The Incredible World of the Birrin | Part IMay 01, 2023
Somewhere in the vast unknown space, alien life may be waiting for us. But these beings, even if they're carbon-based like we are, probably won't be the familiar humanoids present in many stories, but rather organisms that are actually, well, aliens. The surreal designs you see before you are the work of Alex Ries: an artist who strives to imagine aliens with genuinely unique appearances. He also worked behind the scenes on the various aliens in the video game Subnautica. Alex Ries is an amazing artist and
worldbuilder, and I have links to where you can follow and support him in the description of this video.
And Alex Ries'
world-building masterpiece is his 'Project Birrin', a saga exploring the world of an intelligent species called the Birrin. So much of this world has been fleshed out, from geography to history to biology to culture, and it's all so inventive and so detailed that it'll be a challenge to explore it all in one video. So, I'll split this file entry into two full
parts, and this
partwill cover the early stages of the Birrin civilization. So, let's get started and begin our deep dive into an amazing alien world. The saga takes place on the planet Chriirah.
The planet is similar to Earth in size and density, and has a similar gaseous mixture in the atmosphere. The planet Chriirah is more oceanic than our world, however, with a higher relative ratio of water to land mass. The planet is orbited by Kah-irah, a moon very similar to the one that revolves around the earth. The planet Chriirah is also orbited by a smaller, male stellar object that is essentially an asteroid caught in the gravitational pull of the planet's moon. Alex Reis imagines Chriirah as a dry greenhouse, much warmer around the world than average temperatures on Earth.
Those red spots on the planet may look like harsh environments, that color actually comes from this world's equivalent of plant life, just like our green plants change the appearance of earth when viewed from space. The predominantly red plants suggest that the star it orbits emits more green and blue light than our own, and the plants have adapted colors to better absorb that light. The planet's temperature also means it lacks polar caps like those on Earth. This has a strong effect on the Jetstream and ocean currents on the planet. Our storms are small compared to the storm surges that occur in Chriirah, which is frequently devastated by tsunamis and tropical cyclones.
If you look closely at the map, you'll see that all the landmasses, oceans, and even the smallest geographic features have their own individual names—an astonishing level of detailed world-building. Due to Birrin's activity, much of the planet's mid-region eventually turns into a superheated wasteland... although we'll talk more about this disaster later in the video. For now, let's look at the
birrinthemselves and how they first evolved. Alex Ries discusses how long-extinct basket worms are an early predecessor of the
birrin, presenting a primitive version of their four-lobed mouth and simple eyes that eventually developed into the birrin's complex stalks.
An impressive level of world building. And modern Birrin bodies are incredibly complicated. The biology of the species is so different from our own that it can be difficult to tell at a glance where a Birrin begins and ends. Birrin are hexapods, or six-limbed species: four limbs used for movement and two for manipulation. In size, they are roughly comparable to deer, although their brain capacity is analogous to that of a human. Here you can see more details of the Birrin head. Birrin has four eyes at the end of the stalks, allowing them to perceive four distinct visual fields.
Birrin can also retract his eyestalks to protect himself while under threat. You can also see Birrin breathing mainly through openings near its eyes called spiracles, which is analogous to the openings that lead into the respiratory system of terrestrial organisms like manta rays. Birrin's mouths are also quite impressive to the naked eye: they have four 'lobes' like all quadrilaterals on the planet, and a menacing internal beak-like structure that suits their carnivorous diet. Birrin also has body parts called "wings", though they are not intended for flight, but are specialized organs for shedding heat and communicating with each other.
Going into greater detail with Birrin biology, Alex Ries has even mapped out how Birrins run, with a full cycle showing the biomechanics of their locomotion. As a side note, this image reminds me of the famous 19th century photo series "The Moving Horse". Here, we also see Birrin babies, which are small and covered in a layer of fluff like newborn birds. Unlike baby birds, however, this fluff will never develop into feathers. Instead, the baby Birrin's short hair is to protect it from parasites in the tropical climate where its species evolved. Plate-like growths around the base of each eye stalk serve a similar protective purpose.
