Aliens and Insects IV: Alien Brains & Telepathic Superorganisms.

At the same time that many in the scientific community maintain that we have no reason to believe extraterrestrials would ever look like us (which is to say humanoid), they paradoxically maintain that such entities would nonetheless think just like us and communicate in a similar vein; interestingly, the accounts of alien abduction seem to indicate a diametrically opposing view. These humanoid, apparently insectival creatures have advanced minds, it would appear, but they seem to be minds quite distinct from our own, and the coexistence of those two facts when held up against the perspectives of comparative neuroanatomy are not as paradoxical as might be commonly conceived.

According to Paul Patton in his December 2008 Scientific American article, “One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom,” as popular as Paul MacLean’s “triune brain theory” may be, it is an overly simplistic and misleading model. Rather than a linear process in which successful developments of the brain are piled atop one another, with modern, non-human species bearing brains that constitute earlier stages, parallel developments have been made, culminating in widely-divergent nervous systems across the animal kingdom. “Substantial cognitive abilities have evolved multiple times, based on differing neural substrates,” he writes.

In the attempts to grasp how different the central nervous system (CNS) of the Grays are from our own, we might turn towards the earthly insects with whom we are familiar, and here we find that they may indeed be quite alien to us.

According to Anna Stockl, the CNS of vertebrates such as human beings operates like a monarchy. It is, in other words, a centralized system, with the brain in the skull governing the body through the dorsal nerve of the spine. Among insects, it’s more akin to a decentralized federation. The CNS is composed not of a spinal cord but of a ventral nerve cord that stretches across the front or bottom of the insect and serves to connect the ganglia — clusters of neurons that function as brains — that occupy multiple areas of the body.

Two of these ganglia reside in the head, and they are known as the supraesophageal ganglion or anterior brain, located behind the esophagus, and the subesophageal ganglion or posterior brain, which resides just below the esophagus. The anterior brain is composed of three lobes: he protocerebrum, the deutocerebrum, and the tritocerebrum, which assimilates data from the other two lobes and connects them to the posterior brain, which in turn connects them to the ventral nerve cord. This nerve cord connects the dual brains in the head to the segmental ganglia, which occupy each segment of the insect body. Functions of those segments therefore have a decent degree of autonomy, which is why a decapitated insect can not only survive for days or weeks noggin-free but can continue to crawl around, fly and fuck as well.

While there are no cases to my knowledge in which someone managed to slice off the head of a Gray alien, I was reminded, in the midst of researching the insect hypothesis, of an online account a friend had me read back in high school that may have some relevance. It was an account by a man named Randy Terpstra who, my research suggests, has since died, and his story is strange, even for a presumably alien experience. I must confess that if there were not particular correlations between his story and my own I might have dismissed them in a reactionary sense (much as it is with respect to Strieber). He described a series of strange events centered around missing time episodes and vivid “dreams” featuring a disembodied voice that only identified himself as a “teacher”. In one of these dreams he found himself in a space engulfed in a pinkish blur before a metallic table, on which he found a creature, presumably dead, fitting the description of the Grays, which the voice tells him is an enemy that he will have to battle with. Terpstra continues:

“He tells me to turn it over. I reach out and push the body onto its side. It is cold and rather damp. It feels like a lizard, leathery and soft. I am looking at the back of the head. There is a hole (oblong) at the base of the neck where it meets the head. The Voice tells me that the creatures have two brains. Anterior and Posterior. (I have since learned that this means front and rear). The creatures use the brains simultaneously. Because of this, it is almost impossible to kill the creatures. If shot, unless shot in both the front and rear of the head, the creature continues to live. One of the brains is dead, but the other continues to carry on. If one of the brains dies, the ‘power’ is now diminished but not terminated.”

He was then told that these two brains are separated by a bulletproof bony plate that divides the brain cavities and are connected by a bundle of nerves that runs through it, and that aside from shooting them in the head from the front and back, the only way to kill them — and it would kill them instantly — was to penetrate the aforementioned hole at the base of the neck at a depth of 3-5 inches with the blade of a knife or perhaps a bullet.

While not all of this may not resonate entirely with what we know of our earthly insects, the parallels are close enough to arouse my curiosity. And while they may have evolved from an insect species, trying to learn about them by studying our own insects may only get us so far — as far as another alien species might get by trying to understand us by studying our simian ancestors, for instance.

If their ancestors were like our insects, intelligence might have dawned in the protocerebrum of the anterior brain. This lobe not only controls vision but contains the higher brain centers known as the mushroom bodies, which is what enables an insect to learn and store short- and long-term memory. The anterior brain can vary within species, however, and in eusocial insects it can also vary in accordance with caste.

Among eusocial insects, the aforementioned decentralized nature of the CNS may extend to the colony as a whole.

Take the Social Brain Hypothesis, which posits that individuals in social species like human beings develop larger brains (or at least larger brain regions that deal with processing complex data) because within the complex social interactions that characterize their society such adaptations have survival value. This may indeed be true for vertebrates such as ourselves, but it does not necessarily extend to insects. Case in point: when researchers elected to study wasps — some of whom are solitary, some of whom live in small groups, and others that live in the most complex colonies of which we’re aware — they found that this hypothesis doesn’t apply to them. The wasps’ reliance on higher brain regions was reduced as they evolved from solitary to more complex societies, and to help explain why this is the Distributed Cognition Hypothesis was developed.

Unlike us social vertebrates, most insect colonies are populated by close relatives. They therefore have a shared interest in carrying on their collective genes and rely upon one another to achieve the end of survival and reproduction, resulting in a highly organized, structurally-complex, goal-directed society in which the individual members are so tightly united that they hardly constitute individuals at all. Instead, the group takes on the collective traits normally ascribed to a singular organism and the “individuals” therein serve as its various functions. They are, in effect, a “superorganism.”

In the simplest, most general way, the reproductive castes serve as the reproductive organs, the sterile workers and soldiers it’s somatic body. This is also why the workers in a eusocial insect colony are frequently compared to the neurons in the human brain. Individually, neurons offer little more than simple, stimulus-response behavior; collectively, however, they form the brain, the emergent intelligence of which puts any individual neuron to shame. Similarly, workers in an insect colony have reduced individual brain power, making the members of a colony dumber than a member of a solitary species, but the emergent intelligence of the colony is superior because they have shared brain power — or distributed cognition.

Insects in a colony are different from neurons in some respects, of course, not least of which due to the fact that they are not physically bound to one another. Instead, cooperation within the insect colonies we are familiar with requires some form of communication, such as pheromones or, as in the case of honey bees, a symbolic dance language. In the case of the Gray Mantodea, that form of communication is undoubtedly telepathy.

In human beings, parapsychological studies seem to indicate that the strongest instances of telepathic communication are found between identical twins (naturally-occurring clones), and then increasingly less between other siblings, other relatives, close friends and married couples, and finally between distant friends and strangers. Aside from genetic and emotional bonds, age also seems to be a factor, which is to say that the younger one is and the closer two people are in age, the more telepathically conductive they are. Following this logic, we could assume that the strongest cases of telepathy would occur between a group of young, closely-related members of the same species and age group, which is precisely what the Smalls appear to be — and that’s leaving alone the fact that telepathy would appear to be their central if not sole means of communication. Given that telepathic effects are rather immediate, unlike the way our familiar insects communicate, there is good reason to think that the superorganism mentality may be more pronounced among the Grays than it is in earthly insects. The benefits and detriments involved in this kind of mentality are therefore also likely to be more pronounced than those which we have otherwise observed.

While they are not eusocial insects, some of the survival advantages of the superorganism mentality can be seen when flocks of birds or school of fish react more quickly as a whole than they do individually. They apparently accomplish this by means of picking up on the visual cues provided by the body language of other members in the group in response to stimuli such as prey or predators. Imagine how this effect might be amplified if such creatures used telepathy as their main mode of communication.

