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The Cosmic Zoo

Complex Life on Many Worlds

Are humans a galactic oddity, or will complex life with human abilities develop on planets with environments that remain habitable for long enough?

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Dirk Schulze-Makuch is a professor for planetary habitability and astrobiology at the Technical University Berlin, Germany, and also an adjunct professor at Washington State University and Arizona State University. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and worked afterward as senior project hydrologist at Envirogen, Inc. Dirk continued his academic career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. During that time he was also a faculty fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In 2004 he took a faculty position, first as an associate professor, then as a full professor at Washington State University.  Dirk received the Friedrich-Wilhelm Bessel Award from the Humboldt Foundation for extraordinary achievements in theoretical biology in 2011.  Since 2013 Dirk is a professor at the Technical University Berlin, where he leads the Astrobiology Research Group. He published in the greater research field of habitability and astrobiology nearly 200 scientific articles and also 9 books, the latest being The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds and the 3rd edition of Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints.

my Smithsonian Blogs on Life beyond EaRTH

My Books

Web of Lies


The Case (or Not) for Life in the Venusian Clouds

March, 2021

In Search for a Planet Better than Earth: Today's Top Contenders for a Superhabitable Planet

December, 2020

Methanogenic Archaea Can Produce Methane in Deliquescence-Driven Mars Analog Environments

January, 2020

The Physical, Chemical and Physiological Limits of Life

July, 2015

The Adaptability of Life on Earth and the Diversity of Planetary Habitats

October, 2017

We Should Search for Extant Life on Mars in this Decade

May, 2021

The Astrobiology of Alien Worlds: Known and Unknown Forms of Life

August, 2020

The Naked Mole-Rat: An Unusual Organism with an Unexpected Latent Potential for Increased Intelligence?

September, 2019

Searching for Life on Mars Before It's Too Late

October, 2017

Transitory microbial habitat in the hyperarid
Atacama Desert

January, 2018

Microbial Hotspots in Lithic Microhabitats Inferred from DNA Fractionation and Metagenomics in the Atacama Desert

May, 2021

A New Record for Microbial Perchlorate Tolerance:
Fungal Growth in NaClO4 Brines and its Implications
for Putative Life on Mars

April, 2020

A Chemical and Microbial Characterization of Selected Mud Volcanoes in Trinidad Reveals Pathogens Introduced by Surface Water and Rain Water

January, 2020

Pavilion Lake Microbialites: Morphological, Molecular and
Biochemical Evidence for a Cold-Water Transition to Colonial

March, 2013

Was There an Early Habitability Window for Earth’s Moon?

August, 2018

Recommended Reads


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