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Xenomorph Facts

Updated on May 7, 2015

Xenomorphs are perhaps the most deadly of all fictional alien species and have been captivating the imaginations of sci-fi and horror fans since 1979 when we were first introduced to the Alien species. What an introduction it was, these monsters have earned monstrous numbers at the box office as well as legions of dedicated fans!

Since then the Aliens have enjoyed great success as a media franchise involving 5 movies with another on the way, books, toys, video games and comic books. The alien momentum shows no signs of letting up either with new toys, comic books and games appearing all the time.

But how much is actually known about the Aliens or Xenomorphs themselves? Well lots on to learn 5 interesting facts about Xenomorphs.


5. The Name Xenomorph

The name Xenomorph is from the Greek words xeno (meaning stranger, alien or foreigner) and from the word morphe (meaning shape).

The latin term for the aliens is Internecivus Raptus which translates to muderous thief. A very fitting name for this creature from deep space which uses a "host" to incubate its offspring.

Xenomorphs are commonly referred to as just aliens in the both the Alien movie series, the Predator series and popular culture.

Image - Alien Purchase Print

Alien development
Alien development

4. The Alien Life cycle

The life cycle of the xenomorph is not unlike an insect involving many stages of development beginning life as an egg laid by the queen. It hatches as a "face hugger" when suitable prey is nearby.

The huggers job is to attach itself to the host and implant an embryo in the host which will, in a short time, become a xenomorph infant known affectionately as a "chest burster". This is known as the gestation phase. The infant is then believed to cocoon or molt and become an adult though little is actually referenced in the films.

Adult xenomorphs are lethal killing machines designed to protect and serve the queen of the species much like a beehive or ant colony. The adults are divided into a caste system which includes:

  • Drones - Drones are workers designed to maintain and protect the colony.
  • Warriors - The real protection for the colony comes from the warriors which are much larger and stronger than the drones.
  • Preatorians - The queens royal guard much bigger and ferocious than warriors. They are warriors intructed to evolve by a release of the queens pheromones.
  • Queen - The largest and most intelligent of the alien classes. She is responsible for perpetuating the species by laying and protecting hundreds of eggs. A drone will use hormones to change to a queen if none are within the "hives mind range".

Image - Life cycle of Xenomorphs

Alien Evolution

Carbon Planet
Carbon Planet

3. The Alien Home Planet

Xenomorphs come from a planet called Xenomorph Prime or Proteus and is home to two distinct xenomorph races, the regular black-green aliens and the rare reddish colored Xenomorphs. The two races are not on good terms and regularly engage in combat with each other.

Xenomorph prime is a cold and barren planet with a harsh climate located in deep space. Its surface is scarred by constant wind storms and volcanic activity. It is said that the Mala'kak used this planet millions of years ago to breed and store the Aliens for use as biological weapons.

The planet has never been seen in a single alien movie but it has been hinted by Ridley Scott that it, and the Mala'kak, may be featured in the upcoming alien film Prometheus.

Image - Artists rendering of a carbon planet

Predalien (Alien and Predator hybrid)
Predalien (Alien and Predator hybrid)

2. Horizontal Gene Transfer

A process called horizontal gene transfer occurs during the gestation phase in which the embryonic Xenomorph assumes genetic characteristics of its host. This allows the alien species to survive in its hosts environment.

The embryo attaches itself to a major artery in its host from which it absorbes nutrients to fuel its growth. It is thought that DNA would be transferred during this act which would allow the Xenomorph to develop.

The characteristics of the host determine the xenomorphs ultimate appearance. Aliens which implanted in the predator species looked very predator like for example.

Image - A Predalien is the result of an Alien implanting an embryo in a Predator

Alien vs. Predator
Alien vs. Predator

1. Alien Origins

Mysteriously there is not one concrete fact regarding the actually origin of the Alien species mentioned in all the movies or novels. But there are some interesting theories regarding the beginning of these deadly aliens.

The main theories -

  • Natural evolution - They may have just evolved on a planet very different than ours and hitched a ride with a traveller or on a meteor.
  • Genetically engineered - A species known as the Mala'kak (Space Jockeys) genetically manufactured the alien species to terraform new planets by destroying its ecosystem which they would then re-inhabit. An attempt to use the genetic weapon to end a civil war that was destroying Mala'kak civilization apart failed and resulted in the destruction of their home planet.
  • Genetically engineered - The predator species is another theory involving genetic engineering. It is theorized that the Yautja (predators) created the aliens are the most advanced prey they could hunt for sport.
  • Xenomorph civilization collapse - Another theory is that the aliens were the most advanced species in the universe but a global plague on their planet wiped out all the adults forcing the young to devolve to survive.

One thing is for sure the mystery surrounding the Xenomorph origins is almost as fun as the aliens themselves.

Image - Alien vs. Predator Requiem Purchase Print

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    • FreakyV profile image

      FreakyV 5 years ago from Canada

      @LabKittyDesign: Interesting information, I haven't seen Prometheus yet so I don't know about that. I kind like the idea of the queen though.

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 5 years ago

      IIRC the life cycle of the alien was changed specifically for the second film because the studio wanted a queen for Ripley to fight. In the deleted scenes of the first film (and in Dan O'Bannons's novelization) they show eggs don't come from a queen; they come from dissolved victims.

      Was this mentioned in Promethus? (Still) haven't seen it and am avoiding all discussion of the film to avoid spoilage.

      And how kick-ass is Ridley Scott's trailer of Alien? Answer: very kick-ass.