Just as we might fail to understand the Gray Mantodea given our tendency to anthropomorphize, they seem to have difficulty understanding the nature of individuality — and of how things operate among social animals, as opposed to eusocial ones. An easy example would be the plethora of occasions in which they show scenes of global cataclysms to abductees, either on a large screen or directly into their minds telepathically. They then either insist that the abductee must prevent such scenarios from happening or make them believe that these scenarios have already happened and then chastise them for not having done enough to prevent it. Though the objective may merely be to study emotional responses, it still provides some insight into their own psychology. It is as if they perceive the abductee as singularly responsible for the cataclysm; as if s/he could change the collective human perspective on a fucking dime. It reveals that they are clearly incapable of wrapping their bulbous heads around the concept of human individuality and the limitations of our ability to effect such collective change. They talk to an abductee as if they were speaking not to an individual, but an appendage of the human superorganism, implying more than a bit of psychological projection on their part.

In order to foster this superorganism mentality, what would be sacrificed is what human beings would consider our cherished individuality, as it would enable members to serve themselves or their faction rather than the colony as a whole. Individuality and personal liberty would serve as a threat to the security of the colony.

As a consequence, insects only perceive and interact with each other only as collective categories: colony, caste and age. The alien society, which seems to be merely a more complex rendition of the familiar social structure of the eusocial insect colony, also seems to embrace this psychology. Even in terms of clothing or other adornments, there are no individual differences — only ones that reflect the caste in question. Rather than providing personal names, they identify themselves only as their roles: The Doctor, The Leader, The Teacher, Scientists.

It appears that they may lack autobiographical memory — the life narrative composed of episodic and semantic memory which supports the sense of personal identity experienced by human beings. While we cannot know if this is the case with insects, it would certainly appear to support the superorganism mentality.

In his book, The Threat, Jacobs offers some abductee testimony suggesting that this is true, in the very least, with respect to the hybrids. “According to abductee reports,” he writes, “the hybrids have no memories of parents, siblings, family life, nurturing, or other emotionally important events that bond humans to each other. In a long conversation, one late-stage hybrid told Reshma Kamal that his memories were quite different from hers.”

The hybrid explained to her that while he has met his parents and understands who they are, he lacks the capacity to bond with them, to look back on personal “memories and histories” and recall things such as “picnics and parties” shared with them. Instead, his understanding is limited to medically-oriented “files” regarding his genealogy. He is a “robot,” he explained, in the sense that a robot is, as Reshmal put it, “something that you create and it does what you want it to do and nothing else.” Or as he put it, hybrids such as himself are “just here to do work” and the aliens are “in total control of everything.” Given that the hybrids operate alongside Grays as members of the worker caste and this sort of mentality supports identification with the group, we might assume this is also the case for the Grays themselves.

It should be noted, however, that while this superorganism behavior is seen quite clearly in the Smalls, later stages in development do seem to introduce more and more individual character. As they develop, they also appear to have more focus and discipline with respect to their personal telepathic abilities, suggesting that the telepathic superorganism effect we observe in the Smalls might constitute a sort of psychological womb out of which they slowly emerge as they develop as individuals; a dominant collective mind that nurtures them until they gain a more independent mind that can control their telepathy.

Despite what seems to me to be clear evidence of this superorganism mentality among the Gray Mantodea, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a major critique of my comparison with it in the past to the “hive mentality” of bees. This came during a relatively brief period of weirdness of a kind that happens periodically in my life in which I had a “conversation” with someone regarding the very hypothesis I’ve attempted to flesh out in this paper. The Conversation either happened on the evening of September 9, 2011 or the following day, and I believe it may have been a half-remembered encounter:

“I remember explaining that the Small Grays seemed, in abduction reports, to be in a subordinate position to the Tall Grays, who in turn also seemed to have an authority: taller, slender beings in cloaks or robes that are often said to look like a Praying Mantis. The person said “Praying Mantis” just before I said it, which indicated to me — with great excitement and enthusiasm on my part at the time, I might add, forcing me to smile and give a little laugh — that they were actually listening to me, taking it all in, on the same page as me and, even better, were apparently well-read on the subject. It went beyond that at the time, however. I remember thinking just after the person said that how weird it was, because it seemed as though he had read my mind. I went on to say that the Mantis species we know on earth have young that do not always look like miniature versions of Mantises, but instead often look like ants, so it was my theory that the Grays were merely the younger versions, the “nymphs” of the taller Mantis beings. They were basically an advanced insect species. I then explained how they also seemed to be part of a “hive mind” like bees, and this is where the person again interjected, this time to express a difference of opinion, feeling that the “bee” analogy was insufficient or misleading.”

On a positive note, if this was indeed a telepathic conversation I had during an encounter that was veiled in one of their telepathic dream-scenarios, he seemed to confirm the heart of the hypothesis: that Grays constitute Mantis nymphs and they’re all an advanced insect species. So far as I can recall, however, he did not detail what was so insufficient or misleading about my bee analogy for the alien mentality. Did he mean the analogy as he understood it, which is to say that it did not fit with his advanced knowledge on both the mentality of the Grays and the mentality of our earthly bees, or did he merely mean to imply that how I personally understood (or misunderstood) the mentality of bees at the time provided an insufficient analogy? And what was a sufficient analogy, in either case?

It would be nice to have a follow-up conversation, is all I’m saying.

***

SOURCES:
– The Andreasson Affair: The True Story of a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind, by Raymond E. Fowler
– Into the Fringe, by Karla Turner.
– Communion: A True Story, by Whitley Strieber.
– Majestic, by Whitley Strieber.
– Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions, by David Jacobs.
– The Threat: Revealing the Secret Alien Agenda, by David Jacobs.
– UFO Hunters, 303: The Greys Conspiracy.
– Inside the ant colony – Deborah M. Gordon
– Ant Colony IQ: Just How Smart is an Ant?
– How Monogamy Made Superorganisms Evolve
– What Is A Eusocial Animal? | Earth Unplugged
– Why the insect brain is so incredible – Anna Stöckl
– Do Social Insects Share Brain Power? Drexel University
– Do Bugs Have Brains? Neuro Transmissions
– Will Alien Life Resemble Life on Earth? Harvard Biologist Jonathan Losos Explains
– Convergent Evolution vs Divergent Evolution | Shared Traits Explained
– Top 6 Examples of Convergent Evolution
– Convergent Evolution speech by Richard Dawkins
– On Extraterrestrials– 3. Insect Nervous System– Why are there so many insects? – Murry Gans– Why Aren’t There Giant Insects?– The Social Brain: Ralph Adolphs at TEDxCaltech– What Happens When You Put A Spider And A Fly In A Vacuum Chamber? Will They Survive?
– How bees use swarm intelligence to make decisions
– How do insects become queens or workers?

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Aliens and Insects III: Alien Exoskeletons.

According to David Aguilar in the third episode in the third season of UFO Hunters, the Grays would seem to have come from a world with less gravity than the earth, where being bipedal would be easier and where their bodies would grow to be tall and slender yet remain capable of propping up their gargantuan gourds. Growing hair might also he selected against in such an environment, as it would float around, obscuring their vision. We know that if humans were to exist in a low gravity environment we would need to keep up a rigorous exercise regimen, otherwise muscle tone and bone density would be lost, so evolution may have selected for alternatives — such as, perhaps, an exoskeleton.

The uniformly-colored, featureless “skin” of the Grays reveals no signs of a skeletal system or musculature, which would make sense if they were insects. Insects don’t have skin and bones, they have an exoskeleton composed of three main layers. There is the uppermost layer, known as the integument, beneath that the epidermis, and then the basement membrane. According to Jacobs, the “skin” of the small Grays bears “a soft rubbery or plastic quality.” Perhaps not coincidentally, in larval form the uppermost, integument layer of an insect’s exoskeleton is a hard though lightweight and pliable outer cuticle. The integument undergoes a process called sclerotization in insect adults in which it darkens and toughens, though remains flexible, perhaps corresponding to the reported “rough, leathery feel” of the Talls. Sometimes the Talls are also described as having wrinkles; similarly, with some spiders, a new exoskeleton is often wrinkled as the old exoskeleton could not provide enough space for the larger replacement growing beneath it.

