Note from archiver<at>cs.uu.nl:
This page is part of a big collection
of Usenet postings, archived here for your convenience.
For matters concerning the content of this page,
please contact its author(s); use the
source, if all else fails.
For matters concerning the archive as a whole, please refer to the
or contact the archiver.
Subject: MOVIES: ALIEN FAQ part 4/4
This article was archived around: 23 Nov 1997 15:47:30 GMT
Expires: Jun 03 98
Posting-Frequency: approx. every month
--,_ < <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> > _,--
\ ALIEN, ALIENS and ALIEN^3 /
,_ | | _,
`-,__| Information and Frequently Asked Questions |__,-'
VVVV ______,_ Version 2.6 _,______ VVVV
_M_M_M_ PART 4 of 4 _M_M_M_
\______\ < < < < < < <<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>> > > > > > > /______/
14. MOVIE WATCHING RITUALS
Basically, if you know of any rituals that you or your friends perform when
any one of the ALIEN movies is shown (ie: screaming things at the movie,
acting out different parts, etc...) then they belong in this section.
- When repeatedly watching this film with friends, we've only really evolved
one tradition when watching the film. When Burke has abandoned them, and
opens the door, just to see the alien there, hissing at him, it has become
somewhat traditional to shout "Let's eat Burke" repeatedly. Oh yeah, and
when Newt falls into the water, it's fairly obvious that you have to shout
"Behind you" fairly loudly, just like the scene in which Dallas 'gets it'
from the alien.
- ALIEN: deep, impressed silence.
ALIEN^3: loud, carthatic weeping.
- ALIENS: imitating Hudson's "Game over MAN, game over!" as he says it in
the movie. (and even when we're not watching the movie)
- leaping at the screen to get a four-inch-away view of the various types of
military hardware to get more details about function and what props are
made from (ie: the Flame units are slightly modified M-16 rifles)
- In Aliens, during Ripley's first nightmare at Gateway Station. When she
pulls back her shirt and sees the alien trying to poke through and then
wakes up in horror, one of us HAS to say, "Damn Tacos!"
- Counting the number of times "Hudson" is said over the course of _ALIENS_.
- Yelling "Save Jones!" in ALIEN.
- Jumping out of the seat screaming "They're coming!!" during ALIEN^3 as
the Company ship approaches.
- 'Parotting' the word 'Right...' like Brett.
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
At this time the original soundtrack album to "Alien" is available on both
CD and Cassette from SILVA SCREEN RECORDS LTD..
This release was produced by the Composer, Jerry Goldsmith and contains
his original score from the film, portions of which were not used in the
final of the film. Anyone with information about which tracks were, and
which were not used, is encouraged to mail me about this!
These tracks include the following
(1.) Main Title
(3.) The Shaft
(4.) End title
Portions of his score for the l962 film "Freud" were tracked into the film
for two scenes
(1.) Dallas Shaft search for the alien
(2.) The Acid dripping through the deck
On the "Freud" album these tracks are called
(1.) Main Title
(2.) Charcolt's Case
(3.) Desperate Case
This disc was released by CITADEL RECORDS (CT 7011), it is now out of
print and was only avaiable on LP only.
The End Credits of the film are taken from a Charles Gerdhart conducted
recording of Howard Hanson's symphony #2 "The Romantic" (The last 2 1/2
minutes of the first movement.
Music by James Horner
The Original soundtrack album to the film is available from VARESE
SARABANDE RECORDS (VCD 47263)
It is worth noting that a portion of Jerry Goldsmith's score turns up in
the film for the scene in which Newt and Ripley are chased by the Queen
Mother to the Elevator shaft. This piece ends as Ripley and Newt see that
the 2nd dropship isn't waiting for them.
This piece is called "The FaceHugger" on the "Alien" Soundtrack.
The _ALIENS_ soundtrack contains music from a scene that was not in the
theatrical release. "Dark Discovery" (played when the Jorden family
discover the derelict spacecraft) could therefore be heared years before
the public could see the scene.
