An outline of available information about aliens
[Discuss in Forums]
NETWORK INTERFACE 2037
READY FOR INQUIRY
Are there different varieties of Alien?
What the films say : The Alien(s) in each film look different. The second film has the creatures lacking the translucent cowl of the first Alien and different number and configuration of fingers. In the third film, the creature lacks the dorsal tube and spike in the middle of the shoulder blades, and while having the same number of fingers as the original (six), the second & third and fourth & fifth are fused. The fourth film has the creature looking more like the original, but with elongated feet and fingers (four this time, though the index and middle fingers are much longer than normal).
The Alien in the first film predominantly killed (all except Dallas - conjecturally), as did the creature in the third film (pretty much everyone - though it did kill Clemens then abduct the body; Andrews was dragged off then, judging from the blood, killed). The creatures in the second film mainly captured hosts, and only killed a few (Ferro, Spunkmeyer, probably Burke, possibly Wierzbowski). The Aliens in Resurrection did a bit of both (Elgyn, Perez, the flash frozen guard, the lifeboat occupants were killed outright; Hillard, Gediman, at least half a dozen others were abducted - though there's a better than even chance Hillard drowned). There are well over a hundred PDT signals seen in Aliens. Hudson commented it "looks like all of 'em [the colonists]". We don't know if all the colonists were abducted or some were killed and taken to use for food, especially since the issue of whether Aliens actually eat is also unresolved.
Some contend the Aliens in the second film are a slightly different breed that capture rather than kill and are distinguished by their ribbed heads. They can kill if the situation necessitates, but usually capture. Others claim the Aliens in the second film are just the same as the ones in other films, but are a bit older and lose/ shed their cowl at a certain point in their development.
All chestbursters have a smooth head.
All Aliens have the ribbed heads - but three out of the four we've seen have a cowl covering it. It should also be noted that the Aliens in films one, three and four are only up to 4 days old at best, while the Aliens in the second film could conceivably be 4 weeks old - possibly older.
The only distinction ever made between Aliens is made by Ripley in Alien3 when she notes the difference between the creature that burst from Spike the dog and the ones she's previously seen.
Aside from the differentiation between adult Alien and Queen the films don't directly address any different varieties of Alien.
What the novelisations say : A C Crispin refers to the Aliens in the Resurrection novel as "warriors", but no other types are mentioned. Alan Dean Foster draws on James Cameron's shooting script when he mentions drones - smaller, albino Aliens whose sole purpose is to tend the Queen and her eggs.
What the scripts say : Aside from the aforementioned albino drones, the scripts don't support different varieties of Alien. The albino drones don't appear in the theatrical or Special Edition release of Aliens, and there is no evidence to suggest they were ever created or shot.
What Aliens vs. Predator says : The second installment of the first-person-shooter computer game has drones (same as second film), runners (same as third film), praetorians (royal guards), predaliens (Aliens bred out of Predators), Queens and an Empress (Queen of Queens). The original AvP arcade game has warriors, stalkers, chrysalis, smashers, razor claws, the list goes on. The original Aliens arcade game also had many different varieties. The varieties in computer games are very likely just that - for variety. Stops the game from getting boring.
What the official Alien Legacy website says : Soldiers abduct hosts and drones tend the hive. Seeing as this is in the area of the website devoted to the second film, this may be in reference to Cameron's albino drones.
What James Cameron says : Has made reference to drones and warriors outside of his script, but it's likely he's referring to the ones in said script. He has also concurred that the ribbed head Aliens looked that way due to age. His original intention was not to make any distinction - he simply left the Aliens without a cowl for aesthetic reasons. He has also said his opinions on what happens off screen hold as much weight as anyone elses (ie. not a great deal).
What Dark Horse comics say : There are warriors/ drones (though as far as the Network can tell, these seem to be the pretty much the same thing), royal guards, Queens and Queen Mothers. Though research in this area is incomplete, Aliens : Colonial Marines comic editor Dan Thorsland has this to say in response to a readers letter "The ridged head/ smooth head point is a good one, Brendan, and in a hive situation, there may be subtle differences - or "classes" - of Aliens. There have been many discussions concerning this around these parts, and the conclusion reached is always the same: They're Aliens, and as such, we can only guess."
What the CCG says : There are warriors, pet hybrids (same as the Alien on Fiorina), predator hybrids, royal guards, Queens, and something called a warrior Queen, which seems to be be a Queen sans egg-sac.