For Grays in general there is also, despite the lack of genitalia, an often strong sense of the gender of a particular being. Both female and male genders have been encountered in every caste, as a matter of fact, including the mantis levels. If it is not mere projection on the part of the abductee, it might stem from the fact that while still at the stage of the Gray nymphs they cannot reproduce as they have not yet developed the plumbing required, sex is already determined and plays a role in their neurology, if nothing else, and so is consequently conveyed in their telepathy. Only in their eventual adult, imago form as the alien Mantis might they have developed naughties and be capable of reproducing.

Their exoskeletons also act as natural armor, protecting them from the environment, and even from the degrees of pressure in a vacuum chamber that would make mammals such as ourselves explode. These exoskeletons may also be advantageous for space travel. As Strieber references in Communion and others have referenced elsewhere, there was a November 29, 1983 letter written by physicist Dr. Robert I. Sarbacher, who was a consultant with the US Department of Defense Research and Development Board, to William Steinman that dealt with what he allegedly knew secondhand regarding recovered alien spacecraft and bodies. In this letter, Sarbacher stated:

“There were reports that instruments or people operating these machines were also of very light weight, sufficient to withstand the tremendous deceleration and acceleration associated with their machinery. I remember in talking with some of the people at the office that I got the impression these ‘aliens’ were constructed like certain insects we have observed on earth, wherein because of the low mass the inertial forces involved in operation of these instruments would be quite low.”

This exoskeleton may even explain why the Grays, despite their popular name, also come in different colors — pitch black, pale white, and in some cases even blue, at least according to early results of cross-analysis of abduction reports from MUFON’s Abduction Transcription Project. One means of natural camouflage the aliens may share with some species of the earthly Mantis is the ability to adapt the color of their exoskeleton to their surroundings. Called ‘fire melanism’, such Mantis species have the capability to change the color of their exoskeleton after their next molt so that, for instance, they can adapt to the black color of scorched earth rather than remaining green, which served as sufficient camouflage in their formerly grassy habitat. The Transcription Project also revealed that the rooms observed by abductees when aboard the craft were white, gray and, more rarely, black. Might the differing colors of the Grays be related to their prolonged stays on board craft with interiors colored in those particular ways?

Another characteristic that the exoskeleton might explain is their apparent lack of breathing. There is no expansion and contraction of the chest, Jacobs tells us, and during Mindscan abductees do not report feeling or hearing the inhalation or exhalation of air. It may only be that they don’t breathe in the way in which we do. A human being breathes by inhaling air in through the lungs, from which it is circulated throughout the body in the blood. Insects have no lungs, breathing instead through tiny holes in the sides of their exoskeletons known as spiracles, which open and close as the abdominal muscles expand and contract. From the spiracles, the air is taken through small tubes known as the trachea which carry the oxygen to the insect’s tissues.

If they are insects and breathe through spiracles, it may also give us another hint as to the nature of their home planet. The upper limit on the body size of an insect is dictated by the degree of oxygen in the atmosphere due to the limitations of the spiracle form of breathing. The current oxygen composition of the earth’s atmosphere presently rests at around 21%, for instance, and so could not support insects the size of the Grays. In earth’s past, however, Lady Gaea was a real airhead. During the Carboniferous period, some 359.2 million years ago, the earth’s peak oxygen content came to be roughly 35%, permitting gigantism for both the amphibians and arthropods, with the largest insects being about a foot and a half long. Due to their even larger size, if the Grays are insects they would have to have come from a planet with a higher oxygen content than the earth — even during the Carboniferous period. They may have evolved their tiny-slit “nostrils” and “mouths” to compliment their spiracles; they may even actually be extra large spiracles. While some may speculate that even if they had extra spiracles this placement in the areas of the nostrils and mouth would be unlikely, convergent evolution could potentially explain such correspondences.

These spiracles may even help to explain how they can exist within earth’s atmosphere, at least for a limited amount of time, without any apparent need for breathing apparatuses. The lowered oxygen, one would think, would have to be an obstacle, but there may be a way around this given their insect nature. It is known that by closing their spiracles and trapping air some insects can exist in an underwater environment for extensive periods; by an analogous process, perhaps the aliens can exist for extensive periods in an environment of depleted oxygen by “holding their breath.”

What a correspondence with earthly insects cannot explain, however, is how they eat and excrete waste, as Grays lack the typical insect mouthparts and even the antennae with which they would touch and smell their food. Perhaps they are in part plantlike, as others have suggested, as this would resonate to some degree with the spiracles already discussed.

Akin to an insect’s spiracles, every part of a plant respires or “breathes” through microscopic pores, which allows it to inhale and exhale in a process known as diffusion. In addition to breathing, however, plants also use these pores to acquire the ingredients necessary to manufacture their own food. Chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color, collects sunlight and carbon dioxide from the leaves as well as the water, nutrients and minerals that the roots have collected from the soil. From these ingredients the chlorophyll, through a process known as photosynthesis, whips up some simple sugars to serve as sustenance and poops the waste product, oxygen, out through its pores and into the air. Might it be possible that the Grays manufacture their food internally in an analogous process, not only breathing through their exoskeleton but drawing in the ingredients for sustenance and excreting waste in a similar fashion?

There have been peculiar reports regarding them entirely submerged in tanks of liquid without any evident breathing apparatus, like enduring, full-body baptisms. In one such case, an abductee was told that they were “eating and sleeping.” In addition, alien-looking young are described as being “painted” with a substance as a form of nursing.

Many abductees have also described being thrown into such vats of liquid themselves, as David Jacobs describes in his book, Secret Life. In Chapter 6, Jacobs details some specialized and “irregular” procedures that some if not most abductees never bring up, while others report being subjected to them continuously. One such procedure he calls the Breathing Pool. Here, an abductee is made to submerge themselves in a tank or swimming pool filled with a fluid and breathe it is as they would the air, and they find success in this endeavor. Jacobs describes the liquid as clear, resembling water, and that after the experience, the abductee is often but not always dried off. The single experience Jacobs offered as an example in the book — and all subsequent ones, as it was never mentioned again — was that told by abductee James Austino under hypnosis regarding an experience he had in 1988. An adolescent hybrid urged him to get into a big, ovular pool filled with greenish, nearly luminescent fluid of viscous consistency. Despite his initial resistance, after she slowly descends and stands in the pool up to her chest he ultimately submits to her insistence. He describes it as being body-temperature and inducing a sort of numbness. She then tells him, “Just lay back, and relax,” and then he then sits, sinks down about four to five feet to the bottom, and begins to breathe in this substance. She then pulls herself out of the pool and he blacks out.

Some time after I had first read Jacob’s book and the aforementioned experience, I came across an associated abduction account on YouTube. It was by a man who told of a very strange and intriguing experience, even for an an alien abduction. Interestingly, like James Austino’s experience, it occurred sometime in 1988. He recalled the experience in spurts, blacking out for a period of time before finding himself in another strange circumstance in an apparently ongoing sequence of events. Despite his apparently limited knowledge of the phenomenon, in the midst of his experience, in another period between coming to and blacking out, he described his own rather haunting experience with such a Breathing Pool.

When he awoke this time around, he described how his found himself naked in shiny, metallic, funnel-shaped pool roughly twenty yards wide and of considerable depth. It was filled with a greenish-black, gel-like fluid. With him were at least fifteen other captives, and he had the impression that some of them had been here for years. All were screaming in panic and most engaged in futile escape attempts. The fluid made the surface so slick that it made you slip if you made any effort to exit the pool, though gaining any ground appeared to be a futile effort anyway. He described one man who, despite constantly getting closer to freedom than the rest, would be hit by some beam of light that would send him back in. He found this man’s efforts to be utter madness, all too aware that even the guy managed to escape the pool and the beam there was simply nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Someone — though he was unable to recall who — assured him that there was nothing to be afraid of and that if he submerged himself he could not only breathe the gel but eat it, digest it, and dispose of it in the natural manner.

