Alien: Covenant
What is a Xenomorph? My hypothesis on the classification of the species.

What is a Xenomorph? My hypothesis on the classification of the species.

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PraetorianMember4201 XPApr-05-2018 11:46 AM

The Alien Movies, Comic Books, Toys, and Games have painted a picture on what a xenomorph should look like. 

I'm going to go on an in-depth analysis on what is a xenomorph.

First lets get what is a true xenomorph out the way. The name xenomorph, even if it was a wastebasket name, was given to the titular creature by Lt. Gorman and since has been the creature's name throughout the Expanded Universe. This name was given to the creatures on LV-426, there for all xenomorphs who originated on LV-426 are true xenomorphs.

From Big Chap/Drone to Bug Stomper/Warrior and the First Acheron Queen to Dragon/Runner (Dog/Ox Alien) are what I like to call "baseline Xenomorphs".

If we think of the xenomorphs under a single genus and species, baseline xenomorphs would be the sole surviving member of its species as of 2179, the time of its unofficial naming. Any deviations outside of the xenomorph species natural hybridization ability can be consider as different species or subspecies, depending on the greater physiological changes from the core xenomorph physiology.

Offshoot 1: The Red Army Xenomorphs from the comics are depicted as a natural mutation, physically they resemble a baseline xenomorph from the Alien trilogy, except they have red exoskeletons rather than black exoskeletons.

Offshoot 2: The Clone Xenomorphs from Alien Resurrection are depicted as an unnatural hybrid of human and xenomorph genome, due to cloning of Ellen Ripley's blood sample. The Clones are physically different from their baseline ancestors, their heads are more cigar shaped, they have a more pronounced chin, they have a bladed thagomizer accompanied by elongated tail spikes, rather than a stinger accompained by smaller and uniformed length tail spikes.

Offshoot 3: The Protomorphs/Planet 4 Xenomorphs from Alien Covenant are if we go with David's origin of the species, the direct ancestor of the baseline Xenomorph species. If we go with the Engineer origin of the species, then the Planet 4 Xenomorph would just be an unnatural decedent of the baseline xenomorph, much like the clone xenomorphs.

Offshoot 4: The AVP xenomorphs resemble heavily like the Clone Xenomorphs. I keep getting commentors on all the Alien lore videos i comment on: claiming these xenomorphs achieved convergent evolution to merely look like the clone xenos. I on the other hand have two hypothesis on this matter: If we go with David's origins, then these creatures are not only excluded from being a xenomorph  species but are ejected from being part of the same genus and therefore cannot not be labeled as xenomorphs.

However this would still mean they are a type of Xenomorphid, just not true Xenomorphs because the Predators would of had to gain access to the black goo and created their own xenomorphoid and thus were not the same creatures encountered on Lv-426.

However again, if we go with the baseline xenomorphs were of Engineer origin than the AVP Xenomorphs would be just as much of a xenomorph as lets say as the Clone and David's variants.



14 Responses to What is a Xenomorph? My hypothesis on the classification of the species.


TrilobiteMember9516 XPApr-05-2018 12:11 PM


First of all, forget AvP and its dire sequel, they were retconned out of continuity by Prometheus.

As for the question I view the Xenomorph as a non-pedigree creature. Humans are humans, canines are canines and birds are birds. Most animals, regardless of genus procreate and evolve their genome towards an evolutionary constant, with beneficial traits become dominant over recessive ones. Faster, stronger, more intelligent, etc.

The Xenomorph exists by adopting and subverting the DNA of its host and incorporating that into its genome. As such, there is no such thing as a pure Xenomorph, just the dominant genetic traits inherent in all Xenomorph hybrids, such as their exoskeletal appearance, their acidic blood and their need for hosts to propagate.

Therefore the Xenomorph is and always has been a parasitoid.


PraetorianMember4201 XPApr-05-2018 7:15 PM

Your views on Evolution is flawed, evolution doesn't churn out things to be smarter, stronger, faster. Evolution just allows creatures the right devices to survive.

You also miss understand my points. I am well aware that AVP is non-canon but for the sake of classification i had to include them. 

But still the xenomorph are given a scientific name and is still an organism. As an organism, even as an artificial one; it still has a genus and species, it procreates, and it even has self preservation instincts.

Humans are not simply humans, we evolved from more basal humans who in turn evolved from even basal humans and so on and so forth before we get to the last common ancestor of later Australopithecus and Homo, several generations prior to the more earlier memebers of Australopithecus, in which the genus homo has arisen from, we have the last common ancestor of humans (both Homo and Australopithecus) and chimps.

