About That Black Cleansing Lotion...
There seems to be a lot of confusion about the functions of the black pathogen (or black goo, accelerant, mutagen, or xenovirus, for those of you that prefer one of those names) that the Engineers created and if there is only one form, or many. Although it is not simple, I thought it was very clear what it is a what it does in Prometheus and Covenant, but reading some threads here and elsewhere, it seems some people are still confused.
The David/Oram lab scene in Covenant really lays it out, the Advent video provides even more information. David's dialogue in Alan Dean Fosters novelization, based on an early script, and an late draft of the script by John Logan explained it even more, so I thought I would attempt to compile a summary using those and a few other sources, plus what we see in the movies. Skip to the FOUR FORM OF PATHOGEN summary at the end, if you don't want to read all the details.
WHAT IS IT?
A pathogenic virus in the form of a black fluid that triggers virulent genetic and physical mutations to whatever genome it is exposed to. It hijacks cells and rewrites their DNA.
In Advent, David calls it a "primordial ooze ripe with advanced nano particles, operating off on an algorithm based on evolutionary computing". 'Primordial ooze' a substance made up of organic compounds and amino acids that form protein structures - in other words, it contains the building blocks of life.
A 'nanoparticle' is just a small, single particle that behaves as a whole unit. In in this application, it is comparable to a single particle that is part of a collective hive intelligence.
In genome editing and gene recombination, 'nanopartcles' can be used with high efficiency to deliver protein packages across cell wall barriers and targeted to specific areas of specific cells requiring genome editing or gene therapy. This is simply David being a little more specific than just saying 'the pathogen rewrites the host DNA', which is what he said in the movie.
The "A.I." David refers to is tied to the 'evolutionary computing' term he also says. Evolutionary computing is a computer science term that is used in the field of Artificial Intelligence, but in this artificially created biotechnology application (or biomechanical) it means algorithms based on biological evolution are used to predictively organize amino acid sequences and protein structures in an intelligent manner. Again, this is just more detail on how the pathogen is radically rewriting the host DNA for a purpose.
Evolutionary computing algorithms rely on real biologically inspired genetic operations, like selection, mutation, and crossover. Crossover is taking parent chromosomes from more than one parent and producing an offspring combining features of those parent chromosomes. That is exactly what the pathogen does when the parasite takes on characteristics of the host from its DNA, such as the "dog" version of the Alien seen in Alien 3, which walked on all-four legs, instead of upright like the human born version. Or the ultramorph (Deacon) in Prometheus, which had genetic information from Holloway's mutation, Shaw's DNA, and Engineer DNA.
DID THE ENGINEERS CREATE IT?
Various comments from Damon Lindeloff and Ridley Scott hint that the Engineers may not have created the pathogen originally. The film title may also hint that they took it or stole it from another higher race.
At the foot of the mural in Prometheus is an altar with what looks like a broken green gem stone. One theory is that this gem contained the original form of the pathogen, which the Engineers used to develop their own version, or versions, from.
IS THERE JUST ONE FORM OF THE PATHOGEN? - This question stirs up much debate. When Prometheus came out, people were trying to resolve how one pathogen could cause all the different effects we see happen. Some theories say the effect varies by dosage or host type, others by how the subject was infected - skin contact, ingestion, inhalation - but all the evidence seems to indicate there are multiple forms of the pathogen designed for specific functions. David even says it came in many forms in Covenant.
This is why you see it do various different things in both movies, and why in Prometheus we see urns of various sizes in the Juggernaut cargo hold and the temple/head room, all with different markings on them.
"The pathogen took many forms and proved extremely mutable", he explained. - David from the Covenant novel.
"They were as ingenious with their pathogens as they were with everything else" - David from John Logan's script
These are the various urn props used, showing all the sizes and writing. The film makers could have simply had a master container made and cast that to make all the props, but instead they were intentionally made in a variety of different sizes with different information written on each in the Engineers alphabet.
So what is written on them? If we made a weaponized pathogen, we would likely mark the containers with the contents, give it a lot number, and date. That would give some commonality to the markings, but that is not what we see here. So what is written on them? Who knows. It could be the form of the pathogen inside, an Engineer prayer or blessing, or any number of things, but the takeaway is the text is all different.
THE PATHOGEN HAS AN OFFICIAL IDENTIFIER
The Weyland website and Prometheus Blu Ray supplemental material show that the Weyland corporation called the pathogen CHEMICAL AO-3959X.91 - 15.
