Life on Trapist

Angela Wall

Trapist is an exoplanet with half of earth’s size and gravity. It possesses a highly magnetic core and its surface is littered with exotic chemicals. despite this, Trapist has a thing only one other planet in the know galaxy: intelligent life. Told from the perspective of a human biologist on the first expedition to Trappist, we explore the alien wonders on this distant world, while being guided by the native Xeno Sapiens.

This world building project is a practice in speculative Xeno biology, informed by real biological principals, and atheistically inspired by 50s sci fi. This project has been developed over the course of 3 years; the bulk of if being drawn in digital mediums.


When beginning any speculative biology, it’s important to consider the environment. Here is a world map of Trapist, showcasing the small oceans, mountain ranges, uninhabitable equator, and polar ice caps. Such obstacles would keep organism populations separated, allowing for extreme biodiversity. Similar to the divide between Eurasian and American ecology, Trapist features a similar separation in northern and southern hemispheres.


Alien creatures in their natural habitats. A key component to creature believability is considering their ecological niche.

A digging alien pauses, sensing the presences of metal rich worms under the soil. Its bright colours both signal to mates and warn predators of the toxic levels of heavy metals within its flesh.
A dormant wind sieve. During Trapist’s acid rain monsoons this creature returns to life and releases long sticky filaments to trap small airborne organisms. But for now, it sleeps, desiccated and nearly mummified.
In the razor grass fields, a stilt hoof bull stares down the observer. This battered male guards it’s territory, hoping for a herd of females to wander through.
Suspended motionless in the stagnant ocean, a metaped tadpole waits for prey to swim by: patiently storing energy, getting ready to grow legs and leave the water. These tadpoles live under the superorganism, called the skiff, that covers large swaths of Trapist’s still oceans.


The pengfin is a small, blind aquatic predator that inhabits the northern ocean. As this creature hunts in pitch darkness under the skiff it utilizes echolocation to navigate. It’s blind, only able to detect light and dark with eyespots on its back. When not hunting this creature can be found basking on the surface of skiff.
The pengfin is a highly adapted relative of the strange gaseous flyers that dominate Trapist’s skies. It has lost its ability of flight in favour of swimming. This pengfin relative can be found soaring above open oceans. Internal hydrogen gas bladders keep these creatures afloat: whether its in water or air.
When on dry land, this creature utilizes a tail hop to move. While clumsy, a single hop can launch this animal up to 3 meters forward.
A close up of the pengfin to better show off details, such as the sensitive whiskers at the end of their mandibles.


The Xeno sapiens are the dominate species of Trapist. They are a sapient people, possessing equal or greater levels of intelligence compared to humans. As a society they are technologically advanced, collaborating with human scientists to construct anchored wormholes to allow for the two species to meet in person.

Similar to an elephant’s trunk, X. Sapien facial manipulators have no bones save for small tendon anchors on the edges of their graspers. The combination of many tendons and muscles gives them a degree of dexterity that is slightly lesser then that of a human.
A collection of simplified self depictions of X.Sapiens.
A diagram of their two-brained nervous system. The smaller forebrain processes visual information, controls non voluntary reflexes, and houses the organic radio transmitter that allows for them to communicate. The hind brain holds greater thought, memory, language, and motor functions. While they are deaf, the metallic filaments in their nervus system allows them to “hear” radio waves. Their radio wave-based language, in incredibly complex and will likely never be translated into an audio version.
Their multi chambered, symmetrical heart. This powerful organ allows for incredible feats of athleticism, but due to the chemical inefficiency of their blood, needs to pump very fast to maintain a wakeful state.


Xeno Sapiens are a metaped: a class of organisms on Trapist that go through several different life stages and occupy different ecological niches at different ages. Xeno Sapiens hatch from eggs into a parasitic larva, then burrow out of the hosts and transition into aquatic tadpoles. These then grow legs and become sub adults: this stage lasts the longest and is when they are at their most intelligent. After 27 earth years they then metamorphosis into sexually dimorphic winged adults, where they breed, die, and start the cycle again.

An ootheca or egg case and spermatophore(containing male genetic material)). These barbed ootheca are injected into a host organism and can contain up to 60 eggs.
The Xeno Sapiens larvae. These underdeveloped creatures live as parasites, sucking up nutrients from their host. The orange material is muscle tissue, and at its center is a filament of bone, ready to grow into sturdy limbs. After two seasons these larvea burrow out of their hosts to become tadpoles.
This is a Xeno Sapien tadpole. These aquatic juveniles are beginning to show the spark of intelligence, and hunt in packs. Eventually they’ll grow legs and become sub adults.
The variation pigmentation, eye shape, and skin marking between sub adults.

A full adult male and female. Throughout their lives X. sapiens are biologically hermaphroditic, possessing underdeveloped male and female organs. At the onset of complete maturation, hormones trigger the development of one set of organs. Premodern medicine, the gender determination was dependent on quality of life: a high stress life would likely result in female development, and a low stress would result in male. The modern X. sapien has the luxury of artificially choosing their biological gender. However, most individuals are reluctant to face this decision.

Xeno Sapiens are semelparous: this means after mating, they die. In contrast humans are iteroparous: we do not die when we breed. Once the final metamorphosis is completed, they only have a month to find a mate, breed, and deposit offspring. This biological factor shapes many ideologies on Trapist. Xeno sapiens have set lifespans of only 30 years.


A way to emphasize how alien the conditions of trapist are, is by showing the necessary survival suit a human would need explore the planet. As the atmosphere has high concentrations of sulphur dioxide, it is toxic to carbon-based life, and a life support system would be needed in the back of the suit: complete with oxygen recyclers. The outer layer of the suit is made up of a reflective metallic fabric, with reflects the extreme heat of the planet. The suit is heavily weighted and purposefully movement restrictive to slow down the bone and muscle degeneration humans experience in low gravity.
Size comparison of a human, Xeno Sapien, and a X.sapien ancestor.

Angela Wall

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Hello, I’m Angela and I’m a Vancouver based artist born and raised. My ever-evolving art practice has grown to encompass pixel art, line drawings, digital and watercolour painting, and 3d modeling. The above project is just a sample of my diverse practice. I’m deeply inspired by biology, horror media, outdated aesthetics, and fringe outsider art. In my spare time, you can find me picking bugs up off the ground or taking care of my beloved fish and shrimp tanks.

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