If I had time I would of included the entire Xenomorphid family tree. I know the xenomorphs are not a natural occurring species but the closest thing they have to biological relatives are the creations from the Accelerant/Black Goo. So disregarding AVP, which I am more than happy to do; David used the black goo on Planet 4, in his quest to destroy the engineers, the black goo ended up creating the neomorphs. David of coarse modifies several Neomorph specimens until he was able to make his protomorph ovamorph and in return birth his protomorph. So by classification, that would put the Neomorph and Protomorph as a type of Xenomorphid. Being artifical species the Xenomorphids (Neomorph, Protomorph, and Xenomorphs) needs davids help to evolve but left to their own devices, i believe the xenomorph could eventually naturally evolve without David's assistance.


Also Xenomorphs don't assimilate its host into their DNA pool, their own DNA mimics its host's DNA.



TrilobiteMember8212 XPApr-05-2018 8:56 PM

AVP can be canon. AVPR should be shot out of a canon.




PraetorianMember4201 XPApr-05-2018 9:00 PM

Both AVP movies are non-canon to the Alien Movies because they contradict Prometheus and Alien Covenant which are currently serving as Alien Prequels.



TrilobiteMember8212 XPApr-05-2018 9:03 PM

Negative. Canon is an individual decision. S.M. solved that question a long time ago. It can be movies, literature, games etc. You did so yourself by listing off shoots.


PraetorianMember4201 XPApr-05-2018 9:25 PM

Well I was using the AVP xenomorphs and the Red Army xenomorphs as examples even though they are non-canonical. The point of this article wasn't what is canonical or not. Its more to appeal to the broader Alien franchise as a whole.



TrilobiteMember8212 XPApr-05-2018 9:38 PM

If they are non-canocical as you say, it seems pointless to use them as examples.

 Its more to appeal to the broader Alien franchise as a whole.

Those movies, books and games do just that.


TrilobiteMember9516 XPApr-05-2018 10:29 PM

@ D.K., unless officially stated otherwise I have always held that the canon of whatever franchise follows in the same media as the original piece. Alien is a movie, so the movies are canon. Books, comics, video games etc. are extended universe, fan fiction unless stated otherwise. If you want to believe in personal canon that's fine, but I think it's ignorant to do so. Alien has a fanbase but Blomkamp wanted to bypass it because to him it wasn't canon.


@ Xenotaris,

Just because I didn't write a TLDR post doesn't mean I don't get evolution; I was merely paraphrasing.

As for the Xenomorph, let's be clear we do not know whether it mimics its host's DNA or not, as you claim. But taking what we know of the black goo - which imprints or combines the DNA of the Xenomorph with whatever it contaminates; as evidenced in Prometheus and Covenant, my money would be that the Xenomorph uses the DNA of the host with the DNA present within the embryo implanted by the Facehugger creating a hybrid of the two within which the Xenomorph DNA is dominant. Alien 3's Dogburster is perfect evidence of this.

As for your belief that the Xenomorph could have evolved without Davids assistance, I agree and severely hope so. For me, the Xenomorph is an ancient organism that though artificially created was designed to be self-sufficient within the right environment, that of one with an ample supply of hosts. For me, what David did on Paradise has already happened, likely numerous times throughout the galaxy without intervention, as it was designed to do so. So for me, David didn't create the Alien, he merely recreated it by logically inevitable chance.


PraetorianMember4201 XPApr-06-2018 7:31 AM


Well what i meant by calling the Xenomorphs featured on Lv-426 as True/Baseline Xenomorph was that since the alien trilogy came first in the franchise, weather David created them or they were ancient creations of the Engineers (I am in support of both theories). I have never stated that there was a Pure Xenomorph bloodline, i was stating the xenomorphs from the alien trilogy are what Xenomorphs are supposed to look like.



DeaconMember10416 XPApr-06-2018 7:56 AM

I think Canon is a personal choice,  Ultimate Canon i would say is what we are shown in the Movies Alone, and so i think AVP has to be counted as a Alternative story using the Xenomorph but in NO-WAY connects to the Xenomorphs in ALIEN, but just a Alternative Universe take on them.

With Alien and AVP, we never get a clear picture of the Xenomorph Origins, they are still SHROUDED in Mystery, we dont get any idea they was discovered and then used by the Predators and Space Jockey or if they was created/engineered by the Predators or Space Jockey.

The Organisms when looking at them and IGNORING the Prequels, while not giving us any real Evidence to their Origins, we do get the impression this Organism is as GAVIN said Parasitic in its Nature, they require a HOST to Gestate their Embryo's and these Embryo's appear to take on the BEST Traits of their Hosts, while carrying over the Majority Traits of the Xenomorph Organism.

The Logical Reason for this, is that doing so ensures the Xenomorph becomes suitable for the Environment it is now in, and THUS a Embryo inside of a SHARK we could assume would not end up a Bi-Pedal Organism, but one with many Shark Traits so it can survive and move around in the Water Environment of the Shark.

We can only Safely Assume this however as we have not Officially been shown a Xenomorph born from a Shark....