THE PATHOGEN IS UNDETECTABLE WHILE DORMANT
"While it is dormant, the virus is completely inactive. There was nothing for your ship or companion (Walter), competent as their respective instrumentation might be, to detect. Its not as if it is floating in the air like a common germ. The ability to lie inactive for a very, very long time is one of the things that makes it so dangerous. And dangerous to its Engineers as well."- David from the Covenant novel.
THE PATHOGEN RECREATES ITSELF, AND WHEN IT RUNS OUT OF HOSTS, IT GOES DORMANT
"The original liquid atomizes to particles when exposed to the air. It then reproduces in whatever host it happens upon and eventually gives rise to more liquid, which at the appropriate time atomizes, and so on, and so on. The cycle repeating itself almost endlessly. ..Until there are no more hosts." - David
THE PATHOGEN HAS AN EXTREMELY LONG LIFESPAN
"The pathogen itself has an extremely long lifespan. Given a suitable environment in which to exist in stasis, it can lie dormant for hundreds, if not thousands of years, until a suitable host presents itself, and awakens it to commence the cycle again." - David
On the Prometheus Blu Ray and Weyland website there are parts of a report on the pathogen submitted to Weyland Corp by David. How canonical that material may be is debatable, but the part about the storage ampules states this - "These ampules are to display an engraved information placard on the exterior surface. Within the ampules there are to be four conical-shaped glass phials that contain agent. This will ensure the agent ability to retain infectivity and virulence after a prolonged period of storage."
THE PATHOGEN INFECTS ALL NON-BOTANICAL LIFE. ALL THE FAUNA (animals), NO FLORA (plants)
"The pathogen was designed, engineered might be a better term since those of us on the Prometheus came to think of them as genetic engineers, to infect any and all non-botanical life forms. Its sole function is to reproduce. The offspring will stop at nothing to do so. It is their rationale for existence, designed into them by the Engineers. " - David
A SINGLE APPLICATION OF THE PATHOGEN CAN RENDER AN ENTIRE PLANET UNINHABITABLE
"They kill by reproducing. An elegant method of 'warfare', if you take the time to think about it. Or 'experimentation' if one prefers that description. A very thorough way of cleansing a world of unwanted lifeforms. If even a single offspring of the virus is left, it will not stop until it has found a living host. It seeds, then it moves on. As you have seen, the seed incubates, mutates, and matures with astonishing speed, until it is reborn. If not controlled*, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable." - David
NOTE - This implies the spread can be controlled, if desired.
THE TINY BLACK MOTES - these are basically the same type of delivery method as a facehugger, just a much tinier organism. The mote eggs are what the first two Covenant victims stepped on. Dozens of these little motes swarmed out and infected them with Neomorph eggs/embryos. The Covenant motes also look very similar to the tiny objects we see swarming out of the Engineer in the Prometheus prologue as he is being disintegrated by the pathogen, and the black objects swarming around the Engineers after David bombs them.
We have this quote about the motes from John Spaith's on the Prometheus Blu Ray - "The black material that consumed him (the Engineer) transmuted into little scarab-like gnats that flew away across the earth…". In his version of the script we actually get to see these insects up close.
In late draft of the Covenant script we also get to see the insects up close infecting Ledward.
"A haze of little mote-like MIDGES in the dappled sunlight. And we see one of the insects--
Ever-changing in its form -- lurching and stabbing into new shapes -- oily black but beautiful ... It hovers, has intelligence...It’s watchful, careful. It settles near Ledward’s ear, and then enters the ear canal... the soft pink flesh... quickly
attaches itself -- a feeding tube plunging into his flesh--"
...and infecting Hallet.
"But he inadvertently steps on a tiny egg behind him-- Unleashing a cloud of the MIDGES. They waft up. Swirling before him...
One of the black INSECTS darts forward -- into his nostril -- the pink nasal passage -- attaches itself and stabs a feeding tube into him--"
Interesting that the original idea was that the midge-motes have an "ever changing form" and constantly change shape, as if the they are shape changers.
Here is an example of the size of a "midge".
And an Earth midge up close.
I think something like those are what we see the Engineer's tissue in Prometheus is being transmuted into.
They are also shown in the concept art of the Engineer being broken down.
This is from the Covenant Novelization -
"...each one was a cluster of tiny black motes preserved in something that that looked like amber."
This is from John Logan's Alien: Covenant script.
"The original black liquid turned to lethal particles when exposed to air. Later stages produced parasites and invasive insects."
Oram looks at those motes-insects in David's magnifier in the movie.
"The Captain could see frozen in place various stages of the pathogen's life cycle. Motes inserting feeding tubes into insect-sized subjects and pumping eggs into their unfortunate bodies. The eggs growing, hatching, and maturing, to finally burst free even from the diminutive hosts, only to begin the cycle again."