Music by Elliot Goldenthal
The original soundtrack album was released on MCA RECORDS (MCAD l0629) It
is available on both CD and Cassette.
BE WARNED: MCA has a nasty habit deleting titles and not telling the
public about it. so if you see a copy of this GRAB IT AT ONCE.
The two biggest items that you won't hear on the disc are the End Title
(Mr. Goldenthal didn't write one, the music editor cut together the End
Titles from other sections of the score).
The other item is the twisted version of the 20th Century Fox logo. This
is supposed to appear on an upcoming FOX RECORDS release of Music from
"Predator" (Alan Silvestri) and "Die Hard" (Release date TBA).
The best way to obtain any of these discs is to contact
1488 Vallejo St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
16. SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE ALIEN SPECIES
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 stages: Life stage designation
 Egg is released from queen. 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 opens releasing crawler. . LARVA
Larva follows host signals.
Host's breathing orifice is secured by larva.
*implantation phase* ~24 hours
 Larva implants embryo in host breathing system. EMBRYO
*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 creates egg. QUEEN
The life stages encompassing the egg and larva are referred to as
JUVENILE, and those encompassing the embryo, 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 embryo. The gametophyte stage could be
represented by the adult stages. These would create 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, and further speculation
on the existence or nature of alien reproductive cells would be unfounded.
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 possessed 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 remains suspended 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
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. In addition to
functioning as the medium for an internal transport system, 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.
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 to any great extent, but pulsing "artery-like"
structures have been observed in emergent nymphs, implying some sort of
pumping "heart" organ. 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 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
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 produced 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 produced from 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 created - matures - hatches
 Larva proceeds in search of food and an appropriately mobile host.
 Larva releases a pro-embryo on a host and returns to stage .
 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, creates 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 create 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
emergent nymph and adult 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 a similar
ambient body temperature. The larvae are capable of 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. Some degree of
communication between eggs is likely, as only one egg ever responds
when presented with a viable host, even if there are numerous eggs in
proximity to the host.
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. Possibly, the creatures posses 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 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.
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, or might have facilitated in creating an opening in
a hard carapace specifically for use in implantation. 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 one host.
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 organisms. 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
Proposed ancestral types:
Presumably, organisms which use these strategies still live on the
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 the organism.
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 created 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
produce 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 creating 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 modern organism.
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 proximal 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 many 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 created in a large area, waiting for 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
Life cycle: A fertile queen creates 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 creating 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 create eggs at a much lower rate and at much
greater expense to itself (See Appendix A). 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.
Appendix A: Spore theory of Reproduction
The hypothesis in this section was formulated after extensive
discussions with Gregory S. Turenchalk and Eelko de Vos, however that
which follows is only intended to represent the ideas of the author.
An unused scene in the film _Alien_ demonstrates the ability of an
imago to infect a host in a manner which converts it into an egg. The exact
nature and contents of this egg are unknown, but it is presumed to contain
a larva. The process by which this occurs may be functionally similar to
the embryo implantation process as carried out by a larva. As the larva-
implanted embryo converts a portion of the host into a nymph, so does the
imago-implanted factor convert a much larger portion of the host into an
egg, further supporting the idea of functional and morphological identity
being conserved between the juvenile and adult life stages. This factor will
hereafter be referred to as the "spore".
The development of the queen-imago as sole reproducing member
of a nest may be explained via the existence of the postulated spore. A
maturation phase has been suggested for eggs during which they are not
capable of identifying a valid host or of producing a viable larva. This
maturation phase would correspond to the period of time after the spore is
introduced to the host body during which the tissue of the host is
converted into egg tissue. In addition to her large size, the queen is
impressive in her continuous production of eggs. It remains unclear as to
whether or not these eggs are mature immediately after they have been
released from the ovipositor, however the rapid creation of eggs in this
fashion would be greatly facilitated if the bulk of the egg matter as seen
within the translucent egg creating organs was merely specially aggregated
"yolk" material which had been implanted with a spore by the queen. The
infected yolk would then be converted into an egg by the spore, just as
would an infected host.
