Alien Species

(Updated as of 17/04/2019)

Hello discerning AvP fans, in this post I evaluate and suggest new nomenclature for the official names of several Xenomorph varieties as well as Xenomorph hive and caste dynamics that encompass the coordinated societal functions of all of the standard and auxiliary caste varieties that I have listed as canonical and which can be found categorized in section 6 of this post.

And be sure to see my comprehensive USCM arsenal list and cultural analysis on the Yautja, also any anime/mecha fans reading this might be interested in my posts regarding topics from the Gundam and Zoids franchises.

Comprehensive contents:

  1. Notes
  2. Xenomorph Name Changes
    1. Standard Xenomorph caste variants:
      1. Lurker → Venator
      2. Raven → Vanguard
      3. Subterranean Xenomorph → Fossorial Warrior
      4. Evolved Warrior → Adapted Warrior
      5. Royal Guard → Lictor
      6. Ravager → Phalanx
      7. Colossal Ravager → Heavy Phalanx
      8. Carrier → Pontifex
      9. Super Carrier → Heavy Pontifex
      10. War Empress → Imperatrix
    2. Xenomorphs Spawned From Nonhuman Hosts:
      1. Runner → Scout
      2. Crusher → Aries
    3. Altered Xenomorph Varieties:
      1. Spliced Xenomorphs → Weaponized Xenomorphs
      2. Smasher → Disabler
      3. Defender → Captor
      4. Arachnoid → Springer
      5. Razor Claws → Butcher
      6. Chrysalis → Penetrator
  3. Xenomorph Caste/Type Dynamics
    1. Standard/auxiliary castes
      1. Praetorian Egg/Facehugger
      2. Vanguard (Raven)
      3. Praetorian
      4. Queen
      5. → The unfeasibility of winged Xenomorph Queens
      6. King
    2. Altered Xenomorph varieties
      1. General Bush's engineered Xenomorphs
  4. Xenomorph Hive Dynamics
    1. Advanced territory/population castes
    2. War castes
  5. Xenomorph XX121 Provenance and Gender Classification
    1. Xenomorph provenance
    2. Xenomorph gender classification
  6. My Personal List of Canonical Xenomorph Varieties


  • Some Xenomorphs previously found in the Auxiliary Castes category are now listed as variants of or progressions from specific castes:
    • Venator (Lurker) → Drone variant: All characteristics of the Lurker point to it being a further development of the Drone.
    • Vanguard (Raven) → Drone / Venator (Lurker) variant: Several characteristics of the Vanguard (Raven) are similar to those of Drones / Venators (Lurkers).

Xenomorph Name Changes

I have changed the names of some Xenomorph varieties to better suit what I believe their function is and to be more closely aligned with preexisting nomenclature (Praetorian, Palatine etc.), especially as the names of some varieties sound crude and 'StarCrafty' whilst the names of others such as General Bush's engineered Xenomorphs just don't describe their function well or at all.

Standard Xenomorph caste variants

Official name Improved name Reasons for reevaluation
Lurker Venator This is a continuation of the usage of ancient Roman military terminology, with Venators being hunters, this reflects the ambush tactics of Lurkers as opposed to the mass assault tactics of Warriors.
Raven Vanguard I believe that the function of the Vanguard; despite being of a similar size and developing by a similar process; is inverse to that of the Praetorian, i.e instead of guarding the Xenomorph hive or rather the Queen in particular, the Vanguard is as its name might suggest, a hive outer-perimeter patrol/ambush type caste.
Subterranean Xenomorph Fossorial Warrior 'Fossorial' is improved terminology and the Xenomorph looks enough like a Warrior to use less ambiguous classification.
Evolved Warrior Adapted Warrior 'Adapted' is more correct than 'Evolved' in this sense, this variety could also feasibly include the Fossorial Warrior.
Royal Guard Lictor This is a continuation of the usage of ancient Roman terminology, with Lictors being bodyguards that were not as elite as the Praetorian Guard which in this usage is analogous to Royal Guard being juvenile Praetorians.
Ravager Phalanx This is a continuation of the usage of ancient military terminology, with a Phalanx being a defensive formation composed of heavy infantry and this being roughly analogous to a Ravager as it is the equivalent of several Warriors in terms of offensive and defensive capability.
Colossal Ravager Heavy Phalanx (See above)
Carrier Pontifex This is a continuation of the usage of ancient Roman terminology, with Pontifex (or Pontiff rather) being a high priest and since priests love to proselytise it is an appropriate name for the Carrier as it throws Facehuggers that impregnate enemy hosts and spawn Xenomorphs, which in this sense is roughly analogous to proselytism.
Super Carrier Heavy Pontifex (See above)
War Empress Imperatrix This is a continuation of the usage of ancient Roman military terminology, with Imperator being an honorific title assumed by successful military commanders in the Roman republic and also from which the word emperor is derived, so because a War Empress is a Xenomorph Queen that has undergone a combat adaptation, this is fitting terminology that also does not confuse the creature with a Xenomorph Empress which is quite different.

