Wednesday 21 September 2022

What is Har Deshur?

Even though it has been going on for almost two months, I only now realized that I have not yet written a formal introduction for my newest project as I did with Rhynia. So, here it is.

As you have surely noticed, Mars and astrobiology are a special interest of mine. For a few years now I have been working on a fictional paleontology textbook from the future about fossil life found on the red planet. After recently reworking the concept, and also losing fun with working on Rhynia, I realized I could already show off some of the creature concepts as an online speculative evolution project, though in a slightly different context.

The result is Har Deshur

Named after Mars’ designation in Egyptian mythology, it is the first (public) speculative evolution project written and illustrated wholly by me. Instead of dealing merely with fossil forms, it takes place in an alternate world where Mars has stayed slightly more habitable until modern day and human explorers are making contact with the native wildlife. The keyword here is slightly, as this fictional Mars is not that much removed from the real deal. While air pressure, atmospheric make-up and temperature have been adjusted to make macroscopic life on the surface possible, the majority of the planet is still a harsh, cold desert, plagued by global dust storms. Here you will not find any civilizations or giganticbeasts, animals and plants will stay small, simple and adapted for extreme conditions.

Most of the metrics of this fictional Mars (down to the global temperature map) I did not pull out of thin air, but instead strongly based off real computer model studies about the Red Planet in its prehistory (Ramirez 2017 & Palumbo et al. 2018). Another source was outdated studies about current Mars from the 1950s and 60s (Salisbury 1962) and even older stuff from Percival Lowell and H.G. Wells (both 1908). Some data, such as the topography, seasons and the meteorology of the dust storms, is also taken directly from current sources on real life Mars (Forget 2006 & Sparrow 2014).

Apart from providing some of the science, the time period of the 50s/60s is also the main inspiration in style and tone, the goal being to recapture the charm of programs like Disney’s Mars and Beyond or Carl Sagan’s wishful thinking after the Mariner missions, trying to present a Mars that is inhospitable, but still interesting for a zoologist.

Some creatures you might recognize if you have read my infamous post on brachiopods, as the aliens featured at the end of that article are directly related to what you will find on Mars (though they are of an earlier iteration). The alien mummy “Ted” on the Rhynia was also meant to be a nod to this universe here but will unfortunately be retconned soon by Bob Guan (his loss). And do you remember the big article I wrote on Charnia and Ediacaran life and ever wondered where part 2 is? That one never manifested, because the communal spec-evo project I originally wrote that “intro” for never went anywhere BUT the concepts I have come up with I have been able to reuse for Har Deshur (this is not pure recycling to be clear, the original book draft already had Ediacaran-style organisms but they were not well thought-out and this was a good opportunity to rework them).

I hope you have fun reading through this new Mars and staying updated. The goal for now is to equip each of the planet’s biomes with a full ecosystem and then look where things might be expanded from there (if there even needs to be expansion). I have also toyed with the idea of using this second site as a more regular blog to write about the history of astronomy and astrobiology (or maybe even science news). The first post on the site is already such a non-fiction article about past visions people had about life on Mars and I have also written one or two astrobiology-themed posts on this site here, which I always felt did not quite match the rest of the blog. Let me know if you would like to read more non-fiction stuff about space.

 Now that every has been said, here's the plan: Get your ass to Mars!

Related Posts:


  • Forget, François; Costard, François; Lognonné, Philippe: Planet Mars. Story of Another World, Paris 2006.
  • Lowell, Percival: Mars as the abode of life, Flagstaff 1908.
  • Palumbo, Ashley & Head, James: Early Mars Climate History. Characterizing a “Warm and Wet” Martian Climate with a 3-D Global Climate Model and Testing Geological Predications, in: Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 2018, p. 10249 -10258.
  • Ramirez, Ramses Mario: A warmer and wetter solution for early Mars and the challenges with transient warming, in: Icarus, 297, 2017, p. 71 – 82.
  • Salisbury, Frank: Martian Biology. Accumulating evidence favors the theory of life on Mars, but we can expect surprises, in: Science, 136, 1962, p. 17 – 26.
  • Sparrow, Giles: Mars, London 2014.
  • Wells, Herbert George: The things which live on Mars, in: Cosmopolitan Magazine, 44, March 1908, p. 334 – 342


  1. Speaking of Darwin IV, are you going to write any more on that topic?

    1. I do still want to write part 3, but then probably on the new site