These appear more wasp-like than the gnats John Spaiths described for Prometheus. These are obviously different than anything we have on Earth, but we do have thousands of species of parasitoid and parasitic wasps. Parasitoid wasps lay their eggs or larvae inside or on an adult host species, often killing the host when they mature. The motes-wasps do the same by implanting an egg or embryo of a Neomorph into the host, which is killed when the Neomorph is born.
"From the egg sacks came these parasites. Airborne, and gifted with a very primitive, but dutiful hive intelligence. Once released into the atmosphere they're relentless in their purpose. The shock troops of a genetic assault. Always searching for a potential host." - David
We see these egg sacs in Covenant, and in David's drawings.
"Waiting for a host. Entering the host. Rewriting the DNA" - David
In the Advent video on the Blu Ray/DVD we see David doing a drawing showing a mote swarm and a mote breaking from the swarm and implanting eggs in a host.
THE PATHOGEN REWRITES THE DNA OF THE HOST, AND TAKES ON CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HOST
"Entering the host and rewriting the DNA, the pathogen produced mature offspring who's appearance and characteristics are wholly dependent upon the nature of the host itself. The progeny of a parasitized insect for example, will look very different from a creature that issues from a quadruped host." - David
This is why the ultramorph (deacon)/neomorph/xenomorph all have a humanoid shape and can walk upright, why the dog burster in Alien 3 primarily walked on all fours, and why the various alien experiments in David's lab resembled the animal hosts they were birthed from. Since the proto xenomorph in Covenant could walk on all-fours, presumably a quadruped was bred into its lineage.
DAVID DID NOT "CREATE" ANYTHING, HE "ENGINEERED" WHAT ALREADY EXISTED
How much David engineered himself and how much already existed is debatable, but he clearly was working with the pathogen, which already existed.
"...with nothing to occupy myself other than the compiling of a simple collection, I began to do a bit of genetic experimentation of my own. Simple cross-breeding, hybridizing, what have you. I like to think that the ill fate inhabitants of this world, the original Engineers, would gaze on my work with approval." - David
Oram - "You engineered these?"
David - "Idle hands are the devils workshop."
Alan Dean Foster had this to say in an AVP podcast interview in 2017 - "David was working with material that had been left behind by the Engineers, and he’s been playing around with it...It is possible that the Engineers developed the xenomorph, or it is possible that David developed a more advanced version of the xenomorph".
This is from John Logan's Alien:Covenant script.
"...the slaughter would never end until every humanoid life form was dead. Thus the creatures that attacked you: Human DNA infected with the virus and creating yet more deadly mutations ... An endless spiral of predation." - David
We also have this quote from Ferran Domenech of MPC, who worked closely with Ridley on the design and effects work for the alien - "David spent years tinkering with the pathogen DNA and re-combining it to create the ‘Xenomorph’, a perfect organism. In the original 1979 ALIEN, the Xeno is a cool and stealthy killer. This made sense to us as he is a larger version of the bioweapon the Engineers designed in the Neomorph."
That means the genetic coding to create the Neomorph already existed in the pathogen prior to David. In the Alien Covenant Advent video, David states that human DNA from Shaw was what allowed him to make breakthroughs in his own engineering.
"I had to salvage her parts to begin work on my masterpiece...You wouldn't believe the secrets I have unlocked...With Shaw, I realized there was something extraordinary about the substances reaction to the human genome. I was able to unlock new properties and tweak the organisms aggression and instinct for survival. It took years" - David
DAVID DID NOT CREATE THE EGG OR FACE HUGGER, HE "ENGINEERED" HIS OWN VERSIONS - this was already indicated by the fact that we see two face hugger-type organisms on the mural in Prometheus, which was thousands of years old, although we see no egg/ovomorph shape on the mural.
In the novel, however, we have this about the egg.
He gestured towards the end of the table. A sizable leathery egg shape sat there. It was separate from all the other specimens, as if occupying a place of honor...The interior revealed a motionless creature. All finger-like appendages and flattened body, with a muscular tail coiled beneath it as if it was ready to spring outward.
We can see that full sized egg in the Advent video.
"In case you are wondering. I had nothing to do with it. It lies as I found it. A supreme example of the Engineers skill, and also I suppose, of their hubris. Would that I could create something so perfect in its function," he added. "I try, but I don't have thousands of years of practice at biological and genetic engineering. I have only my pitiable programming upon which to draw." - David
We also see various smaller versions David had been experimenting with in his lab.