Xenomorphs spawned from nonhuman hosts

Official name Improved name Reasons for reevaluation
Runner Scout 'Scout' more correctly describes its aptitude.
Crusher Aries This is a continuation of the usage of ancient Roman military terminology and the word 'crusher' is not evocatively correct as the distinctive attack of the creature is to ram a target with its large head crest and break through obstacles like a battering ram (known in ancient Rome as an 'aries'), not crush something underfoot as its name would suggest.

Altered Xenomorph varieties

Official name Improved name Reasons for reevaluation
Spliced Xenomorphs Weaponized Xenomorphs 'Weaponized' is much more correct than 'spliced' which is too ambiguous of a word as it could be describing any kind of artificially hybridized Xenomorph, instead of those that have successfully been weaponized (Xenomorphs that can be directed to attack a target and that are not hostile toward their wielders).
Smasher Disabler Simlar in most aspects to a standard Warrior except in its preference for smashing into foes, this would likely be to assist with acquiring suitable hosts by incapacitation, rather than killing them outright and would likely work best in tandem with Captors.
Defender Captor As this variety is not only more well armoured than a standard warrior but also more bipedal, it was most likely designed to capture hosts whilst under heavy fire and would likely have been developed to work with Disablers in this role.
Arachnoid Springer An ambush variety similar to the standard Venator though with enhanced mobility in running speed and jump height hence 'Springer', as in 'to spring an amush' or to leap high as if assisted by powerful springs. This variety may not be as heavily armoured as standard Venators but with their greater jump height and speed they would be able to ambush effectively in a greater variety of environments and the Springer's high speed would also help ensure the success of an ambush as they would be able to run down fleeing prey more easily.
Razor Claws Butcher This variety is large, fast and has long powerful claws for brutal efficiency in mêlée combat, it was clearly designed as a shock assault berserker.
Chrysalis Penetrator As this variety is not only large and well armoured but also moves primarily by conglobate rolling, it can be assumed that it was developed for the purpose of quickly closing the distance between enemies wielding ranged weapons in open terrain and then smashing through battle lines and swiftly striking a seemingly out of reach target of interest (heavy weapons, officer etc.) with its extended headbite technique. In this way it can be seen as a type of assassin Xenomorph suitable for spearheading assaults in open terrain. In its roles as a large well armoured variety for spearheading assaults and breaking battle lines, the Penetrator is similar to the standard Phalanx, so its specialised role as an assassin may have been the primary intention when developing this variety, though it is possible it may also function in a similar way to Disablers by smashing into and incapacitating enemies whilst rolling instead of killing them outright, this may even be its primary purpose as a type of Disabler used in open terrain as its larger size, thicker armour and conglobate rolling locomotion would improve the host acquisition to Xenomorph death ratio.

