The Alien (Xenomorph)
The following is a highly speculative theory
regarding the evolutionary history of the alien creatures and
their natural hosts, as well as the nature and conditions of
the alien homeworld. These speculations are based on the following
assumptions; that the alien evolved on a planet and was not created
de novo by another species in its current form, that the alien
and its homeworld have been shaped by physical and evolutionary
forces which are similar to those in effect on our own world,
that the alien is not the dominant life form on its homeworld,
existing instead as part of a complex ecosystem, and that the
homeworld is as diverse with life forms and potential habitats
as is our own. The information used as a basis for this speculation
comes solely from the ALIEN, ALIENS and ALIEN3 films.
Important common features of aliens taken
from the 3 films:
- Host dependent reproduction
- Dual stage metamorphic life cycle
- Metallo-silicate exoskeleton
- Endoskeleton in juvenile form
- Growth-stage mediated shedding of skin
- Low pH blood
- Increased speed & strength (relative
to human standards)
- Large curving crania of varying morphology
- Internal mouthed tongue
- Carnivorous external teeth
- Air sac bellows in the juvenile form
- Articulated limbs and tail in all life stages
- Varying number of limbs and digits in different
- Predatory or greater intelligence
- Copious production of "slime"
Presumed common features observed in some
subset of the films:
- Presumed sociality and communication (i.e.,
the hive was not a fluke)
- Internal pressure greater than 14 psi
- Body temperature equals ambient temperature
- Can "breathe" underwater
- Nest built in hot area
Some or all of these features may be due to
the adaptation/modification of the organism to its current lifestyle
as a space faring parasitic species. In the case of modification,
it would be most parsimonious to assume that the aliens were
intended for use as biological weapons. This theory assumes that
the creatures found in space are adapted or modified to living
in this habitat, and focuses on estimating their possible ancestral
forms and the state of the ancestral homeworld. It assumes that
any modifications and adaptations have been made using pre-existing
characteristics, so that the ancestral creatures posses similar
characteristics. The creatures found in space are referred to
as "modern" in the following discussion.
To avoid confusion between discussions of
various theorized species and their respective life cycles, the
life stages have been specified as follows:
 Egg released from queen. (maturation phase - this period
might occur in "utero")
 Egg matures. (dormant phase - length of this phase is indefinite,
until Host signals are detected)
 Egg releases crawler, follows host signals, secures breathing
orifice. (implantation phase - 24 hours)
 Crawler implants embryo in host breathing system and dies.
(gestation phase - 1 to 10 days)
 Chestbuster emerges from host.
 Chestbuster stage undergoes a series of instar-like transformations
until the imago is achieved.
 Queen-imago creates egg.
The life stages encompassing the egg and crawler are referred
to as JUVENILE, and those encompassing the chestburster and imagoes
are referred to as ADULT.
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Eggs are initially created inside
a queen alien and enter the world (after being queued in her
extended abdomen) via slimey tube to stand on their own (indicating
that there is a definite "up" side and "down"
side to the egg). The egg itself is a leathery object "...it's
full of leathery objects; like eggs or something..." Kane
(Alien), translucent and approximately 2.5 feet tall. According
to a scene that was cut from ALIEN these eggs could also be "constructed"
by a regular alien "infecting" an organism (which would
undergo some sort of metamorphosis) however, this concept was
not supported (nor denied) in ALIENS and ALIEN3. It is important
to note that this method was the originally intended method of
the designer of the Alien, H.R. Giger.
ALIEN3 eggs - the egg in ALIEN3 was smaller than we had previously
seen and it was more bulbous.
Hibernating inside one of these eggs
is a parasite, commonly referred to as a face-hugger. When a
viable host is brought near a closed egg (either by curiosity,
or being cocooned and held in place) it triggers the "contents"
of the egg to come to life. The egg opens and the face-hugger
launches out at the organism and attaches itself by wrapping
a long "tail" around its victim's neck and using long
spider-like legs (like a spider, the face-hugger has 8 legs)
to firmly grip the organisms head. The face-hugger controls the
amount of oxygen its host receives and puts the victim in a comatose
state while it reaches down the host's throat and lays an egg.