So, if we are to believe David, the egg is another aspect of the parasites life cycle that already existed. Note that the eggs in David's egg room look very different from the ones we saw in the derelict Juggernaut in Alien. The fact that the proto xenomorph in Covenant looks very different to the one in Alien indicates these are not (yet) that exact same type of egg.
THE PROTO XENOMORPH WAS A RESULT OF DAVID'S CROSS-BREEDING. IT IS AN EARLY VERSION OF THE XENOMORPH - In Prometheus we saw a morph looking creature on the mural in the temple/head room. It had an elongated head like the other forms we have seen - ultramorph (deacon), neomorph, protomorph, and xenomorph. It also had smooth skin like the deacon and neomorph.
"Come. This is really what I wanted to show you. My successes." - David
David's contribution to the design seems to be the armored exoskeleton and clear dome on the head, considering all the other forms we have seen prior to that had smooth skin over the body and head.
Also note that the resulting xenomorph alien in Covenant does not look exactly like the one in Alien. This is an earlier version. That is not only apparent because of the design differences, but by the fact that the xeno's gestation period seems to be slightly faster and it is born fully formed, with all limbs, just as the dog/ox burster alien was in Alien 3.
The Alien Covenant art department called this creature a xenomorph, although a better term would be proto xenomorph, or protomorph.
Alan Dean Foster wrote this about the xenomorph in Covenant. These are David's thoughts as he watches it being born from its mother, Oram.
"It was already beginning to change, to mature, even before it had fully emerged. An advanced model possessed of a wildly accelerated rate of growth."
Saying "advanced model" implies the DNA for this version of the morph already existed. That could simply be a reference to the Neomorph, or an earlier version of the xenomorph. Foster said FOX did not object and let that line stay in the book.
THE PATHOGEN DID NOT IMMEDIATELY DESTROY ALL THE ENGINEERS ON PARADISE/PLANET 4 - Remember the body of the Engineer posed upright in David's lab? It looked normal, other than the fact it was partially skinned, and was holding it's skin in one hand. Unlike the ones in the plaza, which were desiccated and deformed.
"As you can see, my time here hasn't been wasted. It's in my nature to keep busy. Keep the mind exercised and all that, lest it fall prey to disorder from misuse." He indicated the massive body of the Engineer. "This specimen was particularly arduous to complete, and messy, you can imagine. Fortunately with thousands of examples from which to choose, I was able to practice on as many as I wished before finally getting this one right". - David
This implies that not all the Engineer's were killed by the bombing, and an early draft of the script says it took four days to kill all the Engineers. That also raises more questions. Where were they and how did David subdue or kill them in order to experiment on them?
They could have been holed up in a sealed buildings and they probably had shelters prepared for just such an outbreak. An early version of the script indicated they even had a planetary shield to prevent a pathogen entering or leaving the planet, although it obviously was not functioning in the movie, other than messing with the recording of Shaw that David was able to send out to lure passing ships, and Covenant communications down to the planet.
We also have this from the Foster novel - "As you have seen, the seed incubates, mutates, and matures with astonishing speed, until it is reborn. If not controlled, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable." - David
This implies that it is possible for the spread of the virus to be controlled, if desired, so if David knew how to do this, it could also explain how he had Engineers to experiment on.
FOUR FORMS OF PATHOGEN
"The Pathogen was designed to infect all non-botanical life forms. All the animals, the "meat" if you will. Either kill them outright or use them as incubators to spawn a hybrid form, highly aggressive." - David from Alien: Covenant
"The pathogen took many forms..." - David from Alien: Covenant
"They were as ingenious with their pathogens as they were with everything else. It was designed to infect every living being. Either kill them outright, or mutate into a different lethal form" - David from John Logan's Covenant script
We have seen at least four different functions of the pathogen in Covenant and Prometheus. Some people think these are just different effects of the same pathogen, others, like me, think all the evidence in the films points to the fact that the Engineers made various forms.
CREATION FORM - In the Prometheus prologue we see a version of the pathogen which completely breaks down the host cells, re writes the DNA, and creates new types of fauna. The Engineers sacrificed themselves to "seed" worlds with new life using this version of the pathogen. Ridley has referred to them as gardeners. They seed a world, replace the fauna with their own creation, then come back periodically to tend to their garden.
This type appears to function by consuming living tissue and transmuting it into thousands of tiny black motes that fly away to infect other animals. We see them swarming out of the Engineers body as it disintegrates and John Spaiths described them as scarab-like gnats on the Blu Ray.