In this case, the development of the queen-imago and her complex
egg production organs reflect the creation of a system whereby the queen
converts nutrients into a yolk or "pseudo-host", specially designed to be
implanted with a spore. The queen, in addition to being the organizational
hub of the nest, can then be seen as a special processor designed to convert
raw materials into pseudo-hosts, while the spore is seen as the remains of
the ancestral system of reproduction wherein hosts were aquired by adults
for implantation. Possibly, queens retain the ancestral ability to infect real
hosts with spores, and may rely on this capacity in the event that the egg
production organs sustain irreparable damage.
This implies that there were two periods of host-mediated
adaptation during the lifecycle of ancestral organisms. The first occurred
during the maturation phase of the egg, and the second occurred during the
gestation phase of the nymph. It further implies that the queen may direct
the adaptation of her offspring by creating special pseudo-hosts based on
the information obtained during her own gestation phase. This may permit
a faster or more efficient means of achieving adaptation to a new
environment, and may allow the queen to control the makeup of the nest
by changing the character of the pseudo-hosts.
The proposed lifecycle stages and designations are revised as follows
Life cycle stages: Life stage designation
 Queen implants spore in pseudo-host.
*maturation phase* [Egg is released during this phase]
 Pseudo-host is converted into mature egg. EGG
Host signals are detected.
 Egg opens and mobile crawler emerges. LARVA
Larva follows signals to host.
Host's breathing orifice is secured by larva.
 Larva implants embryo in host breathing system. EMBRYO
 Chestbuster emerges from host. NYMPH
 Chestbuster stage undergoes a series of instar-like INSTAR
transformations until the adult is achieved. IMAGO
 Queen-imago begins producing spores. QUEEN
The life stages encompassing the spore, egg and larva are referred to as
JUVENILE, and those encompassing the embryo, nymph, instars and
imagoes are referred to as ADULT.
Finally, it might be that prior to metamorphosis into a queen, each
imago implants a host with a spore in this manner. It is likely that the
queen becomes immobile once her egg production organs mature, and it
would be difficult for her to obtain sufficient nutrients and hosts to
establish a nest were she alone. If the imago prepared a second host in
addition to the one it had implanted with a spore, the new queen would be
assured of having at least one adult who could function in obtaining
nutrients for the generation of her eggs and hosts for larval implantation.
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.
17. 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
I made the Alien WWW pages grow considerably. They are (were!) at:
v2.2 - December 10, 1994 - Added new stuff to several parts of the FAQ. I also
updated the Alien pages considerably, which are now very eagerly
visited. This caused quite some problems with my sysop. Therefore
another computer was located and almost entirely dedicated to the Alien
WWW pages. The old address still works, but also redirects to the new
This site might have some problems in the beginning, but will probably
be faster than the one before.
v2.3 - Added a new part, 'MUSIC' and did some minor updates. Contacted Alien
War and a friend of H.R. Giger, both adding to the Lore of the Aliens.
Alien War suggested a reduction to the attraction when the Alien WWW
pages. We are discussing this option. Alien War will give more info as
to what they 'invented'.
v2.4 - Added quite some new parts in multiple chapters. Corrected some
Changed the chapter of Hivequeen (speculations) into a new version he
v2.5 - Added new parts to the 'Frequently Discussed Topics' and 'Frequently
Asked Questions'. Added an ALIEN4 part too, to keep ahead.
Also changed some parts minorely.
v2.6 - Added some Alien4 rumours to part 4, chapter 16. Removed all the links
to the Alien Homepage Pages at dutiws.twi.tudelft.nl: that machine
crashed and will not be up again. Changed it temporarily to
for as long as it is 'allowed'.
v2.7 - Alien-Resurrection has just come out, and the Alien Faq is altered
accordingly. Any new info on the stuff is very welcome. My Alien
Website is unfortunately still offline, but it will soon be added to
the (dutch) SF-Report website at
& The END &