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Subject: MOVIES: ALIEN FAQ part 4/4
Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org (E.W.C. de Vos)
Organization: Weyland Yutani - "Building Better Worlds"
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 1994 17:05:55 GMT
Expires: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 23:00:00 GMT
Posting-Frequency: approx. every month
& ALIEN, ALIENS and ALIEN^3 &
& Information and Frequently Asked Questions &
& Version 2.1 &
& PART 4 of 4 &
16. SOME HEAVY DEDUCTIONS
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 Alien^3 films.
Important common features of aliens taken from the 3 films:
Host dependent reproduction
Dual stage metamorphic life cycle
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 life stages
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 given specific
designations as follows:
Life cycle phases: Life stage designation
 Egg is lain EGG
*maturation phase* [this period might occur in utero]
 Egg matures
*dormant phase* [length of this phase is indefinite]
Host signals are detected = motion + sounds
 Egg hatches and mobile crawler follows signals to hostLARVA
 Host's breathing orifice is secured by "face hugging" crawler
*implantation phase* ~24 hours
Embryo is implanted in host breathing system. EMBRYO
Crawler falls off, dead.
*gestation phase* ~1-10 days
 Chestbuster emerges from host NYMPH
 Chestbuster stage undergoes a series of instar-like INSTAR
transformations until the imago is achieved. IMAGO
 Queen-imago lays egg QUEEN
The life stages encompassing the egg, larva and embryo are referred to as
JUVENILE, and those encompassing the nymph, instars and imagoes are
referred to as ADULT.
Discussion of observed characteristics:
The alien life cycle is divided into two distinct stages which are
reminiscent of the alternating sporophyte and gametophyte generational
stages of plants and fungi. Plants produce distinct types of reproductive
cells (spores or gametes) which give rise to genetically distinct types of
organisms. Spores grow into gametophytes, which produce gametes, while
gametes fuse to form sporophytes which produce spores. In the alien
species, the sporophyte stage could be represented by the juvenile stages.
These would create the "spore" or embryo. The gametophyte stage could
be represented by the adult stages. These would lay eggs after gamete
fusion. Such a strategy in might be indicative of an chaotic and dangerous
natural environment (see discussion of hypothetical ancestors). We have
zero knowledge of the genetics of these creatures, so further speculation
on the existence or nature of alien reproductive cells is futile.
The alien morphology seems to be a melange of arthropod and
vertebrate characteristics. The segmented exoskeletal carapace and
variable numbers of limbs are reminiscent of terrestrial arthropods (as well
as armored fishes and reptiles to a lesser extent), while the adult body plan
seems more vertebrate in nature; the presence of a jaw, spine terminating
in a tail and limbs ending in grasping hands and feet as opposed to the
mouthparts, legs and body plan of an arthropod suggest a vertebrate
morphology. The larval legs are articulated via an endoskeleton, which
appears to be covered in a sheath of muscle and a pliable external layer of
protein and silicon. This seems to indicate that the oldest ancestors of
these creatures posessed endoskeletons, and that exoskeletons evolved
later. As is the case with vertebrate evolution in the Silurian and Devonian
periods, the endoskeleton may have evolved first as a means to protect the
CNS, and the exoskeleton could have evolved secondarily; in response to
The eggs are complex organisms in and of themselves. They are
responsible for maintaining life support for the larva for an indefinite
amount of time, and must recognize a potential host and distinguish it
from valid members of the nest. The eggs contain rudimentary moving
parts. Once the egg has determined that a host is proximal, it releases the
larva. In the modern species, the egg is flammable, translucent and
unarmored. Their gracile nature in comparison to the adults may be in
response to the security afforded by the nest strategy. Because of these
unusual qualities in an egg, it might be that the egg and larva constitute a
single organism up until the point where the larva is released. The size of
an egg in comparison to the size of the contained larva indicates
substantial internal morphology, consistent with requirements for life
support and sensory systems.
