ALIEN: What Animal is the Creature Based On?

OK, the Alien is a complex animal. The stage when its a parasite upon its host (when its wrapped around the guy;s face)-what is it based on? It looks like a spider or scorpion of some kind.
Also, did they ever explain how the thing rows after leaving the host? I don’t recall it eating anybody, but it seemsto grow by several hundred times, after bursting out of the guy!

It’s appearance is based in H.R. Giger’s painting *Necronom IV *, due to it’s surreal sexual overtones.

The aliens do seem to eat. They are shown eating in Alien 3, and AvP: Requiem. The chestburster moves by two tiny arms halfway down its body, you can see them when one bursts out of a colonist in Aliens.

The facehugger’s design is based on a pair of fused hands. Originally it was meant to look like an octopus but Giger replaced the tentacles with finger-like extremities.

I can’t recall if they ever call them this in the movies, but the species are known as Xenomorphs.

In the first Alien film it grows by feeding on the stored blood plasma. It later appears they can take nutrition from the air, making gas into solid.

The animals’ shape is what is stated above, a design made up for its surreal and sexual overtones.

I always figured it inflated, then hardened its carapace, kind of like a moulting insect.

They certainly moult, since at least once Ripley found a discarded “skin” the Xeno left behind in an air duct - in Alien 3 IIRC.

Equus noctis, the Nightmare.

The Colonial Marines did refer to the creatures as Xenomorphs in Aliens.

My interpretation of this was that xenomorph (“other/strange form”) is the blanket term used by the Colonial Marines to refer to any sort of hostile or bothersome extraterrestrial organism.

Note that Alien is a Horror film, not an SF film. Thus the Monster has supernatural powers, not science based powers.

In Alan Dean Foster’s novelization, the critter breaks into the ship’s food storage locker, and guzzles the crew’s food supplies. Then, fully grown, it starts killing the humans.

Necronom IV

Cool! I think I’ll replace my baby bunny background wallpaper with this for awhile.

Um, that’s kind of a silly distinction. The powers are not supernatural, they are just mysterious.

The acidic blood, which is an acid of a type that is impossible given the laws of chemistry and physics.

Saw is a horror movie. What’s the supernatural aspect of that?

Ahh I guess you have a point there.

Yeah, I think you’re right. They descibe it as a xenomorph but it’s never refered to as THE Xenomorph. They’ve been on bug hunts before, per Private Hudson’s comments, so they’ve probably encountered other “other forms” before.

And isn’t stomach acid fairly strong? I know it’s a bit of a leap from stomach acid to acid in the veins that melts through everything on contact, but again, this is fiction.

No whole animal, only parts: it’s based on a penis and a vagina, with the former bursting out of the latter. I know it’s easy to overanalyse films for sexual sybolism, but this one’s pretty undeniable.

I assume xenomorphs can grow somewhat like the way mushrooms grow. They’re “born” with bodies made of some exotic chitin, with most of the cells already present. No cell division required. It’s more of a “just add water and let the shell balloon up and harden” kind of growth. A mushroom “fruit” can expand many times in size overnight that way.

It’s pretty clearly based on a human form. I think one of the ideas batted around when they were making the first Alien film was that it acquired a lot of its looks from its host (which would make me want to see what developed from that chaire-bound Navigator with the burst chest they found on the first alien ship in the original film). But I don’t know if that idea survived even in that film. They certainly ignored it in the sequels.

As for what creature it resembles in its habits, there are several wasps, such as the Tarantula Hawk, which immobilize their prey by stinging it, then lay eggs on the still-living body, where it acts as food for the young. Nature at its grossest. Stephen Jay Gould wrote a column on this, explicitly comparing it to the creature in Alien.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepsis_wasp
The idea, I strongly suspect, comes from Jerome Bixby’s 1950s film It! The Terror from Beyond Space with adds from Planet of Vampires and the laying-eggs-in-the-spaceman stolen from Night of the Blood Beast. The idea of the Alien Aboard the Starship, as well as the idea of Alien Planting its Eggs in the Spaceman were both first used, as far as I can tell, by A.E. VanVogt in his short stories “Black Destroyer” and “Discord in Scarlet”, which eventually both got bound teogether in his “fix-up” novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle. A lot of folks claim that Alien derives directly from van Vogt, but I don’t see it – the plots are completely diferent, while Alien resembles It! an awful lot. Bixy probably knew about van Vot’s stories, and lifted the general idea, but definitely remade it, if so.