Xenomorph Morphology: Ideal Predators
Space has always fascinated man with its icy beauty. Even at the turn of the XXII century, when dozens of light years are no longer an obstacle to space navigation technologies, many liken space to the vast ocean of the Earth. Like the watery expanses of our cradle, the depths of space were inhabited by mysterious creatures, whose nature inspires awe in the hearts of even experienced pilots and avid xenobiologists.
One of the most dangerous creatures of outer space is, of course, Internecivus raptus (lit. “bloodthirsty hunter”), also known as “ xenomorph ”. It is noteworthy that both names of this animal perfectly reflect the essence of its nature. The word raptus is also a special term in psychology for a short-term attack of acute, frenzied arousal caused by an excessively intense and uncontrolled affect - longing, fear, or anxiety. This definition ideally describes the emotions that the victim experiences when meeting this representative of a predatory alien fauna.
Even for the prominent xenobiologists of our time, the morphology of I. raptus is in many ways a mystery. This is partly based on the impossibility of studying biological samples in laboratory conditions: despite numerous precautions and experienced scientists working with Weiland-Utani Corporation, working with living individuals or their tissues has inevitably still led to disaster, even though the authorities try to hide this information from the public. The nature of the amazing creatures that live on the planets of the Zeta Grid system and, apparently, are closely related to the ancient civilization of the Engineers, is an amazing hybrid of both the morphology of terrestrial animals and completely alien forms and manifestations of life that are of particular interest to scientists.
It is worth noting that many call xenomorphs " universal parasites ." This is only partially true: in its life, I. raptus goes through a cycle in several stages, from an egg to an adult, and at each stage the role in the food chain changes. To prove this, we will examine each of them in detail:
It all starts with the fact that the female, the queen of the hive, lays a lot of eggs in sticky cocoons, which, like polyps, can be attached to almost any surface using thin roots (rhizoids), as well as adhesive organic glue. Rhizoids provide support for embryonic development by absorbing nutrients and water from the substrate. In the event of adverse conditions, the egg is encapsulated and can wait for decades (and according to some unverified data, much longer) to wait for an opportunity to hatch.
As soon as a mammal of suitable size is within reach of the egg, the second stage begins. The so-called facehugger, an arachnid larva with a powerful jointed tail, hatches from an egg. It lacks digestive organs, and therefore the larval life is very limited. Its task is to detect the victim and attack as soon as possible by implanting in her body a capsule with the embryo of the parasite-sternum through the mouth or respiratory opening. It is noteworthy that the creature that was attacked falls into a coma, and the person who is captured during the implantation process becomes a kind of breathing apparatus that supports the life of the owner. At the end of the process, the faceshagger detaches from the victim and dies.
The third stage of xenomorph development for some time parasitizes on the host's organism, feeding on the contents of its digestive tract. Having woken up with mild amnesia, the victim usually does not remember the attack of the face-grabber, and therefore does not hinder the development of the xenomorph in itself. After gaining the necessary mass and finally filling out the limbs, the breast pierces the host’s chest and gets out. A small, incredibly mobile individual is usually extremely vulnerable, and therefore tries to find shelter and gain the necessary body weight there.
Having strengthened, the xenomorph passes into its final and final stage - the adult, which is no longer a parasite, but a full-fledged hunter, earning food for himself and for the hive. External data and even some physiological characteristics of an adult xenomorph depend on the genome of the host in which the breast was implanted. The phenomenal adaptive abilities of I. raptus are unparalleled in xeno-nature: the acquisition of the traits of the species to which the potential victims belong, coupled with some unique features, make xenomorphs the most dangerous predator in the sectors of the Milky Way known to mankind. According to the latest reports of the missing research vessel Prometheus, received via encrypted communication channels, protomorphs and neomorphs, biological predecessors of the modern species I. raptus, demonstrated the ability to adopt features not only of humans, but also of animals and even representatives of the Engineer race.