Xenomorph Caste/Type Dynamics

Standard/auxiliary Xenomorph castes

  • Praetorian Egg/Facehugger: There is more than one way that Praetorians can occur within a Xenomorph hive, under normal circumstances other Xenomorph castes; such as Drones and Warriors; would metamorphose into Lictors and then Praetorians. However in the context of a Xenomorph hive defending against a dire threat, a quicker method of creating Praetorians may be necessary and this would be accomplished by the hive's Queen laying eggs containing Praetorian Facehuggers that impregnate hosts which would spawn Xenomorphs that then develop into a Praetorian more quickly than a Drone or Warrior would be able to metamorphose into one.
  • Vanguard (Raven): I believe that the function of the Vanguard (Raven) in a Xenomorph hive is inverse to that of a Praetorian, i.e instead of guarding the Xenomorph hive or rather the Queen in particular, the Vanguard's (Raven's) purpose is as a hive outer-perimeter patrol/ambush type caste. I reckon this as it has characteristics in common with Venators (Lurkers) which are an ambush caste and in Aliens: Colonial Marines it is encountered in an area beneath the Xenomorph hive proper, indicating to me that it was patrolling that area to ensure that the hive's three dimensional perimeter would not be breached from below and it would also probably function as a single organism instead of in groups like other castes.
  • Praetorian: Whilst Praetorians can metamorphose from castes such as Drones and Warriors, this can only occur when there is a Xenomorph Queen to direct them to do so and likely also secrete the royal jelly or similar substance that such a metamorphosis would require.
  • Queen: A Xenomorph Queen can only occur by being spawned from a host impregnated by a Royal Facehugger, they cannot metamorphose from any other caste except Praetorians which can only occur with a Queen anyway. This is certain as it is fundamental to the hunting practises of the Yautja that they know exactly how many Xenomorphs would be spawned in an area they have seeded with ovomorphs to prevent a Xenomorph infestation as the result of a failed hunt etc. from 'xenoforming'/destroying an entire ecosystem or even continent. The Yautja have technology able to detect Royal Facehugger eggs laid by captive Xenomorph Queens and destroy or seperate them from the ovomorphs they do use to seed an area for Xenomorph hunting. Though of course there would be 'wild' Xenomorph Queens and also specific hunts where the Yautja would have seeded an area with a Queen Xenomorph so that a Queen hunt could occur, though obviously the hunting party would know exactly how to go about doing so as to prevent a Xenomorph population overspill beyond what they would be able to contain, such as using islands or regions isolated by vast barren areas with no suitable host species/nourishment etc. as hunting grounds.
    • The unfeasibility of winged Xenomorph Queens: Whilst there have been a few winged Xenomorph Queens featured in the expanded universe, the liklihood of a Xenomorph Queen developing a winged or rather a flight capable morphology is unlikely as the primary purpose of a Xenomorph Queen is to become a large and mostly immobile egg-layer, defended by Praetorians and ministered to by Drones who also construct the hive proper which is itself defended primarily by Warriors. So it is clear that there is little reason for a Xenomorph Queen to develop a flight capable morphology as under natural circumstances it is rare for a Xenomorph Queen to do something other than lay eggs, such as defending the hive etc. and in such an instance it would usually undergo a relatively minor physiological combat adaptation (thickened carapace etc.) and develop into an Imperatrix. It is possible and even likely that the Queen caste was purposely designed to remain largely unaffected by the DNA reflex (see also the 'purebreed' and 'transbreed' Xenomorph classification mentioned in Aliens versus Predator: Extinction) that determines a significant proportion of the morphology in lesser castes, this may be so that the potency of the 'pure' Xenomorph strain is not gradually altered by successive generations of Xenomorph Queens featuring varying morphology due to the type of host creature of either the Queen Chestburster or the metamorphosing Praetorian etc. Though I don't see how the Ovomorph stage could simply have been designed to remain unchanged regardless of the Queen's morphology so this is all still conjecture.
  • King: As Xenomorph Kings are only known to be found in the largest hives, they would most likely spawn/metamorphose under conditions similar to those that would necessitate an Empress. So under normal hive territory/population development conditions the Xenomorph King would be spawned/metamorphosed some time after an Empress as the Empress caste is more relevant to the dynamics of an expanding Xenomorph hive, with the King being more of a territorial consolidation / aggressive expansion caste due to its immense and readily available combat capability.