Despite the obvious immediate differences, the organism's basic body plan
may be conserved between the juvenile and adult forms. The larval form
has 8 legs, and while imago forms only appear to have 4 limbs, queens
appear to have 8. All forms have a single articulated tail, implying the
presence of a spine and CNS. As the juveniles posses an endoskeleton it
could be assumed that the adults do as well. The adult head morphology is
quite distinctive. In the post-nymph forms, the mouth contains a secondary
set of jaws on the end of the tongue, and the head is long and curved. In
the modern species, it is probable that the larval form is derived to the
point where a majority of the sensory portions of the larval body remain in
the egg when the larva is released. Anatomy corresponding to the adult
head may be contained within the egg. Accordingly, if the juvenile "air-
sacs" are used for respiration, any adult breathing apparatus would be
located posterior to the hindmost pair of adult legs. Four "vanes" are
visible on the backs of most adults, and six are visible along the backs of
queens. These may function in breathing. Additionally, the head
configuration of the adult may be adaptive in that it would prevent
accidental implantation of an embryo into an adult by a larva, or prevent
intentional implantation by a larva of another species. The legs of the larva
will not easily grasp the adult head, and the ventral "embryopositor" tube
will be subject to attack by the mouthed tongue. This may suggest that
there are competing species of these creatures on the homeworld.
While in the egg, the larva sloshes about in a fluid, suggesting aquatic
origins for this species. The emerging larva retains a thin coating of the
internal fluid, and this layer appears to be caustic, although the caustic
properties are not as dramatic as those displayed by the organism's blood.
The combination of the egg fluid and blood pH indicates drastically
different aquatic environment on the homeworld than on earth. It is
possible that the pH of the egg fluid is closer to the true pH of the oceans
on the homeworld and that the caustic properties of the organism's blood
are due to a combination of modification and adaptation to the parasitic
lifestyle, or the egg maturation process may deplete the egg fluid of its
Interior carapace pressure might indicate a higher average planetary
pressure than 14 psi. This could be a defense mechanism, or it could
simply be circulatory pressure. The internal physiology of the organism
has yet to be revealed, but pulsing "artery-like" structures have been
observed in emergent nymphs. Possibly the homeworld is larger or the
atmosphere is heavier than on earth. The larval air sacs/bellows might be a
historical adaptation to living beyond the aqueous environment, but it is
possible that these are a parasitic adaptation, and are not required by the
organism. The degree to which they function is probably dictated by the
atmospheric requirements of the host, but we have no knowledge of the
organism's atmospheric requirements. If such sacs are required, the larva
will not survive in vacuum. The adults appear to function as well
underwater as out of it, implying that the do not use air sacs. It is possible
that inert gasses irritate the adults. Possibly, they breathe using modified
gill structures located in the dorsal vanes.
Body temperature is ambient, perhaps indicating a generally warm
planetary surface temperature, or geothermal habitat requirement. It
remains to be seen how long the imago can survive in a vacuum or sub-
freezing temperatures. The low pH of the blood would seem to indicate a
drastically reduced freezing point. Queens survive extended periods of
transit through both of these environments, and it is possible that other
instar and imago forms may as well. The various adult forms demonstrate
aversion to open flames, but unlike the eggs and nymphs, are not
flammable. This suggests temperature boundaries within the upper limits
of terrestrial environments.
The lack of obvious eyes in any observed stages indicates that the aliens
either live entirely in enclosed or subterranean areas, or that there is no
visible light incident on the surface of the homeworld. If the organisms
lived entirely underground, their size and potential for well populated
nests implies a well developed and robust subterranean ecosystem. If they
lived the entirety of their lives in their nests, they would be dependent
upon the movement of prey and hosts into the nest for survival. It is
possible that they lure these into the nest, but the aliens seem quite capable
and adept at retrieving them as well. If they dwelled on an illuminated
surface for any amount of time, eyes would be a distinct advantage.
The aliens display significant ability to cling to and move on vertical and
inverted surfaces, supporting the idea that a significant portion of time is
spent underground or in enclosed spaces. Nests fit this description, and it
may be that castes which venture outside of the nest posses eyes. In this
case, these castes have not yet been observed. The nests might be
constructed above or below ground or water, but seem to be designed so
that the resinous construction material covers all surfaces near their cores.
Partially submerged nests would require air chambers for hosts and larvae.