He described, in other words, the fluids capacity to serve as a self-recyclable substitute for air and sustenance. If it works for humans, perhaps this is what the aliens rely on: their one-stop, self-recycling, food-court-and-restroom combo.

Aliens and Insects II: Extraterrestrial Eusocial Mantodea.

Eusocial insect species are said to bear three defining characteristics: they organize their colonies into caste systems, they rear offspring as a colony rather than relegate them to parental care, and there is an overlap in generations that enable the elder to educate the younger as they assist the elder. All three also characterize what we have observed, through abduction cases, of the alien society.

An insect colony divides labor according to four castes or less, depending on the particular species. Assuming there are four, the top two castes are reproductive castes comprised of Gynes or Queens and the Drones or Kings, both of whom are morphologically distinct from the bottom two castes, who are sterile: the Workers, who perform the labor, and the Soldiers, who are involved in defending the colony against enemies. According to David Jacobs, judging from the mass of abduction reports there also appears to be at least four levels in the alien hierarchy.

The first two types, from the bottom up, are what Jacobs calls the Small and Tall Grays, which are essentially similar but nonetheless differ from one another in important ways. In general, the eyes of a Gray are large, black, almond-shaped and slanted and stare out at you from a bulbous cranium shaped like an inverted guitar pick with a more bulbous topside. The eyes never blink and occasionally a ridge is reported around them. The nose is nonexistent, save for perhaps a bump or, according to some accounts, two slight slits for nostrils. While the mouth has on occasion been reported open like an oval or perfect circle of black, showing no signs of teeth or a tongue, typically they are described as unwavering, lipless slits. There are no changes in the mouth or any facial features for emotional expression. The relatively large head is connected to a spindly humanoid body by means of a narrow, featureless neck. Their long, stick arms and legs bend at their so-called knees and elbows. They have three long fingers and an additional digit that seems to serve as an opposable thumb. Their feet have no toes. Nothing about them physically seems to indicate a sex, either: there are no genitals or secondary sexual characteristics.

The “skin” not only appears smooth and is utterly devoid of hairs, bumps, bruises, cuts or other imperfections, but it provides no evidence of underlying bones or musculature. No jawline, ribcage, or vertebrae. No biceps or butt cheeks — or butt holes, for that matter. No evidence of hips, stomach or genitals. Their is also no suggestion of them swallowing or, for that matter, breathing. They have none of the associated chest movements, for one thing; for another, while they often hold their faces very close to the abductee for their telepathic eye-gazing, abductees never report feeling their breath. Despite their name, the Grays can come in different colors, but that color is uniform throughout their body.

At the ass-end link in the chain of command are the Smalls, which certainly constitute the workers. Standing at three or four feet tall, they do the bulk of the routine procedures with speed and efficiency and are surprisingly strong. They are felt to be male or female. They submit to the authority of the Talls who, aside from standing up to a foot taller than his workers and wearing a distinguishing coat, robe or cape, essentially looks the same, though sometimes their faces are reported as wrinkly. They have greater telepathic ability and an increased degree of personal identity than their underlings. They also move more slowly, observing and directing at a distance until they move in to carry out the more specialized tasks, such as harvesting eggs and sperm and conducting deep, telepathically-penetrating eye-gazing. Female Talls bear all the distinguishing characteristics and responsibilities that the males do and also tend to the children in the nurseries.

Presiding over the Talls are even taller beings that Jacobs calls Instectalins; others call them Insectoids, Praying Mantises, Mantis beings or Mantids. These alien Mantodea have triangular-shaped heads with large, rounded, black, wrap-around eyes. A long, flexible neck attaches the head to an incredibly thin and bony-looking humanoid body that can stand over seven feet tall. They often have to bend their necks to avoid slamming their heads against the ceiling. Their long arms, complete with long fingers, are folded upward in a messiah pose reminiscent of the familiar, earthly mantis, though they lack the pinchers and antenna. Some describe them as graceful; others speak of fast, jerky movements. They are sensed to be either male or female and are often witnessed wearing long, dark cloaks or robes with a high collar.

They may emit a high-pitched clicking sound that can be expressed both audibly and telepathically. They also have the ability to spontaneously disappear or reappear, which some interpret as a materializing and dematerializing ability. Others posit they may be exhibiting a more advanced form of the camouflage utilized by our familiar, earth-dwelling mantids. My hypothesis is that this is merely another hypnotic manifestation of their advanced telepathic capabilities. Telepathy cannot explain their ability to walk through walls, however, as they have done in some bedroom encounters. In any case, their telepathic abilities and sense of personal identity is even greater than the Talls, and if they perform any tasks in the abduction scenario, they are the procedures usually relegated to the Talls. They often remind abductees of seven-foot-tall praying mantises, less often of sizable insects that are often confused with the Mantis, namely grasshoppers or ants. Abductees sense that they are very old, even ancient.

As with the Grays, Jacobs believes there are two levels among the Mantis beings, namely ones that wear no clothing and those that are distinguished by the fact they they wear robes or cloaks with a high collar. I take some issue with this only because I haven’t seen a reason to distinguish two different castes among the Mantodea, and it seems to me they only represent a single caste. Having said that, he’s certainly known more cases than I, most of them undoubtedly cases in which he’s actually dealt with those abductees directly, so let’s accept for the moment that he’s right. This would mean that the top two castes share morphological similarity with one another, and so perhaps represent the reproductive castes; morphological similarity is also shared among the bottom two castes, as previously explained, which appear to represent the sterile castes.

Each of the four, going now from the top down, are shorter, have less authority, have weaker personal identities, and have a less-intense telepathic ability than the order above them. Though the top two castes are morphologically distinct from the bottom two, such a thing is certainly not unheard of in insect colonies, which is by no means the only reason we might assume that the Mantodea and the Grays are members of a singular, extraterrestrial, eusocial insect species.

There may be yet another, higher caste in the Gray Mantodea colony as well. Though rare in reports, at least insofar as I have seen, there do seem to be remarkably similar themes among incidents reported by abductees in which the aliens have brought them to an entity what would appear to be a tier higher than the Mantis beings — some central authority to whom even they answer.

One such story comes from Betty Andreasson Luca, specifically through Raymond Fowler’s 1979 book, The Andreasson Affair: The Documented Investigation of a Woman’s Abduction Aboard a UFO. While reliving an abduction experience from her childhood under hypnosis, Luca described how a Gray escort placed her on a glass-like floor before a “Great Door,” which was itself made of multilayered glass. It was then explained to her that it was time for her to enter the door, go “home” and see the “One,” at which time she had an OBE and, after looking back at her vacant body, entered the door. There she experienced a blinding light and with it a rapturous sense that “everything is one.” Despite attempts made in both this and another hypnosis session on May 15, 1980, Luca seemed incapable of describing to the hypnotist what resided beyond the door.

A similar experience was described by “Susan Steiner” in David Jacob’s 1999 book The Threat: Revealing the Secret Alien Agenda, where she explains what happened after an alien escorted her through a desert, alien landscape. “And then we’re like walking and he’s grabbing my hand,” she says. “He takes my hand and it seems like we’re walking up steps but there’s no steps. We’re just floating and we float up toward this building, these big glass doors.” Though the transcript provided by Jacobs does not include what, if anything, she might have remembered seeing beyond those doors, I have to wonder what her full account of this experience might reveal. Like Luca, was she simply unable to properly articulate her experience?

The frustration over the matter of what might be behind that huge glass door — or doors — continues in an account provided by abductee Kim Carlsberg, though in her case the memory did not arise under hypnosis. In her book Beyond My Wildest Dreams, she describes how on October 18, 1991, she awoke to a blast of light and found herself “walking through a sea of glowing mist, accompanied by an entourage of diminutive grey beings.” Astonished at her degree of lucidity and control, she decided to take the opportunity to discover who was ultimately responsible for what these creatures had been doing to her. Fully admitting the cheesy nature of the demand, she asked them to take her to their leader. To her astonishment, they then seemed to submit to her request:

“The vapor dissipated as we approached a towering set of double doors. The doors parted majestically and my mind plunged into blackness. I regained consciousness as I approached the same doors from the opposite side. My request had been granted but it was obviously deemed important that my interlude remain wrapped in a cocoon of forgetfulness.”

