Aliens, Unlimited

Watching Prometheus this past weekend got me thinking about movie aliens. I get annoyed at how humanoid they tend to be. There are exceptions (Prometheus has one, which I won’t spoil for you) but on the whole, Hollywood alien morphology is rather predictable.

I understand why aliens were human-ish back when actual people had to wear the costume and attack Sigourney Weaver. I appreciate that. But now that creature effects are usually digital (which makes me a little sad, actually), we are not limited to prosthetics that must fit onto a human actor’s body, and the xenomorphs need not so resemble us.

You don’t even have to create completely novel forms: there is plenty of inspiration to be found in the animal kingdom outside of our phylum (which is chordata, if you’re talking notes (and it’s still chordata if you’re not taking notes, as it turns out)).

Here are some basic animal body plans that have been rather overlooked as alien schematics:

Porifera: sponges!

Radiata: animals with radial symmetry, like jellies

Molluscs are animals with soft bodies and hard shells, such as clams, snails, and octopuses. I think tentacles are pretty standard alien protrusions, so I’ll go with a shell-fish-style alien.

Echinodermata is a weird phylum that includes sea stars, sea cucumbers, and urchins. There is plenty of alien inspiration here.

And don’t feel limited to animals. There are plenty of bizarre living things in other kingdoms. Look to ye plants and ye fungus, perhaps even ye bacteria.

And now, I will attempt to draw a totally novel alien, taking no inspiration from earthly vertebrate species.

How’d I do?

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10 replies
  1. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    Aliens from books are more diverse. The Aliens in the Ender’s game series (and also in Starship Troopers) are bug form based.

  2. Becca
    Becca says:

    “creature effects are usually digital (which makes me a little sad, actually)”
    Yes. I am dismayed the career path “dress up as alien and attack Sigourney Weaver” is not available anymore.

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