In order to ensure that the job can be completed with little
outside interference, the face-hugger has concentrated acid for
"blood" (a possible self defence mechanism) and can
strangle its host with its tail "...it's not coming off
without tearing his face off with it." Dallas (Alien).
After the egg is planted in the victim's body, the face-hugger
leaves the host (who will soon re-gain consciousness and have
no recollection of the implantation) and dies. "...he's
got an outer layer of protein poly-saccarides, has a funny habit
of shedding his cells and replacing them with polarized silicon
which gives him a longer resistance to adverse environmental
conditions." Ash (Alien).
The alien begins its life by bursting
from the chest of its host. At this stage in its development
it has a small cranium, tan-colored skin and is susceptable to
ALIENS chestburster - Unlike the one in ALIEN this chestburster
ALIEN3 chestburster - This chestburster was
different from the ones in ALIEN and ALIENS; it was more "mature
looking" immediately after its birth. Specifically, unlike
the chestbursters of the previous movies, this one had legs.
As the chest-burster matures, it sheds
its skin (similar to a snake), its cranium becomes elongated
and it has a hard, dark (black/green) outer shell (exo-skeleton).
The mature alien has concentrated acid for "blood"
and a higher tolerance to fire. As indicated in ALIENS the alien
creature does not "show up" on infra-red scanners which
would indicate that it does not emit heat. One distinguishing
feature of the alien is that it has two mouths, one inside the
other. According to H.R. Giger, the inner mouth is in fact the
alien's "tongue" (it is such a vicious creature that
even its tongue is dangerous). Another interesting feature of
the alien is that it does not have (what we would perceive to
ALIENS alien - these aliens only had 3 fingers as opposed to
the 6 fingered creature in ALIEN. Aliens in this movie had a
"ribbed" cranium unlike the smooth cranium of ALIEN.
ALIEN3 alien - This alien is different than the previous ones
we've seen; it tends to move around on all fours at times and
ensures that the unborn queen alien is kept safe. It's possible
that the aliens copy some of their host's DNA in order to help
them adapt to the new environement that they'll be born to (this
concept was in an old draft of the script for ALIEN), so this
alien would be different because it came from a dog. Also, we
have seen relatively few aliens. If you imagine what a whole
planet full of them would be like, there might be a variety of
different kinds: warriors, workers, messengers, etc...
ALIEN RESURRECTION alien - These aliens have a darker appearance.
They definately have a high form of communication which is best
seen when the three aliens talk to each other in the cage in
which they are locked up. In this scene we also find out that
aliens do have the intelligence to sacrifice one of them to open
up doors that would otherwise be kept shut. They also are seen
swimming. Their agility under water is higly evolved. They are
also portrayed as highly intelligent strategic planning creatures:
they form alien egg-filled traps for humans. They also don't
need the queen alien that much to figure out what to do, as in
ALIENS. These aliens are far more smart than in the previous
ALIENS Alien Queen - little is known
about her. From ALIEN3 we know that a queen alien can be born
in the same way as a regular alien. Some things that we do know
about the queen: she has a much larger cranium than the usual
alien and is slightly taller (approx 2-3 feet). The queen has
the ability to create and lay eggs (through the use of the extended
abdomen) and she has the ability to survive without the extended
abdomen (for an unknown amount of time).
ALIEN RESURRECTION Alien Queen - This queen has the ability to
procreate with a womb instead of an abdomen. It also created
a nest which is less resin-like and more flesh-like. The womb
opens up with a slit which runs all over the 'stomach'. The alien
that emerges is full-grown and is largely human. The queen also
seems to be more attached to the womb than the one in ALIENS,
and is slightly deformed. Her arms are shorter and stick backwards
from the first joint. The nest she makes also does not need humans
like in ALIENS. In this movie the facehuggers are there to create
drones for the nest, but the true birthing takes place in the
womb. The queen does not seem to be able to create eggs anymore.
ALIEN RESURRECTION alien child - In
the last movie we get to see that the alien species can mix its
appearance with the appearance of humans and vice versa. The
alien queen is able to retrieve information from the body of
the Ripley-clone. It grows a womb, in which a new alien grows
which is part alien and part human. It seems most of it is human,
due to the appearance of the creature and the urge it has to
see Ripley as its mother and not the creature that gave birth
to it: the new alien queen.