In reflection upon this experience in her book, Kim describes her sense that the Grays were appendages of some unified consciousness, akin to “a beehive, where worker-drones, soldiers, and nurses minister to the needs of the queen, all acting under the dominion of a vast, mass-mind… a ‘hive’ mentality.” This would seem to resonate with Betty’s description of the “One” residing behind the “Great Door.”

If Jacobs is in part incorrect and the Mantis beings represent a single caste, might they be the Drones or Kings, and might “the leader” that resides behind the door or doors be the Gyne or Queen, founder of the invading colonies, puller of all the strings in the interstellar Gray Mantodea colony? What might this being look like? Though it may be a leap, there are vague suggestions that we might have been given a glimpse.

In her first book, Into the Fringe (pages 102-103) Karla Turner describes speaking with her son, David, who had experienced an apparent recollection of two scenes superimposed over one another. One of these images depicted a sandstorm on a world that was entirely desert, and “the only way I could tell the sky from the ground was that the sky was a lighter shade of tan.” The second image depicted “an outside area at night, pitch-black. But I could see something in front of me. It looked like a fifteen-foot-tall tree trunk or irregular column, and it was covered with thick, dark brown fur” and while he “could see some sort of appendage near the top of the column”, he was clueless as to its nature.

As Karla Turner noted in that same book, this experience bears an uncanny resemblance to an incident described in chapter 26 of Whitley Strieber’s 1989 novel, Majestic, which is a fictional account based on the Roswell story. In the novel, Nick Duke, a Baltimore reporter, investigates a lead given to him by Wilfred Stone, an ex-director of the CIA. In the chapter in question, the character of Wilfred Stone describes what to him was a strange and confusing experience in which he seemed to have found himself on a planet which appeared like Saturn in which he was “standing in a desert. It was strewn with sharp black boulders that shone dully in the weak light.” He described “the grit underfoot” and how “the air was crackling dry and the sky was brown.” He felt as if he were some unthinking animal as he ran across the world. He described two suns, one that was just setting as the scene began, leaving him in darkness, and the other, red sun rising in the midst of his encounter with what appeared to be a gigantic insect. It was the furry tree trunk description that resonated with David’s mental image, and David seemed to be describing the insect’s legs. Strieber wrote:

“For an instant I saw the complex face of the thing that had held me. It looked like nothing so much as a tremendous mantis. But those eyes — huge, reflecting the red air — were not blank. I was shocked. Somebody was looking at me. Joy rang out. There was peace, wisdom and then a cock of the head: the irony of our situation. Soundless in the charged air, laughter.”

Among the earthly insects, queens serve as the founder of an insect colony and her primary function is laying an enormous amount of eggs that ultimately become colony members. They can live up to 500 times longer than the typical worker and have a longer lifespan than most insects in general. If this is the case for any hypothetical queen among the Grays, it would stand to reason that the pattern of those with more authority being taller would continue. In light of this, might the being behind the door merely be a far more mature and therefore taller rendition of the Mantis beings with which we are now at least moderately familiar with through encounter and abduction reports — and perhaps akin to the “gigantic Mantis” Strieber referenced in his fictional work? Is Jacobs perhaps wrong after all, and are the Mantodea we see during abductions all members of the same caste, the Drones, while the Queen resides inside a suitably large structure on their desert homeworld that bears relatively large doors?

If taken literally, it seems doubtful, as the Mantis creatures, much like the Gray nymphs, appear to have male and female personalities. It does seem probable, even likely, that some being of either sex resides at the top, however.

In any case, there is still the question as to what kind of insect-like caste system the Gray Mantodea might belong to, as the insect colonies with which we are familiar are distinguished in one of two fashions. First, they can be distinguished by polyphenism, as with ants, which is to say with respect to their morphology, and so are inevitably born into their given caste and can only ever hope to die their way out of it. If this were the case with our extraterrestrial Mantodea, the Mantis beings would be born into the reproductive castes of the colony as Kings and Queens and ultimately die there, just as the Grays would be born and destined to die as sterile members of the Worker caste.

Alternatively, the castes can bear age polytheism, where the elder generation of the worker caste educates the younger and duties are defined in accordance with age. In other words, it could be that the alien society is structured so that the Small sterile nymphs, being younger and less experienced, are automatically relegated to the lowest of the Worker castes, where they are apprentices to the Talls and charged with menial duties. Once achieving a certain degree of education and physical maturity, they would then develop into the equally sterile Talls who, being more experienced, direct the activities of the Smalls and only step forward to conduct more specialized tasks. Eventually the Talls themselves develop into the imago stage and become Mantis beings, at which point they may actually have the capacity to reproduce.

All things considered, age polytheism appears to be the appropriate description of this presumably alien society, at least based on their behavior as displayed through abduction reports as a whole. Higher castes seem to not only oversee the activities of the lower caste but coach them in more specialized procedures, as if they will one day at least potentially adopt their leadership role. This still fails to explain the extreme differences between the Mantodea morphology and that of the Grays, however, which by itself, if nothing else is considered, makes polyphenism seem like the more suitable interpretation. The ultimate answer might be found by taking a closer look at the developmental style of our associated earthly, praying and preying order of insects.

Insects here develop in one of two styles. Holometabolous insects develop through “complete metamorphosis” consisting of four stages: egg, larval stage, the inactive state called the pupa (such as when butterflies- and moths-to-be spin their cocoons), and finally the adult stage known as imago. Mantis species as we know them on earth are hemimetabolous insects, however, which is to say that they develop through three stages of “incomplete metamorphosis,” so called due to the fact that there is no pupil stage, but instead a gradual development involving the molting of old exoskeletons as they grow. They are first an egg, then a nymph and finally an imago, or adult, but it’s a relatively smooth transition. Mantis Nymphs are normally similar to the adults save for their size, absence of genitalia and, in some species, their color and the absence of wings. There are other species, however, in which the nymphs are morphologically distinct from adults, appearing similar to ants. As it molts it changes size and develops morphologically, and in the process its diet may change as well.

If they are indeed age polytheistic, could this help explain the differences and similarities between the Grays and Mantis beings? This could imply that the alien caste system is organized according to stages of development (age polytheism), and only according to size and morphology (polyphenism) incidentally.

This leaves the remaining characteristics of eusociality, namely the group rearing of offspring and an overlapping of generations. At least with respect to “hybrids,” as they have been erroneously called (with the most appropriate term presently available being “transgenic organism”), the young first develop in “incubatoriums” or “baby factories,” are then raised in nurseries, and finally in on-board habitats. All aforementioned stages involve the brood being cared for by either the female Talls or older “hybrids” rather than their actual parents. They then ultimately enter the hierarchy at the level of the Smalls, where they become apprentices to the Talls and climb the chain of command as they grow and develop — incidentally, providing more evidence of age polytheism being the nature of the Gray Mantodea colony. We might assume the same is also true for the “pure” members of the alien species.

Aliens and Insects I: Evolution, Humanoids and Cosmic Convergence.

So far as we know, all life that has ever lived on earth can be traced back to a common ancestor that emerged on the scene shortly after our island earth came into existence some 4.54 billion years ago. Estimates of when “genesis” began currently come as early as 4.41 billion years ago, a mere blink of the Gaian eye, let alone the cosmic one. From that seed sprung a sapling that grew into the tree of life we’ve struggled to chart, our evolutionary history, binding all the diverse species on the planet, through evolution by means of natural selection — or more specifically, what is known as divergent evolution. This occurs first at the scale of microevolution, which creates diversity within a species — which is to say the differences between those members give them a degree of uniqueness, but they can still reproduce with other members of the species.

