Thank you for the explanation regarding silicon, Athena! Makes perfect sense. Makes me also imagine an alternate universe in which flourine is abundant and carbon or H2O are not. What would such a universe be like where the life might be predominantly silicon-based because the laws of nature lean in that direction?
Regarding the Xindi and intellegence here on earth in dolphins or elephants, that's a great example of another variable that must be "right" in order for a lifeform to emerge with the ability to manipulate its environment. It has certainly always appeared to me that dolphins do possess higher intelligence, but in their form they cannot manipulate the environment and resources of the planet to achieve the things that humans have. So there is yet another obstacle to the rise of intelligence with the means to communicate over interstellar distances or even passively broadcast its presence.
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