Altered Xenomorph varieties

  • General Bush's engineered Xenomorphs: These five varieties of engineered Xenomorphs would have been developed to lessen the two primary weaknesses of Xenomorphs and build on one of their strengths, these two weaknesses are the capture of enough suitable hosts by causing as less fatalities as possible during the host acquisition phase (Disabler, Captor and possibly Penetrator) and the susceptibility of Xenomorphs to ranged weapons over open terrain (Penetrator), with the strength being their aptitude for ambushes and shock assaults (Springer and Butcher). Also whilst three of these engineered varieties feature colours other than black, dark blue or grey, it would be best if only the Butcher has a different coloured carapace, with it being bright red (it's already pink anyway) to augment its ability to shock its enemies in a similar fashion to how the ninja of feudal Japan were known to wear bright red coloured outerwear at night as the colour red appears as black in a dark environment and this was particularly effective when attacking enemies around a campfire etc. as the sudden appearance of a sword-wielding assailant garbed in bright red could stun enemies and make them easier targets.

Xenomorph Hive Dynamics

Advanced territory/population castes

There are five Xenomorph castes that only occur when a hive has a large enough population/territory and on such a scale these five castes; throughout a normal hive development process; would occur in this order.

  • Lictor
  • Praetorian
  • Vanguard
  • Empress
  • King

War castes

War castes are Xenomorph castes that are only spawned/metamorphosed when a Xenomorph hive is either defending itself against a dire threat or expanding into territory with strong resistance such as human military.

  • Early life cycle war castes:
    • Praetorian Egg*
    • Hyperfertile Egg*
    • Praetorian Facehugger*
  • Adult war castes:
    • Venator
    • Adapted Warrior
    • Phalanx
    • Heavy Phalanx
    • Pontifex*
    • Heavy Pontifex*
    • Imperatrix*

**These Xenomorphs are spawned/metamorphosed to quickly bolster numbers whilst in defense of a hive, rather than during aggressive expansion.

Xenomorph XX121 Provenance and Gender Classification

Xenomorph provenance

My perspective on the provenance of Xenomorph XX121 (Linguafoeda acheronsis or Internecivus raptus) is simply that they are bioweapons and/or a terraforming agent that were created by the Mala'kak thousands of years ago.

Though more speculation on their likely use as a terraforming agent is necessary, I would say that the ultimate purpose of Xenomorph XX121 is that once a large enough area has been terraformed by them, the Mala'kak would set their spacecraft down and conceal it beneath or near the surface that has been covered by the hive webbing and their spacecraft would be camouflaged due to the similarity in design (and the Mala'kak would probably also like the aesthetics too.

Their biotechnology would also likely be able to interface with the hive webbing in perhaps at least a signal/sensory/stealth etc. amplification capacity and it is also possible that once interfaced with a Xenomorph hive in this way they may be able to exert some amount of control over their bioweapon/terraforming agent Xenomorph XX121 by way of using the hive webbing as a psychic signal amplifier etc.

This method of terraforming would essentially create an environment that not only effectively hides their spacecraft and biotechnology from sensors etc. but also features extremely potent defenses against intrusion in the form of a surrounding Xenomorph hive.

Xenomorph gender classification

And I prefer to view the Xenomorph gender topic from a purely functional perspective, meaning; in terms only of the polarity of known Xenomorph reproductive processes; that I would classify all Xenomorphs as genderless except for the Queen, which I would describe as asexual and not female (since it does not require a male or anything other than its own physiology in order to reproduce), with facehuggers being male as to reproduce they require another organism to impregnate.

An exception to this is the juvenile Predalien Queen from Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem which I would describe as male since it was only ever known to reproduce by directly impregnating another. Though ultimately it was probably an asexual male, presuming it was also capable of oviparity like a regular Xenomorph Queen.