Copious amounts of a viscous substance are constantly being secreted
from the mouthparts and neighboring regions. This substance appears to
be used in constructing nests, hardening to form a resin. Thick strands may
also be produced, although the mechanism for this is unclear. Prior to
hardening, the resin does not display caustic properties, and may act to
neutralize acids. This would be useful, both in offering protection from an
acidic environment, and in protecting the nest from being accidentally
(assuming that the aliens are not entirely subterranean)
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 acidophillic 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.
Thermophillic 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
The presence of an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton implies that
conditions changed during the evolution of the organism, requiring
armored protection of the entire body. Drastically increased predation is
one such possible change, while a dramatic lowering of the pH of the
environment is a second. These options are not mutually exclusive; hostile
changes in the environment may cause increases in levels of predation.
A low pH ocean could literally dissolve its inhabitants, forcing
them to lower their pH to meet that of the environment, present a barrier
against the caustic properties of their surroundings, leave the oceans or try
these strategies in various combinations. Thick layers of continuously
renewed armor would be constantly ablated by the acid, but could protect
underlying tissues, and secretion of neutralizing substances could serve as
similar a shield. A lowering of the blood pH might offer some protection,
but might also begin to damage one's own tissues, and would probably be
energetically expensive. Raising the pH of one's tissues would not be a
successful strategy in an aquatic environment.
The aliens posses all of these characteristics to various degrees,
suggesting that the aquatic environment is either extremely caustic, or
became progressively more caustic in discrete degrees. The modern
species appears only to produce secretions in and around the mouth
region; possibly the protective substance has to be applied to exposed
regions of the anatomy, or whole body coverage is not necessary beyond
an aquatic environment. In the former case, hardening of the resin might
serve to bolster the exoskeleton, or the exoskeleton might be formed of the
same substance, secreted from the surface of the body. The endo- and
exoskeletons would be made from different substances in this case. In
either case, the secretions around the mouth are used for building the nest.
Ancestral types might have been covered in an additional layer of
The larvae are known to have an external layer composed of some
combination of protein-polysaccharides and polarized silicon. Larvae do
not seem to produce secretions, and the external layer is not as hard in
appearance as the adult carapace. In non-nymph adults, this carapace has a
metallic appearance, and is probably composed of additional materials.
The teeth of nymphs often have a metallic appearance. If the hardening of
resinous secretions were the source of the exoskeleton, these secretions
might contain different substances depending on their intended use.
Secretions destined to become armor, structural material or strands and
cables might have very different compositions.
Living in a variety of challenging and dangerous environments
might favor the observed division of reproductive strategies. The organism
might be able to adapt rapidly to changing environments by using varying
morphologies and reproductive strategies as a means of "shifting gears".
An organism that was unconcerned with finding a mate could focus on
finding a carrier or host capable of moving its offspring to a potentially
more hospitable area. Organisms in a hospitable area could focus on
reproducing themselves as efficiently as possible. Primitive juveniles
could create embryos to be carried away by mobile hosts, while successful
adults could create multiple eggs which were suited to their environment.
Thus selection operates one way on the juveniles, selecting for those able
to find suitable hosts (including mobility when the environment is
shifting), and another way on the adults, selecting for those best suited to
their environment. This implies that primitive juvenile stages were capable
of predicting environmental shifts and altering their host selection
accordingly. That the modern species has an "atrophied" juvenile stage
implies that a stable environment was located, or that a novel strategy for
relocating was developed. The stable environment may have been space,
or perhaps there are yet unobserved castes capable of carrying eggs long
The ancestral organism's life cycle might have been similar to that
of a caterpillar/butterfly. The organism searches for a host off of which an
embryo may feed after being lain by a larva, much like a caterpillar on a
leaf. Possibly older pre-parasitic forms of this organism were like
caterpillars; the implanted "embryos" may have been mobile, representing
an intermediate life-stage (PRO-EMBRYO). It is possible that the nymph
stage may have occupied this position, having been "laid" by the larva in a
more advanced form. It certainly seems to be the case that the juvenile and
nymph stages of the modern species are developmentally simplified. The
modern larva is not capable of ingesting nutrients, being solely devoted to
implanting one embryo, and some modern nymphs emerge sans limbs or
with "limbs buds".
