Xenomorph, or "the alien", is without a doubt one of the most original and complex alien species of all time.
In every stage of its life cycle it demonstrates what a superb organism it is. The xenomorph is both exceptionally lethal as well as incredibly adaptable to any host and environment.
In the course of its life cycle it co-opts the DNA strands of its host and combines them with its own. The range of its victims runs from terrestrial, canine and human, to extra-terrestrial, Space Jockey, Predator.
It seems perfectly capable to survive in just about any environment from rugged wind-swept landscape of LV-426 to arctic wastes on Earth. Though it does seem to have a penchant for warm and moist places, such as the inside of an alien ship or a human colony heat exchange unit.
Its resilience, as well as the ability to survive without food - once it has left the host the alien would appear to live on without food or eating!!! - points to the possibility that the creature is artificially designed.
Perhaps the Space Jockey, or the Predator, or any specimen of the two respective alien species could weigh in on this as they seem well acquainted with this killer. Either way, it would make a great movie explaining the origins of the xenomorph.
And though the alien is deadly efficient and absolutely relentless it is not unstoppable or invincible. It can be killed by firearms, steel weapons such as spears or javelins (superior alien technology helps a lot!), fire, and even in hand-to-hand combat by a creature powerful enough to overcome such a formidable adversary.
So for all the superior qualities, the xenomorph is not a supernatural being! It is first and foremost a living thing. An alien life form made plausible by the logic of the genre.
Let's start with the last.
There are several distinct types of the adult xenomorph.
The creature from the now classic movie Alien is the quintessential xenomorph which provided basis for all consecutive models.
It has erect posture and four limbs, and though it mostly relies on its powerful hind legs for walking, and uses the front extremities mostly for holding things, and attack, it also shows instances of crawling and creeping along walls, and especially huddling into the ship's nooks and crannies. Generally, its ability to blend into the ship's bulkheads and pipes is one of the creepiest things about it.
The smooth bone plate covers its elongated hammer-like head. The creature also has a pair exceptionally strong back limbs, and long segmented tail with a scorpion-like sting at the tip.
It later incarnations the sting will be replaced with a blade-like barb tapered on its end and broad at the base.
The alien has a ribbed exoskeleton which covers its chest, and, likely the most spectacular organ of all, its trademark secondary jaw, which is retractable and armed with two rows of teeth.
The secondary jaw is so powerful that it can punch through muscle, bone, and even a face plate of a predator warrior.
The creature salivates profusely and excretes some kind of resin which it uses to great effect in building a hive or to cocoon its prey - these two characteristics first show up in the next incarnation of the organism.
It has dorsal tube-like bone structures the purpose of which is completely unknown to me. It seems to me they could be more of an impediment in narrow halls and air shafts of which the creature appears to be particularly fond of; however, these skeletal appendages are retained in each but one installment of the movie.
The only logical explanation is that these tube-like protrusions function as protection against attack from the back. They could hamper or at least temporarily keep at bay any attacker which would choose to sneak up on the adult xenomorph.
In Aliens the warrior alien makes its first appearance under that name. Its primary function is to protect the queen and eggs. The warrior alien is basically the Scott alien with the exception of a slightly more streamlined sleeker look, or so it seems to me.
The head, for instance, would appear to be slightly more elongated and the jaw narrower than in the previous incarnation, though the head bone is visibly more textured. The rationale is that the older the xenomorph gets the more rugged and textured the head bone becomes.
The head, exoskeleton, tail, posture, limbs. It is all here. However, there are a few novel characteristics.
Apparently all warrior aliens function in a hive-like fashion and are controlled by the Queen. That is a novelty compared to Alien. And it is not the only one.
The warrior aliens in the Cameron movie demonstrate a rather peculiar trait, and a deadly one too. They seem to function tactically not only instinctively. They cut off the power supply and negotiate the obstacles thrown in their way by the besieged Marines.
Another thing of interest is that, unlike the creature in Alien, which kills the entire crew of the Nostromo, and never shows the urge to keep the humans live for impregnation – actually it does, but the sequences of cocooned victims in Alien were excised from the theatrical cut! - in Aliens the warrior aliens almost invariably overcome their human victims and then go on to cocoon them ensuring the next generation will have fresh hosts handy.
Aliens is the first time we see lots of xenomorph together, staving off intruders and attacking in group, so we get to glean certain facts about their language.
Mostly they communicate through high-pitched shrieks and snarls, though touch also seems to play part in their communication as they often huddle together every time they seem to be "discussing" the immediate course of action.
"Killer alien" is third incarnation of the grown xenomorph. As a matter of fact, Ellen Ripley calls the xenomorph which shows up in Alien3 "killer" when she observes that the alien is different from the creatures she met earlier - this one goes through its victims without ever attempting to subdue them, and cocoon them for the next generation, which is something its predecessors never did.
“Killer alien” gestated in a dog which belonged to one of the inmates of the penal colony. In its posture and movements it resembles a quadruped though when it sprints along the corridors of the penal colony it assumes somewhat erect posture.
It lacks the dorsal tube-like skeleton from the previous incarnations. However, once it detects the queen embryo, it pretty much follows in the footsteps of its predecessors and goes on to unreservedly protect it even at the cost of its own life.
The alien from Alien: Resurrection movie is the last incarnation of the xenomorph to date. It originated from the recovered cells of Ellen Ripley and has gestated in a human host so in a sense both its parents were human. That humanoid trait mostly comes across in its ability to think tactically, in an even more prominent way than its counterpart from the Cameron movie.
It outmaneuvers its human opponents on a number of occasions using the installations and complex technical systems of the Auriga spaceship against them.
The xenomorph in Alien: Resurrection also shows the ability to spit "acid" at the face of its opponents, which is a novelty since up to that point "acid for blood" has been used mostly as a defense mechanism. Here is the first instance in the series that "acid for blood" is used in attack mode too.
The alien type 4 is interesting in another respect. For the first time in the series the warrior aliens kill one of their own kind in order to gain advantage over their human captors. It seems that crossing the xenomorph with the human made the alien species even more aggressive and deadly.
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