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(assuming that the aliens are not entirely
The homeworld has a higher atmospheric pressure and possibly
a greater gravity than terrestrial standards. It has oceans which
are of a very low pH and most likely an atmosphere of similar
low pH. The EM spectrum incident upon the homeworld is significantly
different from terrestrial standards, lacking "visible"
wavelengths. This might indicate that the planet's orbit is very
large, that it is extremely overcast or that it orbits a weak
sun. In this case, the ecosystem might be based on geochemical
and geothermal systems. Geothermal activity might also provide
a relatively high ambient temperature. The acidic nature of the
aquatic and atmospheric environments might also be due to extensive
production of hydrogen sulfide and other "high energy"
compounds via geochemical activity. A high level of volcanic
and tectonic activity might be maintained by tidal forces stemming
from planetary and stellar bodies in the system.
An ecosystem not based on photosynthesis would require radically
different energy production schemes. Such an ecosystem might
be founded on thermo- and acidophilic microorganisms. Larger
autotrophs might incorporate endosymbiotic versions of these
microorganisms. Vegetative "plants" would be found
around areas of geothermal and geochemical activity, both on
the surface and on the floor of the oceans. Other organisms might
exploit the difference in pH and temperature at the boundary
between aquatic and terrestrial environments. If volcanic activity
were responsible for the overcast nature of the atmosphere, incident
light might be used by photosynthetic organisms high in the atmosphere.
Thermophilic photosynthesizing organisms might also be found
near lava flows. Areas free of volcanic activity would be dead
zones, possibly inhabited by hibernating organisms awaiting an
increase in ocean level or the occasional lost creature.
Extensive tectonic and volcanic activity might result in habitats
subject to frequent change. A geothermal habitat might be replaced
by a geochemical or volcanic habitat, or might be flooded. If
this were the case, organisms would have to be either extremely
adaptive or mobile in order to survive.
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Variation in the surface morphology of the
head seems to indicate a sensory function. Lone adults have uniform
smooth reflective heads, while adults functioning in a nest have
distinct anterior and posterior head sections; the posterior
region being covered in a ribbed pattern with a sagittal crest,
and the anterior region being characteristically smooth with
a pair of pits on either side of the head. This morphology in
social organisms may be used in sonic and chemical communication.
That this ribbed pattern is visible in the neck regions of the
lone adult may indicate that the smooth reflective surface of
the heads serves as a canopy covering more complex structures.
This smooth canopy is reminiscent of the smooth surfaces of the
queen's headpiece sheath. This sheath is comprised of at least
three independent pieces, the largest of which possesses several
overlapping flanges. Various sized holes are visible between
these flanges, and the entire sheath may serve as a production
organ for chemical signals. In the transformation from imago
to queen-imago (see the discussion of ancestral types below),
the adult canopy may develop into the sheath. Once this transformation
has been accomplished, the new queen would issue chemical signals
destroying the canopies of any nearby adults.
If the ribbed structures beneath the canopy corresponded to modest
versions of the signal production organs beneath the queen's
sheath, and were used for communication between nestmates, the
canopy might serve to isolate a lone adult from foreign signals.
Canopied adults would in effect be "deaf" to most nest
signals. If all nestmates are progeny of the same queen, then
the canopy destroying signal produced by a particular queen might
be genetically specified. A canopied adult which found itself
near a foreign nest or a foreign queen would not be susceptible
to that queen's signals, and would develop into a queen. An adult
which found itself near a related nest or queen would lose its
canopy and join the nest. A dead queen would be replaced by a
young canopied adult. It could be assumed that an uncanopied
adult would be utterly subservient to the commands of a queen,
in which case it might be possible for one queen to kill another
and steal the uncanopied members of the nest. The canopy must
allow limited communication, as a valid queen must be able to
order its destruction. Possibly, canopied adults would be capable
of identifying hosts harboring embryos as well, and could act
to protect related embryos and possibly destroy unrelated ones.
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