DESTRUCTIVE FORM - This is the type that killed the Engineers on LV-223 and infected the Engineer head that exploded in Prometheus. It was intended to be used to wipe out Mankind on Earth over 2000 years ago, but David dropped this same form on the Engineer city in Covenant and wiped them out. It appears to break down and destroy tissue at a rapid pace, killing instantly. This seems to be nothing more than a weapon to kill animal life.
This type appears to function with motes of the black fluid that transform and become airborne. It moves collectively in swarms, similar to the type in the Prometheus prologue. In the movie we see the urns drop from the Dreadnought and explode in mid air, releasing black clouds that hover in a thin layer. These clouds then descend in swarms, like a plague of locusts. These attack the Engineer bodies with a rapidly expanding infection that converts the tissue into more of black fluid at a furious rate.
The converted tissue violently erupts into black branch-like tendrils that appear to be another transmuted form of the pathogen. Nothing is left of the Engineer bodies but desiccated husks that appear to harden over time, and all traces of the black tendrils disappear.
PARASITIC FORM - This is the type that requires one of the Engineers delivery organisms to infect a living host by implanting a seed or egg inside the host that grows into a parasite. The host is used as an incubator. The three types we have seen are:
Trilobite - Very large, single organism that latches onto a host, implants a single parasite inside the host via a tube, then dies.
Motes - tiny flying organisms that resemble insects. They are released from spore-like eggs, when the eggs are disturbed. They fly in swarms and implant parasites in the hosts via a tube.
Facehugger - large, single organisms that are released from large leather eggs when disturbed. These latch onto the host, implant a single parasite inside the host via a tube. It keeps the host alive via the tube until the parasite has grown to a certain stage, then dies.
The parasite these implant in the host take on traits of the host from the hosts own DNA. The parasite grows rapidly until it bursts out, killing the host. We have several nicknames for the various versions of parasites, or 'morphs' that we have seen:
morph or protomorph - Seen on the mural in Prometheus
ultramorph (deacon) - seen in Prometheus
neomorph - seen in Alien: Covenant
proto xenomorph - seen at the end of Covenant
xenomorph - seen in Alien
queen xenomorph - Seen in Aliens
From the morph will come a new egg that grows a new delivery organism inside (face hugger being one type). We have yet to see the full cycle from morph-to-egg in a movie yet, but the director's cut of Alien shows us the xenomorph can grow new eggs (ovomorphs) using human hosts as the raw material. Aliens shows us another way - an Alien queen that can create the eggs directly via a detachable womb.
Ridley indicated these morphs have a short life span, and when there are no more hosts to infect, they die out. He has also indicated they can regenerate when damaged.
This is a parasitic form of the Pathogen, designed to spawn hybrids, but it will also cleans a planet of all native animal life of specific types.
In Holloway's case, David infected him with the pathogen by direct ingestion. The result was either infection of tiny parasitic worms that multiplied inside his body and destroyed his tissue, or his tissue was being broken down and transmuted into the tiny worms. We see a worm parasite protrude from Holloway's eye in Covenant, and many of them are protruding from his skin in one of the makeup tests, indicating that he was infested with them.
Holloway never turned aggressive or followed the same type of physical transformation as Fifield, so this form does not appear to be the same as that.
At the time Holloway was infected with the worm parasites he had sex with Shaw. His DNA and that of his sperm were being altered, and some have suggested that an actual worm paraste passed from him to Shaw, which then infected her tissue. The resultant organism birthed from Shaw was a type of face hugger, the delivery mechanism for the parasitic version of the pathogen.
The urn David took this form from was one that was not leaking like the others in the urn room in Prometheus. Below are David's notes on the ingestion effects from the Weyland website. These are incomplete, as David did not observe the infecting parasites directly and Holloway was killed and his body burned while David was investigating the Engineer ship.
MUTATION FORM - In Prometheus we see that one version of the pathogen, the type leaking from some of the urns in the temple/head room, can mutate an organism and make it extremely aggressive. We saw this with Fifield's mutation and the mutation of the segmented worms living in the soil of the temple room.
After being immersed in the black fluid leaking from the ampules in the temple room, the worms were transformed into large and aggressive hammerpede creatures, with the ability to quickly regenerate damaged tissue. "this goop, as a result of being exposed to the atmosphere when they unseal it (the ampule room), interacts with these worms, and those worms grow into much larger and nastier worms that have the capability of infecting the humans who come in contact with them - Milburn and Fifield." - Damon Lindelof from the Prometheus commentary
In Fifield's case, his face mask was melted by acid then was splashed with the black liquid on the floor of the LV-223 temple. It appears that he inhaled some of the pathogen through the holes burned in his faceplate, as very little of it seemed to directly contact his skin.