This primitive life cycle might have proceeded as follows:
 Egg is lain - matures - hatches
 Larva proceeds in search of food and an appropriately mobile host.
 Larva finds a host, lays pro-embryo on the host and returns to stage 2.
 Pro-embryo "grazes" on host organism or organisms
 Pro-embryo develops into first instar, becoming independent of host.
 Instars develop into imago forms.
 Imago searches for food and mates, lays eggs.
This life cycle is only "mildly" parasitic; the pro-embryo does not
necessarily harm the host during its grazing/feeding activity, but remains
in jeopardy of discovery and extermination in this vulnerable state. If the
pro-embryo were implanted internally to the host and absorbed nutrients
directly from the host, it could be less vulnerable. The first parasitic
ancestors may have placed their pro-embryos internal to the host, where
nutrients could be obtained partially digested food in the host's "stomach"
or digestive system. If the host digestive system bore similarity to
vertebrate systems, there may have been compartments of extreme pH,
which may have contributed to the acidophilic nature of the modern
species. More advanced parasites might have done away with their pro-
embryo forms, simply implanting embryos within their hosts and which
would grow to nymph form by stealing nutrients directly from the host.
These parasites would not have been social organisms.
hypothetical ancestors and habitats:
unarmored aquatic vertebrate in a mildly acidic ocean
slime-resin coated aquatic vertebrate in an acidic ocean
resin-armored and slime coated aquatic creature in a
very acidic ocean
armored terrestrial creature coping with a variety of hostile surface
above described creature with a grazing pro-embryo form
above described creature with a parasitic embryo form
The development of sociality:
In descending order, the "weak" points in the life cycle of the pre-social
organisms appear to be the dormant phase, the gestation phase and the
travel time of the larva from egg to host. These risks could be minimized
by securing the eggs "underground" (away from host/egg predation), and
by immobilizing hosts near to the eggs. The eggs might remain susceptible
to predation by small egg eating creatures or larger creatures capable of
entering an active nest, requiring cooperative measures on the part of
adults in protecting them. Sociality might develop naturally from such a
system. Initially, a division of labor between hunter-foragers to locate and
retrieve fresh hosts and warrior-scavenger-nurses to protect the eggs and
gestating hosts from predators might suffice. The subsequent evolution of
the queen dominated caste system may have been a way to diminish
competition for hosts between partially related organisms, by establishing
genetically homogenous nests. The large numbers of eggs produced by
modern queens seem to indicate a strategy involving overproduction of
eggs. The persistence of this strategy in the modern species might be due
to co-evolution of egg predators, or to environmental conditions where the
risk of destruction of significant portions of the nest was high.
Host Mediated Adaptation:
A further means to adapt to an environment is by adopting
strategies developed earlier by another species. The embryo is in a prime
position to learn about the metabolic and environmental conditions of its
host. Knowledge of local environmental conditions such as the pH,
atmospheric content and energy generation schemes would be important
for post emergence survival. Varying energy generation schemes may
result in differing metabolisms. Knowledge of the metabolic level and
requirements of the host gives an advantage to be used in hunting such
hosts. The development of the nymph might mimic other physical
attributes of the host as well. For example, if the host spent much time
hanging upside down, the nymph could develop that way as well, making
it a competent predator in an "upside down" environment.
Adult organisms are presumably adapted to their environment via
some combination of this host mediated process in concert with post-
emergence selection. In the primitive species, larval offspring of these
adapted adults will have to evaluate the state of the environment to
determine if they should seek a mobile host to find a more hospitable
environment, or if the should seek one to which they are adapted.
If a larva chooses a mobile host, its embryo may posses different
metabolic requirements or a generally different metabolism, which may
result in the death of the embryo after prolonged exposure. The nymph
must remain capable of aborting its development at the minimum possible
stage and emerging from the host, developing a new adaptive strategy
from the information gathered from the host, and surviving to reproduce
and lay eggs adapted to the new environment. This minimum stage is
limbless, displaying only the buds of limbs, and uses the segmented tail
If the larva chooses a host to which it is adapted, there will be
much less danger to the embryo from the host's metabolism, and the
nymph will be able to develop to its full form prior to emergence. This full
form possesses two sets of limbs in addition to the tail. It is possible that a
host chosen by a larva that detects no impending environmental shift
might be immobile or vegetative in nature.
