I just watched the movie "Alien" (which is great, by the way), and now I've begun to wonder about the origins of everybody's favorite chestburster. I know that:

  • They are first spotted on an alien ship.

  • The only crewman seen on the ship was very large, appeared to be attached to the ship, (or just seated), and had been chestbursted.

  • The Aliens had a large number of eggs in said ship, in a designated area.

  • The ship was sending a signal, warning/distress/lure?

  • The ship was on a barren planet.

  • The Aliens can survive almost any environment.

  • The Aliens can change form according to host, evidenced by the dog in Alien 3.

  • The Aliens are a good predator for most anything, but not plants... or that darned lucky cat.

  • Aliens need very little food to get big enough to kill.

Any theories? Were they a biological weapon? Apex predator? What is the origin of the Alien?

  • 4
    You should watch Prometheus, some questions are answered there. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 7:21
  • Prometheus' story is inconclusive except for the revelation that the Aliens kill the Engineers, and that they were a weapon, both already seen in Alien.
    – user40771
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 14:23
  • @CalebWoodman that's true, but it does begin to suggest that it relates to the Egineers and matter they use, as opposed to being natural selection creatures---and then there is Alien Coveant. Originally there was suppose to be at least one more sequel bridging the two series, but recant articles from the past week may suggest that the sequel is canceled. It's reported that cancelation is because the film under performed, but one should consider Disney is in the process of buying 21st Cent. Fox, pending on DOJ tax request approval. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:15
  • In the first 2 movies (to a lesser degree the 3rd) the origin of the alien is (in my opinion) unknown by design. The alien is existential threat, the terror of a cold infinite universe. These more modern francised sequels go to some effort to provde backstory but all they do is dilute the terror. Take the first 2 as cannon, the aliens just are and ignore the cash grabs. Commented Feb 15 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


After watching both Prometheus and Alien: Covenant (links to IMDb pages), the answer appears to be a combination of factors (WARNING: Spoilers for both movies follow, but as they are the entire substance of the answer, they are not wrapped in spoiler tags):

  • The black "goo" containing some type of parasitic life form created by the Engineers for whatever unknown reason with the apparent intention of destroying life. (Prometheus)
  • Additional experimentation and genetic engineering performed by the android, David (Alien: Covenant).

An article from The Verge (#1 in References below) does a good job of describing this latter piece of the puzzle in the following quote:

Michael Fassbender’s android David (he’s definitely the same character from Prometheus in this scene, as he’s called David by name) walks Billy Crudup’s character through his personal workshop of biological terrors. He shows off different mutations of the creatures, explaining that he has been trying to understand the aliens that were discovered in Prometheus, going so far as to genetically engineer new versions — a process that’s been waiting for one final puzzle piece to complete.

As for the former, the following quote from Hollywood Reporter (#2 in References below) doesn't provide a lot of additional insight:

Little is known about the parasitic life forms the Engineers created, but most of the creatures are connected to a mysterious black goo. Many different species who want nothing more than to infect another biological life form live in the goo, but the goo itself is also able to cause mutations.

I haven't read, seen, or listened to any of the extra-cinematic works associated with this franchise, so I can't really provide anything more substantial myself. However, this little bit of info does help to explain the rapidly evolving nature of the xenomorph, especially when coupled with another quote from the same article:

David, an android with mysterious motivations, inexplicably infects shipmate Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) with a small drop of the black goo in his drink (it seems David, an artificial creation, has an interest in becoming a creator himself). After Charlie makes love to his wife Elizabeth, he unknowingly passes on an infection of a squid-like alien. In a horrifically memorable scene, Elizabeth is forced to have an automated Cesarean section to remove it (without anesthesia). Later in the film, a squid alien (officially known as a Trilobite) has grown considerably larger than the Engineer it captures, and ends up parasitically infecting the Engineer as well. In the closing moments of the film, we see a new alien burst from the Engineer's chest. The surprise is, this alien, spawned from a single drop of black goo, cross-infected by two human hosts, a squid alien and an Engineer, looks more like the Alien Xenomorphs that we're already familiar with from the Alien franchise.

There are likely other (more) useful resources out there, but these are a couple of things I found when I was trying to make the connection myself.


  1. The Verge - Alien: Covenant changes everything we know about cinema’s most terrifying monster (11 March 2017)
  2. The Hollywood Reporter - 'Alien: Covenant' — What You Need to Know Before Seeing the Prequel (18 May 2017)

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