As far as Evolution, its a Process of a Organism adapting the best traits for Survival in its Environment, Environmental Changes will cause Mutations/Evolution over periods of time so that Organisms will adapt to the New Environment, during this process some Organisms may not Evolve to suit the Environment and will suffer/die out as part of Natural Selection.

The PREQUELS open up a new Direction and ways to look at the Xenomorph, as Now we have confirmation that the Organism is a Result of the Black Goo on LV-223 and that connection is established even since the drafts for a Alien Prequel...  But Alien Covenant goes further by now showing its connection is that the Black Goo Predates the Xenomorph.

I can try and explain the Black Goo, but this would derail the thread a bit and its a case of TWO views on the Goo i would propose.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


PraetorianMember4201 XPApr-06-2018 8:21 AM


Well I wasn't denying all the hybridization process I'm just saying that the baseline xenomorph is what we Humans (in-universe) have discovered and by using the scientific community's naming convention. The Xenomorphs we discovered on Lv-426 in 2179 is what we humans called a Xenomorph, as in we gave them a name since it was prior to the release of the prequels, was an unknown organism. Unless of coarse the Weyland-Yutani Corporation starts calling them Xenomorph XX121 prior to Gorman's statement. 

What I mean by baseline was what we encountered in the alien trilogy.



DeaconMember10416 XPApr-06-2018 8:51 AM

Totally understand...  i was not trying to suggest you was not  denying all the hybridization process ;)

I think the Xenomorph was  name just pulled out by Cameron, and Xenomorph just basically translates to ALIEN-FORM to a degree anything Alien to Earth could be called a Xenomorph.. but in context to the Organisms in the Franchise its what has Stuck for us, and only since the W-Y Report that it was given a designation XX-121

The Alien Franchise did leave the Mystery of its Origins...  The True Origins of the Xenomorph was something ever evolving since its inception with Star Beast.

Prior to the Prequels all we could gain is that the Organism on the Derelict was something the Space Jockey Race had as a Cargo.  The questions raised would be.

*Was this a Organism encountered the Space Jockey was trying to take away for research and experiments (this is similar to the Space Jockey in Star Beast).

*Was this a Organism the Space Jockey had Engineered/Created and if so was it from Scratch, or something Engineered from something else they encountered (this is what Alien Engineers had shown us).

Prometheus kind of went the 2nd route but kept it vague.....

Alien Covenant well this kind of made a bit of a mess of it all to be honest.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


FacehuggerMember357 XPApr-06-2018 3:36 PM

I find this to be a highly interesting discussion and one that has certainly got me thinking. My own take on all of this is a little bit different. (maybe)

As Big Dave has pointed out, the meaning behind the word Xenomorph comes from the Greek translation of ALIEN-FORM. The word “Xenomorph” itself does not denote any clue to function or some type of species, such as woodpecker or lesser crested gob****e. It is just a noun to describe something, but what exactly is that something?

From the entire franchise (to the best of my knowledge) a xenomorph is an offspring which results in the death of the creature giving birth to it. Though not a traditional birth as such.The Xenomorph is an outcome. I don’t really consider it to be a parasite because it gestates in a manner that treats its host as its mother. So for me the Xenomorph itself is nothing more than an end result/product.

The facehugger on the other hand, I would class as a parasite. And one that utilizes its hosts DNA to create its offspring. It’s the facehugger that I would consider bestowing a title such as species onto it. The facehugger has been shown to be the common element and precursor to whatever xenomorph emerges. The big difference with the facehugger of course, is that it is not exactly species specific when looking for a host and would appear happy with any port in a storm. I think when it comes to looking a classification, the facehugger should be the real starting point.

Alien Covenant has shown that motes are a subtly different delivery system when compared to a facehugger, and as such we see that the offspring is different. Prometheus, imo plays around with the mechanisms, but generally the delivery system is equal to the facehugger, but because the trilobite is the impregnator, the outcome is a little different and in the form of the deacon. The overall dna delivery system and birthing procedure are what I think places things within a newly defined form of classification, and the term xenomorph should be held as a descriptive noun for what it is. That being the outcome/end result, manifestation of an organism being facehugged.

BTW I like the idea of a xenoshark.


PraetorianMember4201 XPAug-02-2018 2:52 AM


Well I consider the facehugger as being the larval stage of the xenomorph, since the queen or a lone adult xenomorph is laying or eggmorphing xenomorph eggs containing facehuggers rather than chestbursters. I like to think of the xenomorph as the unofficial name of the creature, until a proper name is given in its place. Its ability to natural hybridize is just a unique feature for this "species".

But on that note: How much of its host DNA it is "borrowing" vs the rest of its DNA being "pure"

A: It copies its host genes that only appear in the post-pupa (chestburster-adult) stages but do not transfer into the next generation of xenomorphs

B: It copies its host genes and are assimilated into the xenomorph's genepool to where it can carry said genes to the next generation.


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