The resulting infection caused him to begin transformation into another creature, and turn very violent. He was killed before we got to see his final form, but it appeared head was enlarging. In the original version of this scene, Fifield was much father along in his transformation, with an elongated head and elongated limbs.
This is David's description of the inhalation effects of this form of the pathogen from the Weyland Website.
It is also implied by the Prometheus production designer that this version of the pathogen is what infected the decapitated Engineer in Prometheus - "Fifield was considered to be a mid point between the Deacon at the end and Hammerpede…The table where the head explodes - ultimately that’s going to happen to Fifield at some point. Whatever was happening to that Engineer is now happening to Fifield. His head is becoming horribly contorted. He is losing himself to the alien within him." - Arthur Max production designer
I assume this version was meant to be a weapon, but it may also be a mutation designed to propagate and create a customized delivery mechanism to infect more of the native host organisms.
Again i dont know if this can be taken as true.. but the Source i had from 2.5 years ago had said the Xenomorph Origin was a like tiny worm like Parasite, these Parasites could infect a Host and use their DNA to make a Hybrid Organism.
These worm like Organisms which they said were a larvae Stage much like Mosquito larvae can evolve and grown into what they called Testicals with Tentacles or maybe looked like a Brain with Tentacles. This Organism acts like a Face Huger and Implants a Embryo into a Host that Creates a Hybrid Organism.
When there are no Hosts to use, or when Conditions are not favourable this stage can attach itself to a surface (with Tentacles) and then they Harden into a Cyst like Cocoon.
Inside this Cocoon the Organism then performed one of TWO things.
1) It would clone itself inside so that inside it would be growing a smaller version of itself that would then be released from the Cocoon onto a Host to perform the same task as its Cocoon it was cloned from.
2) It can also instead produce inside many of the tiny Worm-like Parasite Stages, that can be released when disturbed.
They said the Engineers did not create this Organism, or at very least it was something that evolved Millions of years ago without their influence.
This Parasite in the Tentacled Cocoon Stage can evolve into Eggs.
Again i cant say if this is 100% true...
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
@Kethol - I was thinking the motes were like tiny Tsetse Flies that infected the host with a neomorph larve. Great topic!
@BigDave - "Again I don't know if this can be taken as true. but the Source i had from 2.5 years ago had said the Xenomorph Origin was a like tiny worm like Parasite, these Parasites could infect a Host and use their DNA to make a Hybrid Organism."
That sounds exactly like the mutation version that infected Fifield, but not really what we see in Covenant.
Very nice post, you dit good work.
But two things I have to disagree with.
1) I simply can not imagine, that david "created" the exoskeleton. The ibo-suit of the engineers looks exactly like the xenomorph exoskeleton. I cannot imagine them beeing so stupid not to have the idea to improve their Neomorph with an exoskeleton. At the end of prometheus the deacon looks like it has some sort of exoskeleton (because its host had one). The engineers must have been familiar with that "upgrade". I really don't know where David in 10 years could have improved something that the engineers worked on for thousands or hundrets of thousands of years.
2) "This specimen was particularly arduous to complete, and messy, you can imagine. Fortunately with thousands of examples from which to choose, I was able to practice on as many as I wished before finally getting this one right".
I think this relates to the petrified engineers. He took thousands of them until he managed to "wash" one properly.
I think this is why its still all open for debate, right now we do not have any 100% Answers, it is looking like David created the Xenomorph but they could change that.
We dont have any knowledge of how old the xenomorph or the DNA from which it came or the Black Goo is... certainly more than 2000 years old (Black Goo) but we dont know how old it is or where it came from... only clues that can lead us to a number of interpretations.
As for the Engineer Corpses i agree, it kind of seems David was playing Dr Frankenstien with various body parts, but we can still ponder do those Dead Engineers Provide enough Good Genetic Material..? or could David had acquired more fresher Engineers.
I think it may sound a bit like Holloway, i think we may need to ponder what the Eye Worm was, and if it was his infected Sperm or just the Eyeworm that infected Dr Shaws Eggs.
I cant say if the source is in anyway correct, from what they was hinting at is there is a Ancient Organism they encountered either as a Punishment or by Accident.. which they did mention something like LV-223 being similar to the FLY movie Experiment.
So i think maybe it could be as Michelle had said about a Hubris in messing about with something they should not have, so maybe these beings experimented with the Creation Goo when they was not supposed to, and it then came into contact with a Parasite that created/led to something related to the Xenomorph?