Consider the xenomorph organism more closely:
The first thing that attracts attention is the smooth shell that covers the body and limbs of I. raptus. A strong external skeleton protects internal organs and soft tissues from damage, is extremely resistant to mechanical and chemical influences, so for effective resistance to xenomorph it is recommended to use large-caliber small arms, as well as flamethrowers.
A characteristic feature of most subspecies of xenomorphs is pharyngognathia, or additional jaw. A similar mechanism is present in terrestrial fauna, in particular in some fish. It serves to supplement the main oral apparatus, and in the case of xenomorphs with powerful primary jaws, it helps to fix the prey and push food into the larynx.
Perhaps the biggest mystery of the anatomy of I. raptus is the chemical composition of the fluid that replaces the blood. Like the arachnids of the Earth, xenomorphs compensate for the lack of muscle mass (which can sometimes be problematic in harsh ambush hunting) with hydraulic structures that support turgor and provide mobility, as well as supply the glands with fluid that liberates abundantly as protective mucus at all stages of animal development. Possessing highly corrosive and pronounced acidic properties, “blood” also serves as the main tool of attack, defense and even movement, dissolving metal ceilings and allowing the xenomorph to move freely inside large buildings and natural caves.
Scientists believe that the xenomorph organism itself is resistant to acidic blood due to a complex of peptides unknown to us that allow even aggressive acid agents to be included in the metabolism. Another theory is that the inner walls of the vessels and cavities of the body of I. raptus are lined with a layer of cells that produce substances similar to Teflon, which is famous for its resistance to the strongest inorganic acids.
The last feature characteristic of xenomorphs is an elongated skull with poorly developed or fully reduced eyes. As already mentioned, the anatomy of the organism I. raptus usually borrows the features and properties of the host, but the shape of the skull, as a rule, undergoes not so significant changes. According to most scientists, this structure is due to the ability to echolocation: due to the fact that sunlight is poorly penetrating tight hive tunnels and dark corridors of space station rooms, the hunter relies on excellent sense of smell and the ability to create and capture low-frequency sound vibrations using whom he can detect even small prey.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say a few words about the social aspect of the life of xenomorphs, although it has been studied much worse than others. Judging by the brief descriptions of eyewitnesses and the few surviving during the scientific research expeditions, the social structure of the hive of xenomorphs is extremely close to the family of terrestrial insects Formicidae, or Ants. Communications in the environment of I. raptus are carried out with the help of odorous signaling substances, and both queen and individuals-soldiers or individuals-workers can appear from their eggs, but the determining factor that affects this process is still unknown.
The queen, or the queen of the hive, is a fertile female capable of producing offspring. It is motionless, and only in case of extreme danger can it tear off a massive ovipositor and escape by flight or take part in the battle for the hive. The female possesses a high level of intelligence, in comparison with soldiers, balancing on the verge of instincts.
On May 18, the premiere of the continuation of the film Prometheus, entitled Alien: Testament, will take place in Russia, which will tell about the events that took place a decade after the stampede of archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw from the planet LV-223. In anticipation of the release of the film on May 10, Popular Mechanics will launch a unique project that will tell you about the features of the legendary Alien movie universe and allow you to immerse yourself in the gloomy world of the distant future.
It is noteworthy that back in the 20th century, at the dawn of mankind's exploration of outer space, the artist and sculptor Hans Rudolf Giger captured design elements on the pages of his numerous collections, which upon closer examination turned out to be incredibly similar to the general morphological features of I. raptus, as well as the architecture of the ships of the Engineers, a mysterious xenorace, according to several researchers, who contributed to the emergence of life on many exoplanets. It is not known whether the aforementioned Giger entered into physical or mental contact with representatives of extraterrestrial civilizations, however, the Federal Council, on the initiative of the Weiland-Yutani, has now banned the private and commercial distribution and copying of the artist’s work, removing the originals of his works from the property of art museums.