Wherever they roam in the universe, "Star Wars" characters are met with a motley crew of creatures, sometimes mild-mannered and sometimes monstrous. No matter their dispositions or intentions, you can always count on these organisms being more than a little bit weird.
Take wampas, for example. On the ice planet Hoth, one wampa grabbed Luke Skywalker and then hung him upside down in a cave. Now, clearly the wampas were a little lacking in hospitality, but what exactly are these things supposed to be, anyway?
They are obviously enormous furry monsters with sharp teeth meant to shred anything that looked scrumptious. They also are anything but mindless, possessing the intelligence to maintain their own icy homes, capture other beings, and then make nice meals out of them.
And don't even get us started on mynocks. These bizarre, bat-like critters behave like parasites, latching on to ships and biting into cables so that they could sip power. Incredibly, mynocks are so adaptable that they could live in the vacuum of space, where they even reproduce — by splitting in two, no less. Although mynocks are ugly and annoying, they are at least edible, providing far-flung outposts with a bit of meat now and then.
It seems that every "Star Wars" creature, large or small, has the alien appearance and odd demeanor to make it stand out from all of the other hordes of space creatures strewn across the galaxies. Keep reading and you'll get reacquainted with 11 of the wackiest creatures from the "Star Wars" saga.
Sometimes the name says it all. That's almost true of the Kowakian monkey-lizards, which have hairless monkey bodies topped by hideous faces that looks like a cross between a chicken and a frog. A neck collar of scraggly fur adds to the oddness, so that the overall effect is rather visually unsettling.
Still, this creature's odd appearance is its second-most notable characteristic. Its most recognizable trait is a laugh, an evil-sounding chuckle that can portend a potentially grim end for anyone within earshot.
One of the most famous Kowakian monkey-lizards (aptly named Salacious B. Crumb) lived out its days in Jabba the Hutt's dark lair, along with all of the other cruel and misshapen characters who embraced the Dark Side. There, Crumb giggled at the misfortunes of anyone unlucky enough to face Jabba's wrath.
Crumb perished when Jabba's sail barge exploded, thanks to the quick action of Luke Skywalker and his comrades.
Pro tip: If you ever set out to rescue a princess being held captive on a Death Star, don't attempt to escape through what you think is an air ventilation hatch. You may just wind up in a disgusting trash compactor that threatens to smoosh all of you into sludge. Worse yet, that compactor might be inhabited by a dianoga, as Luke, Han Solo and Princess Leia learned in the most unfortunate way possible.
Dianogas are tentacled organisms hailing from Vodran, capable of growing to more than 30 feet (10 meters) high, with bodies reminiscent of an octopus (albeit one with a toothy maw meant to chomp unlucky prey). The cephalopods eschew dry, clean habitats for the swampy, filthy confines of places like a Death Star sewer, where they happily snack on any meaty treats that wander within reach.
Although mindless, dianogas are dangerous to anyone who slips into their homes. As our intrepid "Star Wars" team found out, dianogas will observe prey from afar using eyeballs embedded at the end of fleshy stalks, and then attack without warning from the depths. They are sneaky, slithery and serious trouble for anyone approached.
If you were a crime lord looking to dole out death sentences to those who crossed you, a simple laser blast execution would be far too easy. Better to take a leisurely flight across the desert to a massive hole in the ground — such as the Great Pit of Carkoon, which was inhabited by a Sarlacc. Then you'd jab your prisoner a few times until he plummeted, screaming, into the creature's hungry jaws. That's how Jabba the Hutt did things, to great dramatic effect, permanently offing his competitors in one terrifying mouthful.
Sarlaccs are a classic ambush predator. The one on Carkoon made its home far beneath the sandy surface, concealing its presence until the last possible moment, and then striking out at bite-sized meals.
Sarlaccs have circular mouths ringed by dozens of curved teeth. At the edges of their mouths are long, spindly tentacles meant to snag and drag prey back to the beaked tongue, which rips lunch into a more digestible size.
These are the icebergs of space aliens. Although their mouths are gigantic, most of the animal's oblong body may be buried far underground. The overall effect is nightmare fuel for the ages.
They are the dodo birds of the "Star Wars" universe. They also probably taste like chicken.
They are the nunas, small and flightless birds that zip around on two legs through the swamps of Naboo. Prolific omnivores, they mostly devour plants but also gobble down amphibians when given the chance. Without any real defenses, nunas run from danger as quickly as their skinny legs can carry them, but often their stupidity cost them their lives. Only their high reproductive rates have kept them from going extinct.
Nunas are adaptable creatures and actually have thrived on many planets, in both the wild and in cities. Sometimes they have been scorned as pests, but they have also proven to be a useful food source, making their presence welcome to the hungry masses.
If you took a bighorn sheep, threw in some ox-like bulk and then added the size of an elephant, you'd have an animal that looks something like a Bantha. These beasts live on Tatooine, where they wander in herds and serve sentient masters as beasts of burden.
More specifically, Banthas typically work for Tusken Raiders, who use the hairy mammals to transport themselves and their cargo across the desert. Banthas are docile herbivores, and once their working days are up, their remains are used for food, clothing and drinks.
We can only speculate as to their evolution, but it seems a bit counterintuitive that Banthas are cloaked in heavy fur in the middle of a hot, arid climate. Perhaps their brown hair provided insulation from the heat. Maybe Tatooine was in the middle of a global-cooling spell that necessitated a warmer coat. Regardless, Banthas are a wacky combination of animal parts in a memorable form.