  • Queen: Asexual
  • Facehugger: Male
  • AVP:R Predalien Queen: Male or asexual male
  • All other Xenomorphs: Genderless

Caste Gender polarity
Queen ↓ Asexual
Facehugger ↓ Male
Drone etc. Genderless

My Personal List of Canonical Xenomorph Varieties

This list covers every Xenomorph variety; beyond the basic stages of the creature's life cycle (Ovomorph, Facehugger, Chestburster, Drone, Warrior, Praetorian and Queen); that has ever appeared in any sort of official media from the Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator franchises that I interpret as being canonical or canonically feasible creatures.

For a complete list of every Xenomorph variety from official media (including those that I have deemed noncanonical) see my other post.

These Xenomorph varieties are categorized into three primary distinctions with subsequent secondary and tertiary etc. distinctions:

Due to limitations of wiki HTML's word processing features, some Xenomorph varieties are are not listed as branching subcategories and whose positions are instead indicated by a '→' (though they are shown listed in the intended format in the contents list on my original blog post and varieties that are listed more than once do not feature links.)

1. Expanded Universe Xenomorph Castes

  1. Standard Xenomorph caste variants
  2. Early life cycle
    1. Ovomorph
      1. Praetorian Egg
      2. Royal Facehugger Egg
      3. Hyperfertile Egg
    2. Facehugger (Manumala noxhydria)
      1. Praetorian Facehugger
      2. Royal Facehugger
    3. Chestburster
      1. Queen Chestburster
  3. Adult castes
    1. Drone
      1. Venator
      2. Vanguard
    2. Warrior
      1. Fossorial Warrior
      2. Adapted Warrior
    3. Praetorian
      1. Lictor
      2. Phalanx
      3. Heavy Phalanx
      4. Pontifex
      5. Heavy Pontifex
    4. Queen
      1. Imperatrix
      2. Empress
      3. Queen Mother
      4. Palatine
  4. Auxiliary Xenomorph castes
    1. King

2. Xenomorphs Spawned From Nonhuman Hosts

  1. Xenomorphs Spawned From Sentient Extraterrestrials
    1. Yautja
      1. Predalien
    2. Mala'kak
      1. Jockey-Xenomorph
      2. Aliens: Apocalypse
      3. Aliens: Infestation
      4. Ultramorph — Unused concept
  2. Xenomorphs Spawned From Animals
    1. Terrestrial
      1. Quadruped
      2. Quadruped — Praetorian
      3. Quadruped — Queen
      4. Various terrestrial animals (PCW9512)
      5. Various terrestrial animals (LV-223)
      6. Melanistic puma
      7. Panther (jaguar, leopard or puma)
      8. Wild boar
      9. Bovine
      10. Rhinocerotid
      11. Chimpanzee
      12. Gorilla
      13. Gorilla — Praetorian
      14. Tetrabrachial ape (Zeevan)
      15. Tetrabrachial ape (Zeevan) — Queen
      16. Blue Moon centipede (giant extraterrestrial centipede species)
    2. Aquatic
      1. Crocodilian
      2. Megafaunal achelate pleocyematan (giant clawless crustacean, Bracken's World)
    3. Flight capable
      1. Megafaunal chiropteran (giant bat)
      2. Winged animal
      3. Winged animal (LV-223)
      4. Winged animal — Queen
      5. Winged animal — Empress

3. Altered Xenomorph Varieties

  1. Mutant Xenomorphs
    1. Naturally occurring mutations
      1. Red Xenomorphs
      2. Pink Ovomorph
      3. Bodyburster
  2. Genetically Engineered Xenomorphs
    1. Weaponized Xenomorphs
      1. Prof. Ernst Kleist's Spliced Xenomorphs
      2. The Rogue
      3. Dr. Catherine Fortune's Spliced Xenomorphs
    2. Dr. Samuel Kadinsky's engineered Xenomorphs
      1. K-Series
      2. Predalien Queen
    3. General Bush's engineered Xenomorphs
      1. Disabler
      2. Captor
      3. Springer
      4. Butcher
      5. Penetrator
    4. Grant Corporation Station 13's engineered Xenomorphs
      1. Flying octopodal Queen
  3. Hybrid Xenomorphs
    1. The Rogue
    2. Predalien Queen