Once a relatively stable environment has been located (in which
several rounds of reproduction were possible), a varying progression of
forms might be observed, as pressures of selection and host mediated
adaptation refine the organism's strategy for survival in the environment.
Since the creatures do not posses any eyes by terrestrial standards,
they must have some other means of sensing their environment. If the
body plan is conserved between juvenile and adult stages, it is reasonable
to assume that the same types of sensors are used in each case. The eggs
appear to be able to detect motion and proximity, and to be able to
distinguish between hosts and nestmates. The sensation of heat may not be
important to this process, as the natural host may have had similar body
temperature. The larvae are capable locating and determining the distance
to the host implantation orifice, and of leaping through space to that
orifice. The adults are capable of distinguishing between nestmates and
potential hosts, and are capable of detecting movement. They are probably
also possessed of pattern recognition systems, and spatial arrangement
recognition systems. Adults have been observed to fixate on objects using
their heads, suggesting that their primary sensory organs are located in the
anterior portions of their heads.
All adult stages are capable of producing a variety of sounds, and it
is probably the case that they can hear and communicate via sound.
Communication with "stripped down" eggs is probably better facilitated
via chemical means than sound. It is likely that recognition of nestmates is
achieved via a combination of chemical and sonic communication. Eggs
might communicate with each other via chemical signals. The detection of
motion and proximity may be facilitated via sonic systems. In terrestrial
nocturnal, subterranean and aquatic environments, these have proven quite
successful, and accordingly, the shape of the head is reminiscent of
cetacean crania. However, the large curving structure of the head might
serve as some other sort of sensor as well. It could be used to detect EM
wavelengths other than visible light, although it is not obvious how useful
such a structure would be in detecting longer or shorter wavelengths.
Interestingly, the creatures might have a sensory system similar to the
"motion tracking" technology developed by humans.
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 procution organs beneath the queen's sheath and
were be 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.
The modern and ancestral natural hosts:
The modern species" reproductive cycle is problematic because it
displays a dependence upon the death of a host for the reproduction of a
each organism. A host which survived nymph emergence might favor the
development of this lifestyle. Such a host would have to withstand the
damage incurred in emergence, and be able to survive further rounds of
implantation, gestation and emergence. Alternatively, ancestral forms of
the organism might have used a less injurious host-emergence strategy. If
instead of creating new exits, the nymphs emerged via the orifice through
which they were implanted, the chance of the host surviving would
increase dramatically. Possibly, ancestral organisms used such a strategy.
Also, a host with thick exterior armor would make creation of new exits
difficult. In any case, a large organism would be better suited to surviving
the embryo development process. The parasite might be little more than a
pest for a host of sufficient size, and might even serve some symbiotic
function by feeding on exoskeletal parasites of the host after emergence.
The implantation period indicates a requirement for about 24 hours of
close contact. This is facilitated by the articulated limbs and the tail. In
modern creatures, the larval "embryopositor" appears to be composed of
soft tissue, indicating that implantation is probably directly onto the
desired internal substrate as opposed to being gained by destruction of
external tissue. In addition to other possible functions, the mouthed tongue
of the imago might function to permit sampling of the tissue contained
within a hard carapace. These data suggest that the natural host possessed
a hard shell.
During the implantation phase, the host is provided with atmosphere via
specialized bellows structures on the larva, implying that the host would
be in danger of asphyxiation during the implantation process. Thus the
natural host probably has only one breathing orifice, and is at least
partially terrestrial. The parameters of the area surrounding the natural
host's breathing orifice may be estimated via observing the length of tail
available and the available span of the articulated limbs (2-3 feet for the
limbs and 4-5 feet of tail). This orifice is most likely at the end of a stalk
of indeterminate length, which might be up to a foot in diameter. The
terminus of this stalk is most likely a spheroid 1-2 feet in diameter.