In the "Star Wars" stories, getting tossed into a gladiator-style arena is always a very bad thing. You will undoubtedly face some horrid monstrosity aching to tear your entrails out through your throat. That's exactly the kind of end that faced Obi-Wan and company on Geonosis. There, below a jeering crowd, our hero faced off against a fearsome acklay.
Acklays look like a praying mantis-crab hybrid, only much, much bigger, about three times larger than a full-grown man. These are powerful animals with six muscular legs that they use to jab and wound their targets. Predictably, they also have jaws laced with ridiculously pointy teeth.
These creatures scurry with frightening speed and wield their foremost legs as primary weapons. With one swipe, they can break chains clean in two, and they shrug off damage from spears and the like. Obi-Wan escaped the acklay that attacked him, but not before nearly succumbing to the beast's attacks.
With a name like rock wart, you can probably guess that these guys aren't anything beautiful. What you might not know is that rock warts are a potential threat to your health, too.
These vile brutes sort of resemble tadpoles that have been way too close to a leaking nuclear power plant for hundreds of years. Their tear-shaped bodies have four misshapen eyes, eight legs that are like wannabe tentacles and rough, lizard-style skin that randomly sprouts tiny spikes.
In true "Star Wars" tradition, the rock warts also feature prominent toothy mouths that lacerate anyone dumb enough to wander within reach. More surprisingly, the rock warts are venomous and can incapacitate larger creatures. Once dead, the bodies of victims become a breeding ground for rock wart eggs and young.
Jabba the Hutt had a knack for keeping some of the most terrifying beasts in the galaxy by his side. Of particular note is the Rancor, one of the most famous "Star Wars" creatures of all time, and one of the scariest, to boot.
Rancors move about a little like a Tyrannosaurus rex, on thick hind legs, using their shorter forelegs to claw at anything in their way. They have a hulking head and a face that can be best described as ... squishy. Rancors also drool incessantly, meaning they are messy to keep around, even for a slovenly crook like Jabba.
These creatures aren't entirely savage or feral. Many sentient species domesticated rancors, sometimes for transportation and protection, or in Jabba's case, as attack animals in an arena. No matter how tame they may have appeared, rancors are always to be treated as hazardous to your health, otherwise they could lash out unpredictably at any moment.
Chicken-lizard sounds like a silly combination for a sci-fi animal. That is, until you see a varactyl up close and personal – then it's not so funny anymore, particularly if you like your head connected to your body.
Varactyls, which originated from Utapau, are a type of giant lizard that are more than 12 feet (4 meters) tall at the shoulder, and nearly 50 feet (15 meters) long from the tip of their vicious-looking barbed tails to the tips of their equally scary snouts. In homage to their bird-tinged evolution, they feature a mane of brilliant blue-and-green feathers that add a regal air to what would otherwise look like nothing more than a meat-eating machine.
In fact, varactyls aren't nearly as ferocious as they appear. They're herbivores imbued with incredible climbing skills that help them scramble up even the steepest slopes of their home world. They're also easy to domesticate and extremely loyal. Their speedy footwork makes them perfect mounts for anyone who needs fast terrestrial transportation.
Duracrete is a material used in construction all over the universe. On Coruscant, in particular, this was a problem for some engineers thanks to duracrete slugs, which enjoy munching on the material that makes up their moniker.
These slugs look they could have been distant cousins to rock warts, with the same tapered bodies and hideous visages. The Duracrete variety might be slightly cuter, though, with whiskered mouths instead of jaws filled to the brim with pain-inducing teeth. One huge difference is size – the slugs grow to tremendous size, sometimes in the realm of 30 feet (10 meters) long.
The slugs bear a shield of tough armor as protection against attackers. Fittingly, that armor is made from duracrete. After the creature digests its meals, the material leeches to the skin surface, where it hardens into a layer that can deflect teeth, spears and other hazards of the "Star Wars" galaxies.
Bacon is vastly underrepresented in "Star Wars," so it's a relief that "The Force Awakens" features happabores, which had a distinctly hog-like shape and some similar gross traits, too.
Happabores have the bodies and legs of a hippo or a rhinoceros — immense girth sprouting stubby and almost comically short legs. The head of this creature, though, is what makes it unforgettable. It has beady, rhino-like eyes topped with bone spurs and a gigantic elongated face that ends in a huge snout. The nostrils alone are probably large enough for a human fist to slip inside, were you so inclined.
Happabores are easy enough to tame and could be used as sturdy mounts. That's only if you could stand their rancid breath, of course.
The "Star Wars" universe contains a multitude of critters scurrying and lumbering to and fro, populating the books and movies in a mass of quivering, furry or scaly flesh. Indeed, the unusual and downright wacky creatures that assist and afflict the Skywalkers are indispensable. Without this cast of side characters, the stories would lack the mystical magic that's helped them to endure for decades.
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Author's Note: 10 Wacky Creatures of 'Star Wars'
There are countless wacky creatures in the "Star Wars" movies, so it's hard to figure out which ones are my favorites. I always thought that the ferocious teddy bears called Ewoks were pretty fantastic. They always fought for the good guys, and I remember shedding a tear or two when Stormtroopers blasted them in the forest. But let's be honest, in all of these films, no other predator quite matches the Sarlacc. It was singularly ugly and singularly massive, like a tooth-laced black hole, inescapable for the characters who met their doom in its max and unforgettable in my nightmares. Thanks a lot, George Lucas.
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- Star Wars Databank. "Acklay." (Dec. 11, 2016) http://www.starwars.com/databank/acklay
- Star Wars Databank. "Rancor." (Dec. 11, 2016) http://www.starwars.com/databank/rancor
- Star Wars Databank. "Nuna." (Dec. 11, 2016) http://www.starwars.com/databank/nuna
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