They claimed the Organism was based on Echinoderm (Cystoids) but also in part also Cnidaria they claimed they looked a bit like Mosquito Larvae which when i look at these and Cnidaria well a form of them known as Sea Hyrdas i can then see a resemblance to the Eyeworm
When i had this information i had passed some onto Chris and as bizarre as it sounded, when i look at the Star Beast Mural i can see the Cyst and Tentacle things they described in it. Well on the Walls and under the Sacrificial Table.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
1) David did not create anything. He just cross-bred to get the traits he wanted.
As far as all the stuff you are saying about "improved" and "upgraded", are you talking about ADF's line in his book "An advanced model possessed of a wildly accelerated rate of growth"? If so, I think he just meant that to be what David was thinking as he watched the proto xenomorph being born.
As in, in David's mind, he considered it an advanced model. What he thinks of as advanced, for his purposes, may be totally different than what the Engineers thought.
2) The Engineer in David's lab is set up in the pose of Michelangelo's statue of David, and half of it is perfectly skinned to show off the musculature and ligaments underneath. The same pose as the statue of David in the prologue of Covenant. I think David was just saying it was hard to perfectly skin it, seal and preserve the tissue, and get it perfectly posed like that.
The Engineers outside were all deformed and shriveled, with the skin and tissue badly damaged.
The one in David's lab still has perfect skin on half his face and he is holding his own undamaged skin in his hand.
Kethol, the original poster, is basically wrong in a lot of his theory. There is no evidence at all of different forms of the black goo. When Damon Lindelof re-wrote the original "Engineers" script from Jon Spaihts, he replaced the idea of "scarabs" (tiny alien insects which suck DNA from one victim and implant it in another) with the idea of the black goo pathogen. The reason we see the black goo having different effects at various points in Prometheus and Covenant is because of DOSAGE levels. Different levels of goo ingested by the victim do different speeds of damage. Holloway had only a drop in his drink, thus he mutated much more slowly than Fifield, who breathed in a lot of goo. The Engineer at the start of Prometheus, drinks a whole cup of it at once, and the overwhelming reaction causes his DNA to break down. In Covenant we see it rained down on Engineers in vast quantities, this causes death and seemingly instant mutation and parasite birth from some victims.
It is all about how much of the goo they interact with, not different kinds of goo. Also, when David says that the virus "took many forms and was extremely mutable" he is talking about how the virus mutated itself within the victim. It will mutate in order to get past the victim's body defences (the novel states), and then cause the victim to mutate. This is not about different types of goo, but the goo mutating itself into different forms and then mutating the victims body. The Covenant novel states that the black goo becomes airborne after infecting the victim..so that it can float off like any regular virus and infect another victim. This is what we see at the start of Prometheus when the Engineer is dissolving. The black goo virus is floating out of him, becoming airborne, to seek out a new victim. The black goo likes to be airborne so it gets more victims, than from just sitting in a jar.
Also, the spores we see in Covenant are not the same thing as the black goo at all. They are spores from an infected fungus type life form. If the spores were black goo...they would cause the victim to birth some kind of parasite, or trilobite etc., but no they cause the victim to birth a neomorph. These spores are acting like mini trilobites or facehuggers. They are the second stage of life for an infected creature:
Black goo infection ---> Mutation ---> Victim births a parasite ---> Parasite attacks a 2nd victim ---> 2nd victim births a "morph" (neomorph or deacon etc.).
That worm seen in Holloway's eye, I think is from a hammerpede egg, which was laid in the black goo by those worms that we see wiggling about in it. The worms somehow crawled in to the urns, got mutated and laid eggs in there. The eggs hatch out into hammerpedes, and that's what we see in Holloway's eye, a baby hammerpede. Maybe Holloway managed to get it out of his eye and kill it, so it didn't reach full size.
It really is quite simple and the original poster is just complicating things with his own canon and complex theory. This is meant to be entertainment for people.. not some complex science lecture to understand on PhD levels. The simpler the explanation of events, the more likely. I agree that those wasp things in the amber are the same thing as the spore motes which we see coming from the fungal pods. I think those pods come from the black goo infecting local fungus organisms, rather than just spawning from the goo on it's own.
My own thesis here --> http://www.alien-covenant.com/topic/46223 explains what I think happened in David's experiment to create (or re-create in the novel) the Xenomorph. Long story short, David was splicing together infected egg cells from Shaw, with DNA from various neomorphs. I think this piece of David's art gives the game away, it shows a neomorph cell being merged with a mutated Shaw's cell -
There are a lot of cool things about the pathogen in the Advent video. Here are a few screen grabs of a drawing of a mote egg and David drawing a mote breaking from the swarm and injecting eggs into a host. The mote is a tiny flying insect.