The amount of oxygen provided to the host is limited by the size of
the larval bellows apparatus, and this would limit the size of a potential
host and that host's activity during implantation. Possibly the bellows size
has evolved to parallel changes in host size. The constrictive nature of the
tail would seem to suggest that the host's breathing is accomplished by
changing the volume of the stalk. Bi-directional air flow in the host might
be accomplished via the use of peristaltic waves. Since the host is likely
armored, the tail would probably not be capable of constricting the host
unless this strategy were used to inhale and exhale.
Assuming that the host would resent an attack on its sole breathing orifice
and the subsequent implantation event, temporary incapacitation of the
host would be desirable on the part of the organism. An extremely large
host might be able to detach the larva at negligible expense to its own
structure. Possibly the constrictive nature of the tail is used to immobilize
the host initially. However, an incapacitated host would be easy prey to
various other predatory creatures. It is possible that the implantation
period would not be *extremely* uncomfortable for the host, and that the
host would be capable of enduring the implantation period without
sufficient cause to successfully dislodge the parasite. In this case, the
implantation process might only diminish the host's "natural breathing
capacity', requiring the supplemental air supply provided by the larva. In
such a scenario, it might be possible for multiple larvae to simultaneously
implant embryos in hosts.
Emergence of the nymph seems to be triggered by moderate levels of host
activity. This might be a valid strategy if the host was preyed upon.
Moderate levels of activity would indicate that there were no predators
around and that the locale was safe for nymph emergence. Sufficiently
high level of activity might indicate flight from a predator, and a period of
inactivity might be indicative of a host's attempt to hide from a predator.
The general conclusions regarding the natural host are as follows; it is a
large terrestrial or semi-aquatic organism which breathes through an
orifice at the end of a stalk. This could be the host's head, or it could be a
specialized structure. The host is most likely armored and is possibly prey
to other predators.
Most of the above speculation regards the natural host of the pre-social
organism. The natural host of the social organism is most likely a smaller
version of the described host. Smaller hosts would occur in more abundant
numbers, and their populations might tolerate the parasitic lifestyle of
increasing numbers of aliens. In addition, it is more efficient to capture,
immobilize and maintain smaller hosts than large. It is possible that the
modern organism's penchant for creating a new emergence orifice is a
modification subsequent to the dispersal into space; on the homeworld, the
social organisms might remain capable of multiple rounds of implantation,
gestation and emergence on a single host. Some species might retain the
ability to switch from a social mode to a more primitive non-social mode.
Proposed ancestral types: Presumably, organisms which use these
strategies still live on the homeworld.
Early ancestor: a non-social creature with a multi-stage life cycle. Most
stages of this life cycle are omnivorous. This is a very primitive version of
Natural host: The natural host might be any large mobile creature, or it
might be some sort of immobile vegetative organism.
Life cycle: Eggs are laid in large clutches, perhaps buried in the ground or
perhaps attached to vegetative organisms via resin. This resin might also
serve to protect the eggs from predation. After a long maturation phase,
these eggs hatch and larvae emerge. These are free living organisms in
their own right, devoted to finding food and potential hosts. Possessed of
advanced sensory capabilities, these creatures are capable of producing
many pro-embryos. The eggs of this species would be little more than
containers, possessing no sensory apparatus and probably opening upon
the signal of the larva. These larvae locate and lay pro-embryos on
putative hosts. These pro-embryos digest whatever available food there is
to be found on their substrate; the food might be other surface parasites or
vegetative matter or secreted substances. These pro-embryos would be
capable of moving between hosts, and some in some "vegetative" species
might serve in a "cross-pollinating" capacity. In more advanced forms, the
pro-embryos might live in the host digestive system, feeding off of
partially digested nutrients. Once a sufficient level of nutrition has been
achieved, the embryo metamorphoses into a nymph and becomes a free
living organism. Progression through of a series of predatory instars yields
the imago, which serves the sole purpose of laying more eggs.
Comments: There are a variety of lifecycle and lifestyle strategies which
may be derived from this organism. There are probably a variety of
different species descended from this general form. The imago is the fully
adult form of the organism, having spent all of its instars searching for
food. As with the pro-embryo, this food might be both vegetative or
"animal" in nature.
