If we ever do find alien life, we may also discover their viruses – or at least that’s what one scientist has claimed. Professor Paul Davies, who is an astrobiologist, cosmologist and director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University, stated that viruses might be an important factor in the ecosystems on other planets.
Alien life on other planets doesn’t necessarily mean an advanced civilization of humanoids with a large head and bulging eyes – although that’s a possibility as well – but they could also be microbes and that’s where the theory of viruses comes from as explained by Davies, “Viruses actually form part of the web of life.” “I would expect that if you’ve got microbial life on another planet, you’re bound to have – if it’s going to be sustainable and sustained – the full complexity and robustness that will go with being able to exchange genetic information.”
He went on to say that if there is cellular life on other planets, the viruses would be able to move genetic information from one to the others. Additionally, there would probably be an entire ecosystem of microbes instead of just one specific type.
But there’s no need to hide just yet as Davies stated that if there are viruses on other planets, humans here on Earth have nothing to fear. “The dangerous viruses are those that are very closely adapted to their hosts,” he explained. “If there is a truly alien virus, then chances are it wouldn’t be remotely dangerous.” To be more specific, the virus would be more harmful to anything alive on the alien planet rather than being dangerous to Earthlings. This is because the virus wouldn’t have had a chance to infect humans, evolve, and spread. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that very comforting or reassuring.
This would certainly be a factor if humans were to colonize another planet, but Davies has claimed that the majority of viruses are good. “I think without viruses, there may be no sustained life on planet Earth.” Really? COVID-19 is caused by a virus and it has already claimed more than 4.5 million lives. This is certainly one virus we could live without.
If there are aliens viruses out in space somewhere, let’s hope they don’t find their way here.