New Planet Concept Picture

I've recently been entertaining the idea of developing another fictional planet with alien life forms. Most of the physical details of the planet are yet to be pinned down, but my plan so far is for it to be 5,858 miles in diameter (intermediate in size between the Earth and Mars) and have an atmospheric pressure about 30% that of Earth's. It is a mostly frozen world, with characteristics that combine those of Mars and Europa. The oceans are covered by a layer of ice that is miles in thickness, with the subsurface water being kept in a liquid state through a combination of dissolved salts and geothermal activity.

This is a dying world, with a biodiversity only a fraction of what it was 100 million years ago. Since this planet is much smaller than Earth, its internal structure has cooled off more quickly and volcanic activity has weakened significantly. This, in turn, has caused its magnetic field to wane and its atmosphere to thin. Nevertheless, tidal forces exerted by its largest satellite have generated a sufficient degree of internal heat to keep the black smokers on the sea floor active enough to feed the local ecosystems (with are chemosynthetic).

As a departure from most science fiction, the intelligent denizens of this planet are not some space-faring civilization more advanced than humans, but are rather relegated to the sea floor strata as fossils from long ago. They have been extinct for millions of years, and its up to exo-paleontologists and astrobiologists to reimagine what they were like in life. How advanced did they become? Did they have a language or culture? Did they even know that there were stars and other planets up there above the ice-covered sea? So far, I do have some ideas for the design of these creatures, but haven't settled on anything final yet. I do, however, plan to have them use a forked tail that is curled under their bodies as their main means of manipulating their environment. They will also likely have an internal shell (somewhat like squids) which protects their internal organs.

I'm a bit conflicted about what to name this planet and what to name the species on it. Inventing purely fictional names like "Zargov" or something sounds unrealistic if we're pretending that this is a real planet that future astronomers have discovered and named. The thing is, there are a lot of planets out there and the current trend of sticking with mythological figures or locations of great importance may well fall short of meeting the goal. Numerical designations are likely but are also boring. Since we are assuming that astronauts are actually regularly visiting this planet, there is definitely going to be a strong temptation to give it a formal name that is easy to pronounce and remember. That's just how humans are. Of course, if humans have the technology to explore worlds like this then this is most likely in the far future hundreds of years from now. How would our language have evolved by then? Would we even use the same words and names as we do now? At the moment, I'm currently favoring the idea of future astronomers being given the room to name planets after common names. That being said, I'm tempted to call this planet "Isaac" after Isaac Newton. Given the sheer number of planets, there would probably be many Isaacs, so it'd probably be something like, say, "326 Isaac" to denote that it is the 326th planet to be named Isaac. Does that make sense?

Likewise, using scientific names for the species on alien planets would probably become unwieldy as well: there are only so many ways that you can combine Latin and Greek roots to create new words. Is there a better way to name aliens? A numerical system might become inevitable for the sake of cataloging biodiversity. For example, we currently classify organisms by domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species. Instead of using names, one could use numbers. The very first life form discovered on an alien planet would be in the first domain, first kingdom, first phylum, first class, first order, first family, first genus and first species discovered on that planet. This could be written as The second species to be discovered in that particular species's genus would be, and so on. I have also seen "biome" proposed as a taxonomic rank as well, denoting the entirety of life on a particular planet. So all Earth life would constitute a biome, and all Mars life (if there is any) would constitute a different biome. This could be added to system so that there are 9 numbers instead of 8. Subfamilies and subspecies might be denoted with parentheses following the family and species number (such as Alternatively, the first letter of each taxonomic rank could be used to make it easier to discern which number means what (such as B3D3K6P3C45O93F16(3)G121S39(9). These, of course, are also unwieldy and would probably have to be kept up with by a computer database. The fact of the matter is that alien life forms would probably end up being given nicknames that are easier to remember. Perhaps that's what I'll go with.

Any thoughts?
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