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Xenomorph blood

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"I haven't seen anything like that except molecular acid."
"It must be using it for blood."
"It's got a wonderful defense mechanism. You don't dare kill it."
Dallas, Brett and Parker, regarding Xenomorph blood (from Alien)
Alien-acid-for-blood11

The acidic effect of Xenomorph blood

Xenomorph blood is a highly acidic substance that can burn through virtually any material in short order. Using potent acid for blood is Xenomorph XX121's primary defense mechanism, and one of the species' most recognizable physical attributes.

PurposeEdit

Xenomorph acidic blood is primarily a passive defense mechanism; while it does not pose a threat directly, killing or harming an Alien with any attack that breaks the skin will cause the acid to spill, potentially harming the attacker or, as would be the case on a starship, breaching a vessel's hull.[1] This makes killing even a single Xenomorph a difficult proposition if only conventional projectile weapons are available, especially when encountered on board a starship.

Despite its typically passive nature, certain castes of Xenomorph have evolved to use their acid blood in a more offensive manner. Warriors, for example, have developed a highly pressurised bloodstream that can cause them to physically explode if sufficiently damaged, showering the surrounding area in acid.[2] Boilers intentionally use a similar process as a means of attack, rushing targets before suicidally rupturing their bodies and fatally drenching their victims in blood.[3] The Drone and Runner castes have been shown to possess the ability to spit their blood at targets, although the quantity is small and consequently this means of attack is normally used to wound and disable targets rather than kill them.[4][5] The spitting ability is used more aggressively by Praetorians and Spitters, which are capable of spitting lethal quantities of their blood significant distances, giving them a dangerous ranged attack other Xenomorphs do not possess.[6][3]

Xenomorphs also use their blood in more tactical ways. Facehuggers have the ability to secrete small quantities of their blood in order to burn through obstructions and gain access to hosts.[1][4] Similarly, fully grown Xenomorphs are shown to have an understanding of their blood's properties beyond simply spitting it at victims, and have been known to deliberately mutilate or even kill each other in order to use these properties to overcome obstacles.[5][7] Eggs have been known to forcefully spray acid from any incisions made in their outer skin by way of defence, in order to deter, disable or kill whatever may be responsible.[8] One slightly more outlandish theory, proposed by Weyland-Yutani scientists, is that the acidic blood may play a role in how the Xenomorphs digest their food, similar to some insect species.[9]

CompositionEdit

Xenomorph blood is a molecular acid.[2] While incredibly potent, it quickly oxidises in air and is subsequently rendered neutral.[1] It is typically a dull yellow in color, occasionally with hints of green. While generally accepted as the creature's blood (and typically described as such), some have suggested that, at least at the Facehugger stage, the acid is not blood but rather a defensive fluid maintained under pressure between a double layer of skin.[10]

The exact composition of the the Xenomorph's acid blood remains a mystery, with it's incredibly corrosive properties no doubt limiting the degree to which it may be studied. However, it has been theorized that the blood could be some type of "hydrosulfuric" or hydrochloric acid composition due to its corrosiveness and its conspicuously toxic effects on living human tissue. It has also been proposed that the Aliens are immune to their own acidic blood due to an endobiological build-up, similar to the human stomach's ability to protect itself from its own digestive fluids.[11] It has also been theorized that the blood is fluorine-based,[12] and that the Xenomorph's protection system against its own toxic acid is essentially a bio-organically produced Teflon insulation within its body, since polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or Teflon), being a fluorine-based compound, does not react with hydrofluoric acid.[11] It is known that Xenomorph chitin is resistant to the acid even after it has been removed from a dead Xenomorph.[7]

Other theories include the possibility of the blood being a fluorocarbon or chlorofluorocarbon compound; this would serve to explain why Xenomorphs that have been set alight will sometimes explode violently, as fluorocarbons are incredibly reactive with fire.[9] Another suggestion proposes that the blood may be comparable to a bio-organic battery and that it is the source of the Xenomorph's energy, although how the creatures may "recharge" this battery remains a mystery.[9]

