Why did the Engineer at the start of the movie drink the dark liquid?

From the Wikipedia article for Prometheus*:

Above a waterfall, a humanoid alien consumes a dark liquid, and a hovering spacecraft departs. After drinking the liquid the alien starts to disintegrate. The bodily remains fall into the waterfall below and the alien’s DNA triggers a biogenetic chain reaction.

* Note that since this question was posted, the Wikipedia article has been changed and no longer contains the above excerpt. This can be found in the page history for the Prometheus article.


2 Answers 2


As we can see after he drinks the liquid, his DNA seems to desintegrate into the water. But from the particules of his DNA, life is created. It is showed by the particules turning step by step into cellular life.

So my hypothesis is that his suicide was necessary to give birth to a new species: Us.

A friend of mine told me that he might have missed his flight (we can see a ship leaving), but I don't think that it is a good reason to get suicidal.

  • Okay, so is he on Earth when he does this? Is it thousands of years ago?
    – Evik James
    Jun 11, 2012 at 16:17
  • 2
    @EvikJames what I took from this opening scene was that groups of Engineers go to any planet that can support life (as they see it) and perform this ritual. That being said, this could be Earth, or it could be another planet, millions of years ago or quite recently. Remember that the film is named after Prometheus, the Titan from Greek mythology who stole fire from the Gods and gave it to the humans. This could be allegorical for stealing life (from their creators/god(s)) and giving it to lower forms of life. Jun 12, 2012 at 8:06
  • Scott has stated in interviews that the planet at the beginning "could be any planet," meaning that the Engineers have probably terraformed many planets and seeded them with life via self-sacrifice. Jun 22, 2012 at 3:36
  • @lucasbeef, I think you're thinking the oppostie. they want to extradicate life, so they have destroyed that planet which already consists of life by sacrificing himself.
    – ashveli
    Jun 5, 2017 at 14:35

The humanoid wanted to break down the biological make-up of him, and then his infected DNA which eventually combined with Earth's water gives rise to all living beings on earth, including humans.

According to IMDB,

Why did the humanoid die at the beginning of the movie?

It can be assumed that the Humanoid or "Space Jockey" at the beginning of the movie was standing on Earth, and the liquid that he drank was probably the same matter that David discovers (when he says "big things have small beginnings"). Supposedly this liquid dematerialises the Space Jockey's DNA which eventually combined with Earth's water gives rise to all living beings on earth, including humans. Why the Space Jockeys couldn't have extracted DNA from stem cells or even just manufactured it, remains a mystery. One theory is that that along with the mythology behind the movie title, the space jockey standing on Earth stole the technology from the biological weapons seen on LV-223, to create new life instead of destruction. This lone dissident having no means to add the space jockey/human genome to the liquid compound had to make do with what he had; his own body. Concept art of the film showed an extended opening scene involving two Space Jockeys. An elder SJ gives a younger looking SJ the cup of black liquid in a ritualistic manner. So the opening scene is part of a ritual to begin the creation of organic life on any given planet. The scene is rumored to have been shot so it may end up on the home release as behind the scenes or deleted footage.


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