While these adaptations aren't as useful after the Birrin became industrialized, they were vital when the Birrin, which are an egg-laying species, lived in vulnerable nesting units before the dawn of civilization. The dynamics of Birrin prehistoric social groups were highly complex, and something Alex Ries breaks down in several infographics. inventive things. Beyond Birrin, there is an entire ecosystem of unique life forms that have evolved alongside them. Most of the complex life forms on the planet Chriirah have a similar four-sided mouth and eye structure due to the widespread success of early species such as basket worms. The Wavedancer is a medium-sized flying predator not unlike a bird on Earth.
The species hunts by gliding over the water in search of prey with its lower eyes, then darts up and plunges rapidly into the water to catch aquatic animals: a strategy similar to that of some seabirds on our planet. Beneath the waves, various organisms swarm, including the enormous Sardu, dolphin-like creatures that can stun their prey with powerful electrical discharges from organs housed in their elongated, horizontal jaws. Aside from these giants of the sea, in deeper waters lurks the Cloakmouth, a terrifying predator from the depths of Chriirah's oceans. This species lures its prey with the luminescent lure in the center of its mouth, then grabs it with its massive jaws.
Another terrifying animal found within the oceans of Planet Chriirah is the reef horn worm, a marine predator that lurks within marine debris while waiting for its prey, then pounces and attacks the unfortunate victim, pulling it into its massive jaws. . It's certainly not a species you'd want to find. On land, a predator that evolved from the same stock as the Birrin is the Pseudoraptor, a species that lives on arid plains and strikes down grazing creatures by clinging to their pelts with those deadly curved claws at the tips of its four arms. Another intimidating species. And finally, there are also the giants: a second intelligent species on the planet Chriirah, who are distant relatives of the smaller and more intelligent Birrin.
The Giant's intelligence is somewhere between that of a parrot (which, for the record, is pretty smart) and that of a human. In size, Giants are close to a terrestrial Hadrosaurus in overall volume. While you can probably imagine that the two species have long and often complicated histories, giants are relatively peaceful and mostly prefer to be left alone. Here, Alex Ries imagines a young Birrin watching a giant: holding his wings against his body in astonishment, and the giant seems to accept this gesture of goodwill. As the dominant species on the planet Chriirah, the Birrin have a long and detailed history.
These ruins of an ancient gate represent the heyday of the pre-industrial Birrin civilization. The massive twin statues display the might of a Birrin empire now lost to time. As time passed, the Birrin culture would become more complex. Here's a picture of Birrin from the South Chey Nations in a soothing inner sanctum, with the walls painted a calming blue to create an air of tranquility. In particular, I really like the seats present in this image, as they are well suited for the comfort of something shaped like a Birrin. Eventually, the Birrin society would industrialize, learning that the masses of dead plants that make up the floating forest coastal regions of the planet could be turned into fuel.
The birrin used this fuel to power sea-going vessels like the one you see here, designed to traverse the vegetation layer of the floating forest. And just like our own history, as the Birrin civilization becomes more complex and modern, crises and clashes arise between different groups. Here, a group of displaced Birrin fight against the armored warrior Birrin, forcing them to leave the region where they live. Beyond the suffering on the ground, however, at the height of the first era of Birrin technological complexity, the species created this unique ship, called "the Spear", to venture beyond their solar system.
incredibleand complex machine took half a century to complete. However, as the spear floated between the outer planets, back on Chriirah, the Birrin civilization was collapsing. Already hotter than Earth before Birrin became industrialized, Chriirah is eventually pushed to the brink of an apocalyptic collapse called "The Fall". Much of the planet became too hot to inhabit, with the region in red, called "the Furnace", becoming an impassable barrier. In this new world, technology is forgotten by the surviving populations of northern and southern Birrin: who are completely cut off from each other. Great ships rust in the dry seas within the Furnace, leaving a desolate and ruined landscape.
At this point, it was unclear if Birrin would ever recover... And that's all we have time for in this video, although I'll be back with a Part II on the Birrin civilization after 'The Fall'. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out more of Birrin on Alex Ries' excellent work. Again, the links are in the description. Alex Ries also plans to release a whole book on this amazing world in the future, so stay tuned! Also, thanks for looking. If you enjoyed this post, please lend your support and like, subscribe, and hit the notification icon to stay up to date on all things Curious.
See you in the next video.
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