These differences pile up when populations of a species become geographically isolated, however, and their uniqueness consequently grows, as in the case of the finches studied by Darwin on the Galapagos islands. He found that the finches on this chain of islands were similar to one another as well as to the finches found in America, though all the populations differed slightly from one another. His hypothesis was that the finches on each of the islands all had a common ancestor that migrated from the mainland, hence their similarities; their differences were associated with the distinct adaptations that were developed in response to their new environments on their respective islands, particularly in order to exploit the different food sources provided.

Ultimately, over the course of many generations, such populations diverge to such an extreme degree that the macroevolution milestone is achieved and speciation occurs — which is to say they become not merely a unique population within the species, but a separate species altogether. Though Tab A might still fit into Slot B for some time, it will become increasingly difficult for the two species to produce healthy offspring that are capable of reproducing themselves. It is through this process, where small modifications in response to different or changing environments add up over inconceivably long periods of time, that the first form of life on the planet led to the diverse species that have come to inhabit the globe ever since.

Divergent evolution therefore explains the differences between closely-related species — as well as the similarities, of course, given the shared history. Such similarities are known as homologous similarities, as they were inherited through a common ancestor. This explains, for instance, the similarity in skeletal structures among mammals, even whales, who bear the skeletal structures of fingers in their flippers and two nostrils in their blowholes. It explains the coccyx, or remnants of a tail, among humans. As the tree of life diverges into different species, natural selection is rather economical in that it works off of its former successes with further adaptations rather than shaking the Etch-a-Sketch and starting over, tabula rasa style. So the process of divergent evolution is rather intuitive in that way.

The same is not at all true when it comes to convergent evolution, which is a bit more counterintuitive, even mysterious, at least on the surface. This occurs when the differences between two species make perfect sense given the degree of divergence from their last common ancestor, but their remarkable similarities in traits are astounding for the very same reason. In this case, such traits are said to have an analogous similarity, as they were developed independently. This of course makes one wonder how this could happen, and the answer seems to be that natural selection favors similar solutions to the same problems.

Species that live in similar environments will develop astoundingly similar body plans, for instance, particularly if they fulfill the same role in the same niche. Dolphins, sharks and ichthyosaurs all share the same, basic body plan characterized by a streamlined body, dorsal fins, flippers and a tail fluke despite the fact that they share no common ancestor from which they could have inherited such traits from. They developed them naturally and independently because they are all marine predators and these traits are perfect for maneuvering in a fluid environment. It is for this same reason that birds, bats and butterflies all independently evolved the similar trait of wings, which are clearly successful adaptations for maneuvering in the air, and why the legless, ground-welling and subterranean creatures known as worms and snakes themselves look so similar to one another. This also occurs at the level of body organs, such as the eye, which has developed several times independently. Ears and sonar have also independently evolved more than once. So though evolution by means of natural selection is by no means teleological, which is to say it does not deliberately aim towards a single, ideal form, even specific to environments, patterns do indeed emerge — common traits do develop between organisms separated by genetics, time and space.

In light of this fact, regardless as to whether panspermia is the process that spreads life out across the universe from a single genesis or life on earth and countless exoplanets had an independent genesises, we should expect there to be commonalities between life on earth and life out there. Or, at the very least, that makes sense to some of us. Others seem to find this notion distasteful, among them astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Dr. Jonathan Losos, a Harvard biologist. In a discussion between Tyson and and Richard Dawkins, Tyson brings up his disappointment with the humanoid body-plan of Hollywood aliens, calling it unimaginative and improbable — the same argument all too often used by those debunking the alien abduction phenomenon. Rather than agreeing with him, however, Dawkins kindly raises objections:

“Other worlds are going to be very different, but we perhaps shouldn’t write off the possibility that the Hollywood aliens… they might not be that unimaginative. I mean, my colleague Simon Conway Morris has even suggested that it’s very likely that there will be, if not humans, at least bipedal, big-brained, language-toting, hand-toting, forward-looking eyes for stereoscopy, pretty much humans. He thinks it’s highly likely. He’s got a religious agenda, I’m sorry to say, for that, but like him, I appreciate the power of natural selection.”

For anyone that became acquainted with the work of Dawkins through his outspoken atheism, it should be clear that his value in the perspective of Cambridge University paleontologist Simon Conway Morris in this particular matter had to be well-earned one. Even so, Dawkins never properly articulated the reasons behind the perspective of Morris or why, for that matter, he agreed with him, though Losos was a bit more clear in his reasoning against the general idea.

Alien life, argues Losos, may take many turns, and to support his argument he highlights what he called evolutionary singletons, which are species with what appear to be unique adaptations found nowhere else on earth. He fails to consider the possibility that his sample population is only planetary and may simply not be large enough to see how even the traits of these apparent singletons might be echoed throughout the cosmic community of life. So certainly they, like every other form of adaptation we find throughout the history of the earthen animal kingdom, exist, but so do those of the intelligent, humanoid, opposable-thumb variety. And while we seem to have the potential to eventually directly observe and interact with the variety of extrasolar life that surely exists out there is the vastness, we have yet to venture very far in our spacefaring journey, which leaves us with the question: what kind of extraterrestrial life may venture so far as to directly observe or interact with us?

There is good reason to suspect that in order for an advanced, extraterrestrial species to create a technology with which it might communicate with us or visit us it may require a humanoid body plan — or at least that it may be one of a limited number of body plans necessary to properly exploit intelligence.

Consider, for instance, the existence of an extraterrestrial species that is far older and more intelligent than the smartest human being that has ever lived, but that this intelligent mind evolved in a body akin to an octopus that is itself trapped in the depths of an ocean encapsulated by the surface ice of Europa. Despite its vast intelligence such a creature would have never seen what dry land is like, let alone the sky, and would be unable to so much as start a fire. Or consider that a creature such as a crow or an elephant that possessed such intelligence. Our earthly octopuses, crows and elephants are certainly intelligent creatures and they — and creatures of far lesser intelligence — have been seen to utilize sticks and other such things as simple tools, but how would they be capable, regardless of their intelligence, of developing high technology? Human beings were able to develop such technology due to the convergence of several necessary factors, with our intelligence being only one of them. In addition, we evolved in a manner that led to us to being bipedal, which freed up our “front legs” so that they could be used as arms, thereby enabling us to use our intelligence, via our opposable thumbs, to manipulate our environment in accordance with its desires, fashioning spears, steam engines, hydrogen bombs and spacecraft.

And what other variables might have had to have come into play, perhaps out of sheer chance, so as to enable us to develop technology sophisticated enough that we could potentially communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) and ultimately evolve from our status as a planetary species to become a stellar, and eventually interstellar, civilization? Fermi’s Paradox may be explained by an unimaginably thick buffer betwixt the emergence of simple, planetary life and a spacefaring civilization — a buffer composed of more layers of “filters” between than we could ever hope to imagine.

Clearly, we can’t be sure. But that a species would need sufficient intelligence that naturally evolved in a humanoid body would certainly seem to be a reasonable starting point. If such a humanoid ETI became interstellar, they would surely explore various planets and study all available forms of life, though their interest would become most acutely focused on those extraterrestrial species that shared important traits with them: sisters and brothers in cosmic, convergent evolution, as it were.

If we dare to adopt as a working hypothesis that the mass of reported alien encounters and alien abduction reflect happenings in objective actuality, subjecting the appearance and behavior of the most commonly-reported aliens, known as the Grays, to analysis with convergent evolution in mind might provide us some insights. We might be able to mentally reverse-engineer the environment in which they developed and even determine what kind of species they are — or are at least akin to from the vantage point of the earthbound life with which we are familiar.

Despite sharing the humanoid body plan with human beings, after all, the Gray aliens show no signs of being mammalian. They have no nipples or breasts, nor lips for suckling. They express no emotion on their faces. They have never been seen to sweat. They have no hair. If we scrutinize them closely enough and run through the natural “escalation of hypotheses” regarding their biological nature, we may arrive at the same suspicion that many abductees tend to share — namely, that these entities are insects, or at the very least insect-like.

