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In the classic scene in Star Wars a New Hope our heroes are trapped in a rubbish press with a creature...

Given the Death Star is fairly new (it's only just been completed) how could such a creature have got on board and how could it end up in the garbage compacter? Is it actually part of the rubbish recycling process?

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The first Death start was under construction for over ~19 years. It seems likely that the garbage systems might have been in place for at least a decade. After all, when you are building a moon size structure you need workers, surely the tens of thousands of workers are going to produce a huge volume of trash. –  Zoredache Sep 30 '13 at 5:12
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up vote 24 down vote accepted

The creature, called a Dianoga, is a pest found across the Galaxy, that originated on a planet called Vodran.

It likely arrived on the Death Star as a stowaway on a garbage ship removing trash from the Death Star. Their larva are apparently microscopic, and common enough to be considered a serious pest:

Over many millennia, dianoga migrated from Vodran by stowing away aboard garbage ships in their microscopic larval forms, and could be commonly found in trash compactors, garbage pits and sewers across the galaxy, living off any present organic matter

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The presence of a single dianoga was often cause for alarm, since the creatures were self-fertilizing hermaphrodites, and could quickly multiply to pose a larger problem.

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