Yautja

From Academic Kids

Yautja, more commonly known as simply Predators or (in the Alien vs. Predator movie) "hunters", are a fictional alien species that first appeared in the movie Predator, followed by Predator 2. In the movies they are shown as lethal hunters who seem to enjoy stalking and killing worthy adversaries.

Background

The Yautja is a clan-based society and sees its members earning status through hunting other species that provide for an adequate challenge, worthy specimens making admirable trophies. In each clan, there are different sets of rules and codes of honour guiding the members of the clan.

For example, some clans refuse to hunt down human beings in view that humans are intelligent beings and thus should be treated with respect. Fortunately for the movies, some predators have no such qualms. However, they may demonstrate other anthropomorized sensibilities. For example, in one movie (Predator 2), a predator thermal scans a female victim, and upon discovering a fetus within her, spares her life. Most hunters can identify with this as a type of animal management. Each clan is typically lead by a leader who will ensure the survival and honour of the clan.

The Yautja are highly technologically advanced, evidenced by their capacity for interstellar travel and by their array of weapons and equipment. One particularly notable example of this technology is the mask that they routinely wear. This is provides them with a breathable mixture of gases, multiple vision modes and some diagnostic capabilites, as well as serving as protection for their heads. Other equipment includes a cloaking device to provide active camouflage, and a medi-kit for healing battlefield injuries. Their weaponry includes smart disks (lethal frisbees), combi-sticks (part club, part lance), net-guns (for immobilising prey), wrist-blades (for hand-to-hand combat) and a shoulder-mounted plasmacaster (energy projection weapon). Supplementing these, each hunter also carries an atomic self-destruct device. Once activated, this device sets off a small-scale nuclear explosion, and is normally used as a final resort in order to preserve a warrior's honor.

The recent "Alien vs. Predator" movie suggests that the Yautja have existed in their current form much longer than humanity by saying that the earliest Terran civilization was established by Yautja for the purpose of a hunting arena, and its inhabitants worshipped them as gods. The Yautja appear to have already developed their advanced technology at this point, too. Another possibility is that the Yautja homeworld operates on a different system of measuring time.

The pyramid where AvP takes place seems to be a development from the early Alien script, where the crewmembers find a strange pyramid that shows some worship of the aliens taking place. Both the "Space Jockey" race of Alien and the Yautja seem to have some long-standing relationship with the aliens. Some theories state that the "Space Jockeys" created them, whilst the Yautja merely use them as part of their hunting culture, but similarities between the technology of the Yautja, the chitin of the aliens and the technology of the "Space Jockey" suggest all three races are very closely connected--perhaps both races were highly influenced by the aliens or, more likely (as the Yautja's technology seems beyond their almost singular interest in hunting), the "Space Jockey" played some oppressive (maybe even mentoring) role over both species.

Since Predator, the Yautja have since appeared in many spin-off comic books and other media, often in crossovers with the Alien series, in which the Yautja hunt the xenomorphs. There have also been comic book crossovers with Superman, Judge Dredd and Batman. Alien vs. Predator, a movie featuring both alien species, was released in 2004. In the comic Alien vs Predator vs Terminator they are also shown as a force of balance on a cosmic level, working to stop a flood of Terminators from decimating the population of the galaxy.

The term Yautja seems to stem from Steve and Stephanie Perry's novelisation of the comic series.

Biology

Physically, the Yautja are bipedal organisms not unlike humans, although they typically are much taller (> two metres) and more athletically built. However, several features of their anatomy differ markedly from that of humans. Most obviously, they have four prehensile mandibles surrounding their mouths, giving them an appearance not dissimilar to that of a crab. These mandibles appear to be used to produce clicks and chirps, which are used in communication. The Yautja are also capable of mimicking human speech. Another feature that distinguishes the Yautja is the possession of what appear to be dreadlocks around their heads. It is clear that these are not made from hair, but seem instead to be fleshy. Aside from their outward appearance, Yautja also notably have luminescent blood.

Of particular note is that Yautja vision appears (from our perspective) to be shifted into the infra-red region of the electromagnetic spectrum. In the films, this vision is apparently enhanced by the masks the Yautja wear. In the first film in particular, when this mask is removed, its owner appears to experience a much-reduced quality of vision (although it still appears to see in the infra-red). Given that a species is likely to evolve a vision system that suits its habitat/lifestyle, this suggests that either the Yautja homeworld orbits a star with a different spectrum to our own, or that the Yautja have evolved in a different ecological niche to our own (e.g. nocturnal predator). The seemingly poor vision quality in the absence of a mask may simply be a consequence of the light conditions on Earth (i.e. in more appropriate conditions, Yautja may have perfectly serviceable vision). Note that in the Aliens vs. Predator series of PC videogames, the unenhanced vision of the Yautja is presented as if it were the same as human vision (infra-red vision is an optional enhanced vision mode in the games). In the videogames, Yautja masks provide three enhanced vision modes : infra-red (as in the Predator films); a type of vision appropriate for electrically active systems (including Aliens and androids); and vision mode that distinguishes Yautja technology.

Another hint about the Yautja homeworld provided by both films is that the Yautja only hunt on Earth during the hottest years (this is remarked upon by one of the human characters in the first film). This would suggest a homeworld much warmer than the current climate of the Earth (though the Earth has experienced much warmer, and much cooler, climates in its past).

The design of the Yautja, especially that of their mouthparts, was a suggestion from James Cameron. While flying to Japan with Cameron, Stan Winston, who had been hired to design the Yautja, was doing concept drawings for the alien. Cameron saw what he was drawing and said "I always wanted to see something with mandibles". Winston then included them in his designs.

External links


Alien movie series
Alien | Aliens | Alien³ | Alien: Resurrection
Cross-overs
Alien vs. Predator
Relating to the Alien universe
Bishop | Ellen Ripley | LV-426 | Nostromo | United States Colonial Marines | Weyland-Yutani | Xenomorph | Yautja
de:Yautja

pt:Yautja

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