Defense Against Xenomorph BloodEdit

While Xenomorph acid is notoriously corrosive, it seems there are at least some materials that can resist it. Most notably, much Predator technology is constructed of metals that are immune to the effects of Xenomorph blood.[7][13]Predator blood itself is also shown to be able to partially neutralize the acidity of Alien blood.[14] However, human technology in this regard remains in its infancy. While basic systems have been prototyped (including the Apesuit acid-proof body armor) mankind has yet to develop truly effective methods for negating the corrosive effects of Alien blood.

Behind the ScenesEdit

The idea of giving the Xenomorph acid blood came from conceptual artist Ron Cobb, in response to screenwriter Dan O'Bannon's insistence that the creature be a mortal organism, but have some characteristic that prevented the crew from killing it.[15] In Alien and Alien3, shots of the acid blood dissolving through flooring were achieved using a combination of styrofoam for the solid surface and a mixture of chemicals for the blood. In Alien, the blood mixture was mainly composed of chloroform, acetone, cyclohexylamine and acetic acid, with other compounds in minor quantities. "We produced a mixture of chemicals that actually was pretty corrosive — you wouldn't want to get it on your skin, you know," explained special effects supervisor Brian Johnson. "That stuff just ate right through the styrofoam, but it left enough color behind so it really looked like metal."[16]

TriviaEdit

  • The effects of acidic blood are portrayed with wildly varying consistency in the films. In Alien, the blood (from the Facehugger attached to Kane) is seen to be capable of melting through two decks of the Nostromo in mere seconds, yet when Ripley shoots the fully-grown Alien with a harpoon gun at the end of the film, the spilled blood fails to melt the harpoon and free the creature. In Aliens, Corporal Hicks' armor is destroyed by acid blood, yet at many other points the substance does not damage the walls and floors around dying creatures like it should. In Alien Resurrection, Ripley 8 has acid blood capable of melting through steel and toughened glass, yet it has no effect on the surgical implements used to operate on her at the start of the movie.
  • Beyond the acidic effects of the blood itself, the Xenomorph circulatory system is never examined in any detail in the film series. However, the novelization of Alien Resurrection states that Xenomorphs have a heart that beats considerably faster than that of a human.[17]
  • The clone Ripley 8 also possessed acidic blood thanks to the inclusion of Xenomorph DNA in her system, although it was nowhere near as potent as that of Xenomorphs.

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers) and Ridley Scott (director). Alien [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  2. 2.0 2.1 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  3. 3.0 3.1  Aliens: Colonial Marines [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Gearbox Software.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Joss Whedon (writer) and Jean-Pierre JeunetAlien Resurrection [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  6.  Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Paul W. S. Anderson (writer and director). Alien vs. Predator [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  8. Steve Perry. (1993). Aliens: Nightmare Asylum. Bantam Books, 116. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood. (1995). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. Boxtree Ltd., 140. 
  10. Alan Dean Foster. (1979). Alien novelization. Warner Books, 137. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Brothers Strause, Ronald ShusettScience of the Alien [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  12. S. D. Perry. (2014). Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report. Insight Editions, 16. 
  13. Shane Salerno (writer) and The Brothers Strause (directors). Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  14. Perry, Steve & Perry, Stephanie. (1994). Aliens vs Predator: Prey, 259. ISBN 0-553-56555-9. 
  15. "Monster Legacy - StarBeast — Prologue: Alien, Dan O'Bannon's Cosmic Horror". Retrieved on 2015-08-07.
  16. "Monster Legacy - StarBeast — Part Ia: Alien, the Egg and the Facehugger". Retrieved on 2015-08-07.
  17. A. C. Crispin. (1997). Alien Resurrection novelization. Warner Aspect, 14. 

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