Medial ancestor: a non-social predatory creature with a dual stage life
cycle. This type of creature is perhaps on the verge of developing into the
Natural host: The natural host is a large creature that breathes atmosphere
through a single orifice on the end of an armored stalk. Airflow through
this stalk is maintained by expanding and contracting the walls of the
stalk, possibly via peristaltic waves.
Life cycle: Thick-hided and perhaps armored eggs are buried in the ground
and are mortared in place with resin. The eggs mature and enter the
dormant phase. The motion and sound of a passing potential host signals
the egg to hatch and disgorge the larva which pursues, catches and
"boards" the host. In this organism, the larva's sole purpose is to locate and
implant an embryo into a host as quickly as is possible. Its sensory
apparatus are devoted to this task alone, and because it does not take
nutrition, it can only afford to implant a few embryos; in most cases it can
only manage one. The egg retains a modest ability for detection and
controls the release of the larva. The larva then locates the breathing
orifice, affixes itself to it via means of the legs and tail and supplements
the air flow to the host during the implantation phase. The embryo is
implanted in the internal substance of the breathing canal. Once
implantation is complete, the larva dies. The host proceeds, until the
nymph emerges from its "breathing trunk" via the natural orifice. The host
most likely survives this ordeal, although it might experience labored
breathing for a few days. The nymph goes through a series of instars ,
which hunt for food, until an imago is realized, which hunts for food,
mates and prospective host ranges. The mouthed tongue might be integral
to all three pursuits, as well as protecting the adults form implantation by
larvae of other species. Putative hosts might be weakened by use of the
mouthed tongue, making them more susceptible to being boarded by the
larva. A series of eggs might be lain over a large area, awaiting a
weakened host to stumble through. Possibly, the adults are capable of
cucooning themselves and or severely weakened hosts with resin in order
to protect against predation.
Comments: The eggs and larvae of this species appear intermediate in that
they share the responsibilities of host detection and selection. This
suggests that the larva and egg are a single continuous organism in this
species and that sensory organs are shared or duplicated between the two
Immediate ancestor: a predatory social creature, possibly smaller than the
medial ancestral type. This is the organism which immediately predated
the modern organism.
Natural host: a smaller version of the ancestor's host, or a similar smaller
Life cycle: A fertile queen lays thick hided eggs in a protected creche.
These are guarded and tended by various castes of adult relatives. The nest
is created and maintained by the adults and is constructed from secreted
resin. The adults procure hosts from outside the nest and immobilize them
near mature eggs. The eggs open and the larva immediately attach to the
host. Larval energy usage is almost totally devoted to adhering to the host
and implanting a single embryo. The large eggs contain most of the
important sensory and decision making apparatus, leaving the larvae as
"stripped down" as is possible. Implantation and gestation occur as in the
medial ancestor, but the nymph tears its way out of the host body. Unless
it is sufficiently large, the host likely expires in the emergence. The nymph
develops into an imago via a series of instars, which might perform
particular duties required by the nest according to their age or caste.
Comments: Queens display at least six limbs, and an additional pair of
hind limbs are required to support the ovarian organ systems. Queens have
a greater number of limbs, digits and dorsal vanes than are observed in
various adult forms, and thus may represent a most advanced instar form.
If this is the case, the various observed forms may represent different
instar stages of adult development, and each of these might correspond to
a different caste. A nymph which found it self isolated from a nest, or in a
nest sans a functional queen, might develop rapidly through a series of
instars (which would only be of use in a functional nest) and into a queen-
imago which could then begin the egg laying process and re-establish
control of a leaderless nest. A queen in a functioning nest would suppress
this development in all other individuals, halting their development at the
penultimate imago stage. This could be accomplished via a special queen-
produced chemical signal which causes the destruction of adult canopies.
A lone imago metamorphosing into a queen-imago might require a period
of hibernation as it develops the morphological characteristics of a queen:
the auxiliary ventral arms, large headpiece sheath and externalized ovarian
systems with associated legs. In this case, the adult canopy might be the
source of the developmental signals which trigger the transformation, and
would develop into the sheath.