What the RPG says : There are warriors, sentries (middle men between the warriors and Queen; aesthetically identical to warriors) and Queens. Warriors are able to lay one egg per day if it 15 pounds of organic material is consumed. Queens progress through 10 growth stages.
What the Colonial Marines Technical Manual says : Author Lee Brimmicombe-Wood cleverly tiptoes around the issue by only offering speculation. There's talk of 'worker drones' and Queens, then speculation about there being a caste system based on there being soldiers, hunter-gatherers, and nurse-maids to the Queen, but in the same breath admitting there is a possibility that the 'worker drone' handles all the aforementioned roles as follows...
"I'm interested in the whole hive structure concept. We know there are at least two types of alien - queen and worker drone. Could there be any more?"
"Possibly. We don't have enough visual evidence to make a guess. It would seem consistent that there was some kind of caste polymorphism in the species based on function, though it's also credible that the worker drone is a multi-function type, acting as a soldier, hunter-gatherer and nursemaid to the queen."
Ref pp 155
Where does a chestburster gestate?
What the films say : Chest cavity - between the heart and right-hand lung. This is revealed on Ripley's neuroscan in Alien3. In Alien Resurrection we travel straight down Purvis throat as he gives birth and the Alien is sitting in his esophagus. Where it was before this, if it indeed was elsewhere, is not known. The film is backed up by props built by Amalgamated Dynamics for the neuroscan shots, which have a gap between the heart and lung for the embryo to be placed. The surgical removal of the Queen embryo from Ripley on the Auriga suggests the embryo is not inside any particular organ.
What the scripts say : The only time it's mentioned is in a deleted scene from Alien where Ripley and Ash talk about a stain on Kane's lung which is blocking the autodoc's scanner. This could mean it was in the lung, or in the immediate vicinity of the lung.
What the novelisations say : Same as script for Alien.
What the comics say : The comics don't show us in precise anatomical detail, but a couple of pictures from Aliens - Book 1 and Labyrinth suggest somewhere just below the heart. The Aliens vs. Predator - Eternal comics tell us that shortly prior to birth, the embryo is free floating in the chest cavity. The novel of Earth Hive (based on Book 1) says it's in the stomach.
Do Aliens eat?
What the films say : Nothing concrete. Scenes in Alien3 would suggest the Alien eats, but it could very well be simply mauling it's victims - making sure they're dead. Clemens is killed then dragged off. It's possible Clemens was dragged off for food. Same deal with Brett in Alien (deleted scene notwithstanding).
What the novelisations say : Yes. Both Alien and Alien Resurrection make mention of Aliens needing to eat. In Alien the crew find it in a food locker, possibly explaining it's rapid growth rate. In Alien Resurrection mention is made of dead victims being used for food.
What the scripts say : The food locker scene wasn't in the final draft of Alien. No mention in other films.
What the official website says : Yes. Chestbursters eat their hosts after birth when there are no immediate threats. Evidence from Aliens, Alien3 and Alien Resurrection would seem to dispute this. In Aliens the bodies don't display signs of being eaten, as with the specimens on the Auriga. However, on Acheron the hosts could have had their insides eaten - something we can't see, plus we don't see every single dead colonist; and the Alien births on the Auriga were in a controlled enviroment - meaning the embryos were probably removed from direct contact to the hosts shortly after birth. In Alien3 the Alien born out of Spike had no immediate threats, yet retreated.
What the Dark Horse comics say : Yes. The Labyrinth comic has Dr Church saying an Alien specimen was starving and we later see it eating pig. So at the very least they dig on swine.
What the RPG says : Yes. They eat dirt and water to get to adult stage but only require an electrical current for sustenance when fully grown (the energy generated by a light breeze is sufficient). They only eat when fully grown to heal from injuries and to generate resin for hive creation.
What the CMTM says : Speculation about food being broken down directly by their blood.
The Network Interface does not seek to impose any opinions on fans, or pass off speculation as fact. It encourages fans to make up their own minds based on the data available, what they regard as canon (or the true events that occur in the Alien Universe) and any other ideas they may come up with. The Network Interface should not be viewed as an exhaustive source.
[Discuss in Forums]
All copyrights and trademarks belong to their respective owners. This site is for the promotion of selected material, no infringements are intended. All reasonable efforts have been taken to credit the respective owners and/or authors.