Insects arrived on the Gaian scene far earlier than man, his simian ancestors, or even mammals. They first appeared some 500 million years ago, having evolved from crustaceans into one of the very first land-dwelling animals. As a whole, insects tend to mature and reproduce rather rapidly, and within a single insect’s lifetime it can often produce hundreds of offspring, and though many if not most of them die before reproducing, those that do survive and reproduce carry on their successful mutations. This increased genetic diversity means a greater likelihood of favorable mutations developing — genetic “errors” that enable them to adapt to and exploit a wide range of environments. As a consequence, they have spread out across the earth, rooting themselves in nearly every conceivable terrestrial habitat, some considerably extreme from the human perspective. They also have an increased probability of successfully adapting to changing conditions within their given environments, which would not only explain how they have managed to so swiftly evolve resistances to the insecticides we develop but how they managed to survive many of the extinction events that have plagued the earth since her birth. It should therefore not be surprising at all that they presently make up three quarters of all animals on earth: there are a million known species collectively composed of some 10 quintillion individuals.

Given a different planetary and historical context and sufficient time, it is not at all that difficult to see how a species of insect might have developed the intelligence, body-plan and will necessary to emerge as the dominant species, to take the global throne.

It can’t be ignored, of course, that there are also clear differences between the Grays and what little we know regarding our own, earthbound insects — but assuming they are indeed insects, should this be all that surprising? We evolved from apes, after all, and this does not suggest that an extraterrestrial exobiologist could come to a wholesome understanding of us by means of studying the apes or apelike parallels on their own planet. We became human when we evolved the newest part of our brains and began walking upright, and this made us quite distinct from other apes. Given different conditions on a different planet in another star system and enough time, it is not at all that great a leap to assume that at least one insect species might have developed the morphology, intelligence, technology and motive necessary to bring them to our pale, blue dot, where they could interact with members of our own species.

Unlike our earthen insect species, they are not characterized by six legs and antennae, they have no body hair, and their mouth doesn’t seem to operate for the purposes of either consumption or breathing — but there may be good reasons for this. They may not have evolved the capacity to taste or smell given the nature of their particular ecosystem, or perhaps different organs developed to serve those purposes — nostril holes may have developed for olfactory purposes instead of antennae, for instance. Some have hypothesized that the insects with which we are familiar have six legs because they are so small and move so quickly, whereas larger animals move more slowly and their nervous systems are more adept at maintaining balance with four legs or less. In that light, perhaps the Grays have two legs rather than six simply because they are larger. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, it may be due to the fact that they evolved on a planet with less gravity than the earth, which would reduce the balance issue regardless of size. Though not all earthbound insects have wings, most do, though such a low-gravity planet may have also reduced their necessity.

That they have binocular vision, which is to say that their eyes are positioned in front of their head rather than to either side, would seem to suggest they evolved from a predatory insect species. That their eyes are large and black may indicate that they need to pick up more light than we do, so they may live in an environment much darker than our own — a planet with thick cloud-cover, shorter daytime hours, that their planet resides farther from their star(s) or that their home star(s) are of a different type, that they are subterranean creatures, or perhaps only that they are a nocturnal. Alternatively, or perhaps additionally, their eyes may be so large simply because they are insects, which is to say because those eyes are compound eyes, enabling them to see a wider range of the light spectrum than we can.

These are so far only small matters in my mind, however. More broadly, my reasons for suspecting they are insects are threefold: first, they appear bear the three qualities of eusociality; second, it explains their physical form; third, it helps explain their psychology.

Ode to My Poopy Poetry.

Please note:
All my poetry

(subsequent to the mass
that has been written
here, in this blog,
over the enduring years,

at least
until I find
a relatively
easy way
to move all
my former poetry)

has been relegated
to another blog,

Flush of the Mindpot,

in the quite-fuckin’-likely feeble
attempt

to compartmentalize,
organize
and express
my messed-up head-space

in a more digestible
manner
to you
as well as

I.

Levin & the Gassy Bugs of Mars.

Mars has always held a certain fascination for me. Around five years of age the 1950s film, War of the Worlds, became my favorite. Eventually, I learned of the book that inspired it — and the radio broadcast by Orson Welles in 1938 that inspired panic in those who tuned in, assuming it to be a broadcast of actual events unfolding. In high school, when I began to pursue my interest in UFOs and all things paranormal, I learned that this incident, in tandem with a portion of the Brookings Report, may have helped to inspire the UFO cover-up.
It was the dawn of my senior year when my interest in Mars was once again reinforced, this time by the front page headlines in the early August newspaper and a speech given by then-president Bill Clinton. It dealt with the potential discovery of life — seeming microfossils of bacteria found in Martian meteorite ALH84001. Until the chorus of skepticism arose and talk of the meteorite burned up, I had cautious hopes that the government agencies that had been working so hard on the cover-up might finally be trying to slowly release information to the public. That naive hope ended almost as quickly as it began, however.

It would be some time before my interest in Mars met another resurgence. The plans Elon Musk has to colonize Mars through his company, SpaceX, and the discoveries made since the end of 90s eventually brought me to wonder far more broadly about the past, present and future of that distant, alien globe — and particularly whether life ever existed there and might even be thriving in some form today.

Mars, our neighboring red planet and the fourth cosmic island from our home star, is a terrestrial or “rocky” planet like our own earthen nest. Though less than half the size of earth, Mars presently provides the same amount of dry land as all our continents squished together yet offers only 38% of earth’s surface gravity. A Martian day is only about about 39 minutes longer than an Earth-day. A Martian year is equivalent to 687 earth-days, however, making the two planets closest in their orbits around the sun only once every 26 months or so, where they are about 35 million miles distant from one another.

Both Earth and Mars are thought to have formed around the same time, which is say 4.6 billion years ago. Early in its history, perhaps around 4.3 billion years ago, Mars had a molten core. Coupled with the spin of the planet, it generated a magnetosphere that protected Mars from solar winds and allowed a thick atmosphere to develop. The Martian soil would absorb gases from the atmosphere and active volcanoes delivered them back — a recycling process that kept the planet warm enough for liquid water to remain on the surface in the form of rivers, ponds, lakes, and a single, mile-deep ocean that covered half of the northern hemisphere.

Then, at a currently estimated 4.2 billion years ago, the molten Martian core began to gradually cool down, and as a consequence most of the magnetosphere was lost. Devoid of its protective field, it was left vulnerable to those solar winds, which slowly pissed away its atmosphere into the depths of the final frontier — a process that continues today. The atmosphere that remains is infested with fine-grain dust particles that give the sky an orange-red or brownish hue during the day and a blue color at dawn and dusk. It is composed of roughly 95% carbon dioxide and minute amounts of other gases such as nitrogen, argon, carbon monoxide, methane, oxygen and water vapor, together producing a slight greenhouse effect. Most of the surface water was vaporized and also piddled into space, but not all of it. Some of it froze and became trapped in the Martian soil, which is presently comprised of 60% water-ice, or manifests as frost during the Martian Winter. Sheets of ice also cover the bases of some craters and even more ice resides deeper underground, such as that which was detected beneath the grounds of Utopia Planitia.

There are also the ice caps which, when the time is right, aren’t quite as icy as we find them today. Mars has long-term wobble to its orbit so that every 5 million years or so its poles tilt 45 degrees toward the sun, causing the ice at the poles to melt. As some have pointed out, on Earth bacteria can be frozen for millions of years, essentially hibernating only to reemerge when the temperature rises again and conditions are favorable for life.

Then there is the liquid water, which persists on Mars even today. First identified by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2011 through photos captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, the seasonal dark streaks on Martian slopes (referred to as “recurring slope lineae” or RSL) were ultimately determined by NASA in 2015 to be salt deposits from occasional flows of briny water. Over three years later, in July of 2018, it was reported that the European Mars Express orbiter, through use of MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding), discovered a lake — also likely to be briny and chilled — some 12 miles across and at least three feet deep residing just shy of a mile beneath the southern polar ice cap.

Here on our pale blue dot we have extremophiles that reveal, as their name implies, how life can thrive in such extreme conditions; the same may be true for microbial life in the Martian underground or at the poles. This may even be the cause of the aforementioned methane gas in the Martian atmosphere, which must have a source that constantly replenishes it. It has been shown to spike seasonally, during the Martian summer, and appears associated with areas believed to be hiding ice below the surface.