The queen-imago is a form devoted to producing large numbers of
eggs in a short amount of time. Presumably, this form is a novel
development which is specific to the social species. It might be that imago
form retains the ability to lay eggs at a much lower rate and at much
greater expense to itself. This would require an override of the natural
inclination for canopied imago forms to develop into queen-imagoes, and
would probably only occur under periods of extreme stress when the
nutritional requirements of metamorphosis into a queen could not be met.
The most difficult problem regards the provenance of the "acidic blood'. It
is likely that the caustic properties of the blood are not due to simple pH,
but that other chemical and enzymatic factors are in effect. Regardless, the
origin of such a system remains difficult to estimate. The egg fluid would
seem to indicate a moderately acidic aquatic environment. An acidification
of the blood might have arisen as a defense mechanism, or in response to
changes in the environment, or as an adaptation to a life cycle stage in an
acidic digestive environment. The organism's "blood" might be its
digestive system, which would suggest an extremely different internal
structure than terrestrial standards. The caustic properties of the blood
appear to be more effective on synthetic and organic materials than on
metals, supporting the idea that other chemical and enzymatic factors are
at work, which in turn supports the digestive theory.
The characteristics discussed above are not the sole characteristics
available for discussion, nor are the conclusions drawn the only
conclusions possible. This is simply one possible picture based on the set
of assumptions and the data.
15. REVISION HISTORY
(Daryll Hobson initiated this FAQ)
v1.0 - March 22, 1993 - Initial draft. Most information supplied by me alone.
v1.1 - March 31, 1993 - Added countless bits of information supplied by
interested users of the net.
v1.2 - April 14, 1993 - Revision control. Chestburster scene added, more info
on the dog/cow scene of _ALIEN^3_, more _ALIENS_ cut scenes, added to
the alien physiology discussion. Small changes to the merchandise
list. Added more "memorable quotes" and more "trivia". Added
"rituals" section and switched around the order of the sections to
make the FAQ more readable.
v1.3 - May 5, 1993 - Small changes to the "Who is?" section. Removed the
Chestburster scene. Organized the discussion section. Added some
more frequently asked questions. More complete descriptions of the
cut scenes from _ALIEN_ and _ALIENS_ were added as well. More trivia.
v1.4 - June 23, 1993 - Added Gibson's ALIEN^3 script synopsis, James Cameron's
answers to a few questions about ALIENS and vastly improved the
merchandise and FAQ sections.
v1.5 - Sept 14, 1993 - Added more frequently asked questions. Added running
times to some of the _ALIEN_ cut scenes. More rituals. Added
extensive info about _ALIEN^3_ script rewrites.
v1.6 - Sept 21, 1993 - In an effort to reduce (eliminate?) the all-too-common
flaming of _ALIEN^3_, I added a section to Frequently Discussed
Topics that addresses both sides of the argument. Broke the FAQ up
into 3 parts so I could (once again) post it to the Internet.
v1.7 - Dec 25, 1993 - FINALLY got an FTP site for the FAQ. Added to the
technical errors, frequently asked questions, trivia. Increased
emphasis on NOT asking me "Where can I get Gibson's ALIEN 3 script?"
v1.8 - Mar 8, 1994 - More information on soundtracks. Added to frequently
asked questions, trivia and memorable quotes. Memorable quotes
ordered according to when they occur in the movies. Didn't get
around to adding ALL that new merchandise yet. What a nightmare!
v1.9 - April 10,1994 - Changed information on how to get Gibson's ALIEN 3
script. Added to frequently asked questions, merchandise and
v2.0 - June 14, 1994 - Added more memorable quotes, questions and
merchandise. Prepared the document to be HANDED OFF (ie: no longer
maintained by me).
(Eelko de Vos took over the maintenace of the FAQ)
v2.1 - August 12, 1994 - Added some more info on various subjects. Also added
part four to the faq: Steve's document about what he derived from the
alien movies. It are the insights of a molecular biologist. I
rearranged some bits, but most this document is mostly in its original
state. I added the Alien homepage on www to it.
& The END &