploded as it fell, and probably gave a very peculiar thermal signature that stirred up the interest of the native cultures. This incident almost led to a war between the humans and the 'Ba-Kouké'
, if it wasn't for the miracle called genetic engineering, to create a 'genetic mediator' - A splice of human/Malkessiorian genomes. This was done using remnant genetic engineering technology of one of their damaged and derelict craft in space. Humans still cannot come even close with their own technology to the genetic engineering capabilities that these aliens have developed. It seems each type of craft has a section of its interior where a 'Splicing Chamber' is situated. If foreign genetic material is "sensed" by the chamber, it automatically takes a sample of it and it creates a spliced organism.
Most of the "tree" analogues on Malkessior, are big enough that humans have made small colonies on several, and built a small research center on one, and just observe, and explore the native life. Most of them can't see the humans, not only because of their different sense of vision, but the humans wanted to remain "invisible" as well, by wearing suits that give off cold energy on the out, but keep it warm for the humans inside, adn vice versa, depending on the weather. They are now researching technology that might make them totally invisible and unnoticeable, by bending sound (like on Earth, for full invisibility, one needs to bend light).
Humans in this period of time (God I need a timetable/timeline or something), live in separated, isolated societies, and don't share much information and technology amongst the different groups of them. For example, I chose that the people who sent the exploration probes to Eta Pegasi were from Brazil. So the news of the alien life there reaches Earth, but its limited to only South America, who replace the USA, in power, economy, and technological development. And they have a unity similar to what the USA has today. But I'll add details about that another time
For some details on the planet and its statistics, go here Malkessior
Updated with more information on ~17.01.2011~
* Planimal (plant + animal). A hypothetical type of life form often used as an example in astrobiology.
** "Planets/Worlds on steroids" seems to be a term NASA has developed before me, so I had to change that into ecosystems. Damn you NASA!!! >_< *waves fist*
I will add more, as time goes by .
This is another alien concept I had, but this time in its more 'evolved' state, instead of portrayal on how it looked (or might have looked) millions of years ago, as a tiny microorganism.
I will add more information on the cultures of this planet, with each new deviation associated with it. For now, it's enough
I hope you guys like it