Imagine a world like our own, just 6.5 light years away – but teeming with life forms unlike anything found on Earth. Take a simulated journey into the near future, where astronomers and biologists alike marvel at the potential of Darwin IV, a nearby planet with two suns, 60% gravity and an atmosphere capable of supporting life.
Having identified Darwin as a likely home for life, scientists send a series of unmanned probes to the planet. Initially, the expectation is to find microscopic life. But the probes soon find themselves in the middle of a developed ecosystem, teeming with diverse creatures of all sizes.
Peering through the "eyes" of the probes, marvel at the planet's bizarre inhabitants – like the lumbering Groveback, which supports a mini forest of vegetation on its back; deadly Prongheads who hunt in packs like wolves; and the graceful Gyrosprinter, an elk-like creature with a body dotted by luminescent biolights.
The look and biology of each animal is based on the laws of evolution and physics, then modeled to fit the hypothetical environment of Darwin IV. Leading minds in the fields of paleontology, astrophysics and astrobiology explain how these creatures might evolve otherworldy characteristics like hollow bodies, "jet" propulsion and piercing tongue skewers.