Though debate still rages as to whether Mars was ever host to life, even in its ancient period of earth-like habitability, American engineer and Arizona State University professor Dr. Gilbert V. Levin insists we had evidence of extant microbial life there as early as 1976. As explained in multiple interviews and videos, Levin was a Sanitary Engineer for the Health Department in the 1950s and would test various water sources for contamination. He would take a sample, put it in a test tube with nutrients and incubate it at a high temperature for 1-3 days. If there were indeed microorganisms in the sample, they would feed on the nutrients and expel gas that would produce tiny bubbles that gave away their presence. The issue, as he saw it, was that it was a three-day affair to wait for those bubbles. He was sure there had to be a way to speed it up and eventually settled on coupling the nutrients with radioactive carbon-14 and replacing the time-consuming practice of bubble-gazing with the sensitivity of radiation detectors. After receiving the necessary funding, he found that his technique cut the test down to roughly an hour.

Ultimately he submitted a proposal to NASA, as he thought this would also prove to be an effective way to test Martian soil for extant microbial life. His test was ultimately funded, selected and improved upon. He also added a control. If the experiment produced a positive result, they would take a separate sample of the same soil and heat it to a degree that would kill any microorganisms but not destroy any chemicals that might produce a false positive. If the control produced a negative, that would imply that they had killed something and that the original experiment had not produced a false positive. In the end, it became known as the Labeled Release (LR) test — one of three used by the two Viking Landers in efforts to detect extraterrestrial microbial life.

In 1975, the twin orbiter/lander probes Viking 1 and Viking 2 were launched from earth. By the following year both took up orbit around Mars, photographed the surface and ultimately broke alien ground safely in the Chryse and Utopia regions, thousands of miles from one another. A long, robot arm extended from each probe, took a soil sample, and brought it into a sealed distribution box. From there it fed portions of the sample into three separate and sealed mini-labs, each specifically designed for the test in question. At both sites a drop of nutrients was squirted on a small amount of soil for the LR test — and radioactive gas was emitted for days. This was far longer, Levin stressed, than would be the case if the cause was a simple, lifeless chemical reaction. For the control, the probe then heated the soil for three hours at 160 degrees celsius, let it cool and then squirt it with radioactive nutrients again. There was no response at all.

As the test produced a positive result and the control a negative one at both sites, the agreed-upon criteria for life detection was technically satisfied. Despite this, NASA and many other scientists were reluctant to accept it. NASA thought that perhaps the ultraviolet light on Mars was much stronger than earth given the reduced atmospheric cocoon and that this accounted for the detected radioactivity of the soil sample. To test this hypothesis, Levin and his co-experimenter, Patricia Ann Strat, talked NASA into making the Viking arm move a rock at dawn and take a soil sample from beneath it. After all, that soil wouldn’t have seen the sun for perhaps millions of years, so this would put NASA’s explanation to the test. They did it. And NASA was wrong: the experiment still produced a positive result.

Ultimately, the original scientific control for the LR test was extended even further, and the results kept reinforcing the notion of Martian life. It was already established that the active ingredient stopped responding altogether when the soil was heated to 160 degrees, but they found that heating it to only 46 degrees produced a response — though one that was only 30% as high as the original experiment. At 51 degrees, it was only 10% as high. Levin hypothesized that these results could be explained by an increasing number of microorganisms being killed off as the heat climbed higher and higher. They also tried the LR on a soil sample that had been stored in the distribution box for two months at about 10 degrees. As would be expected if the positive response came from microorganisms, which would have been killed in such conditions, there was no response in this case.

Altogether, Levin states, they preformed nine experiments on Mars, all of them producing either positive test results or negative controls. In other words, all were consistent with the presence of life on Mars. Despite all this, NASA boldly announced that they had only found evidence of a dead, lifeless wasteland and rejected Levin’s proposals for improved experiments, including a new LR experiment testing for left-handedness and right-handedness of organisms.

Sir Charles Schultz III, author of A Fossil Hunter’s Guide to Mars, credits Levin with the discovery of Martian life but goes even further. He insists that more developed forms of life once lived there — and may still be getting by, even thriving. Through FOIA, he apparently obtained some 200 thousand images of Mars from NASA and, after studying them closely, concluded that they depict evidence suggesting the recent presence of water as well as sea shells and marine fossils such as trilobites. Though NASA allegedly showed some early indications of sincere interest in his work, they have since come to cold shoulder him.

Is NASA ignoring or even covering up the existence of Martian life? In either case, one can’t help but wonder why they would do such a thing.

“The failure to pursue NASA’s highest priority (the search for life in the solar system), and the goal NASA once described as ‘probably the greatest experiment in the history of science,’ cannot be logically explained,” Levin said. “It results from NASA’s fear of finding out that its original conclusion about Viking was wrong, supplemented by philosophical and religious elements who insist, for non-scientific reasons, there can be no life elsewhere but Earth.”

Levin was speaking of microbial life in this case, of course, and seems understandably perplexed and frustrated at NASA’s reluctance to accept the results of decades-old experiments. He stops short of crying conspiracy. Schultz believes there is a cover-up, though also maintains that NASA is releasing the information in bite-size portions over time, leaky embargo style.

Given they know something and have elected to keep it silent, I’m not at all confident that they will ever blow the lid off of it, gradually or otherwise, until they have no other choice but to do so. Nothing and no one seems to be forcing their hand at present, but that time may come once Musk puts his plans to build a Martian colony into action.

Spacetime & Alien Vibrations.

Age circa six.
Playing Space Invaders.
Blind to the significance.

Carried along by my river.
Dumb to its alien process.

Up above, all around,
the gears are turning,
moved by hands

governed
and fingers slaves

to strings
inside

pulled by puppeteers
from out there,
up in the sky.

Yes,
they are here, unseen
and more than merely
observing.

If I knew
what I know,
what would I do?

Close and latch
the windows,
draw the blinds?

Lock and bolt
the door, go to bed

with a gun,
one eye open,
and only with the lights on?

No psychic
or material
boundary
is shield
enough. No armour.

No cocoon
of suffocient
strength.

One mind
can’t take this impact,

at least not
all at once,

and the resulting
dysfunctions
don’t ripple

out to the lake’s edges
in a day. Pluck

a strand
and embrace patience
as you wait

for the whole web
to vibrate.

So FN Hypersensitive.

My insanity,
it just might be
that it is an effect

as opposed
to a cause

of this surreal
circumstance.

Keep that in mind.

I know those infinitely
more stable
than I, psychologically
and otherwise,

who have seen a vast
array

of things that should not
be, many experiences
which are far

more than merely vaguely
reminiscent
of the weird shit
I’ve seen, all the strange

that has inundated
and saturated
me. The only difference

might very well be

that they were merely fortunate
enough not

to be so
fucking
hypersensitive.

End: Transmission.

With every panicked
breath

its micro-inching closer,
closing in on
the psychic skin

behind this bald,
self-domesticated,
tool-wielding simian

mask and costume,
threatening to strip away
this false epidermis
and facade
of doom

to reveal a curious child
caught up
in an elaborate play
nonetheless important

to subject
to analysis and research,

experiment and exploration,
digestion and expression,

then provide
for consumption.

End: transmission.

Plaything of a Higher Intelligence.

So sorry, boy,
but you must’ve mistaken
this universe

for a world in which things
make sense.

If you wanted it all to add
up to coherence,
if you held your breath
white-knuckled hope
for answers,

all my sources say
you came to the wrong
fucking place.

Logic is not
the dictating force
here, or so

experience would indicate,
and if it does,
it’s a far

more advanced flavor,
one that clearly
rests
within the headspace

of a far higher intelligence
that seems
to be using the ant farm
we call home
as its own plaything,

a tool to amuse
its twisted, malicious,
extradimensional mind.

You should know,
you’ve lived all the red flags.

You’re the product of all
its conceivable signs.