@Yog Sothoth - Sorry, Yog, I think you are wrong, especially about the motes. David's drawing clearly shows the motes that come from the spore-like eggs are tiny insects that infect hosts. What you think is a wasp being infected by a mote is actually a mote ejecting eggs through its proboscis.
I have changed my above post to agree with part of your argument about the wasp/motes. I still think the mote eggs come from mutated fungus (they look and breed exactly how a fungus would) and I still think there is only one version of the pathogen to start with, but it mutated into "many forms" to get round the body defences of it's many hosts. David states this clearly in the novel. I expand my argument here, in your later post. - http://www.alien-covenant.com/topic/46231
And I responded there.
Not much info to determine the origin of the egg sacks. It could have originated as a fungus, but that is not what David's spore drawings show. There is lots of information written on them, but it seems to contradict David's other drawings and the movie.
Two of David's mote egg sack drawings label it as 'Clostrdio Tetani - sanaerobic pathogena'. Clostridium tetani is the tetanus bacteria, which is not a fungus. It's a bacillus that forms spores, and another drawing describes what puffs out as spore bacteria. Those could simply be his drawings of the original organism, and his later drawings that contradict those were made AFTER he made his own version with the flying insect-like motes.
Something interesting from the Covenant script. Slightly more detail than what we got in the movie. This version of the script is not the final one, but it indicates the insect-like motes developed after the initial bombing.
"The original black liquid turned to lethal particles when exposed to air. Later stages produced parasites and invasive insects. From their eggs came, well... this enviable bestiary". They pass preserved NEOMORPHS now -- large, small, all pale,
white, fleshy ... Some armored like the ones we’ve seen.
Others not ... All awful.
There is no scene where Oram looks at the mote in the magnifier in this draft, so that was all changed later.
When the crew arrives at the juggernaut, they find a variety of small eggs growing inside. There is actually a shot showing a large spore-like egg on the Juggernaut control panel in the Advent video.
EGG SHAPED OBJECTS.
Randomly clustered. Different sizes. From aubergine to acid green in color, abscesses ... None as large or impressive as
the originals we have seen in the past. They are growing out of a bed of BLACK FUR. Like the mold on cheese. The black filaments gently sway as the air stirs around them.
David also says he designed the facehugger, or at least implies it to Oram.
Then ORAM sees...A dead FACEHUGGER. On its back. The pale, spider-like fingers, curled in like a fist now.
Ah, now this was designed as something different.
What do you mean designed? You engineered this?
(smiles)Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
A lot of those Egg Shaped things in that image are just the Spongy/Rubber like components to the Juggernaughts Ship Controls
The one object does kind of look like the Spore Sacks though. But it could be a round component of the Control Panel, that has Mold gowning on top.
But indeed the Juggernaught had been overgrown with Moss, which means potential for Mold and Fungi too, and as Mold/Fungi are Technically not Plants they could be infected by the Black Goo.
I will have to study the draft, the Novel when i find where i put it, and Movie when i can purchase it in my country, and then have a really good look at all the clues.
As it stood from seeing the movie at the Box office, i was at that point... which can and may change now... but back then i felt the Urns in the Bombardment where Activated and Primed and then Exploded like a Nuke so the effects are different, than simply opening up a Unloaded Nuke and taking the Components out and then coming into contact with the Uranium/Plutonium Material
And so i saw it as a Nuclear Blast where the Inner Blast Radius is Death and Burnt Corpses but then the outer Radius would suffer similar Radioactive Mutating Effects just as coming into contact with the Radioactive Components in Person would be (Uranium/Plutonium) thus the effects on Life outside the Blast Radios of the whole Engineer Courtyard could be different.
I also figured the Crashed Ship would maybe leak some non-activated Urns into the Water that has got inside the Ship and running under the ship and this infection runs down into the Stream where Mold/Fungus was growing overtime and became infected and Evolved into the Spores.
Again once i look at all the evidence, then i may change my mind as this was only based on seeing the Movie 3 times at the Box Office and i have not seen it since late May.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
seems to be a lack of concrete definition about the goo that is leading to different theories. there is no evidence to suggest that the individual motes congregate to create the egg sacs so it could well be that the motes did infact infect and mutate a fungas, as the mutagen is designed for fauna, not flora and fungi is neither so who knows what its effect on fungi would be.
also davids description is pretty vague. he does state that the pathogen comes in many different form which would explain why there would be different urns. one form of the pathogen for say one type of ecosystem and a different one for another and so on. but in his later description this isn't so clear as he talks about its ability to adapt to the host defences such as a humans white blood cells as if it is just one form of pathogen that's highly adaptable, which makes u wonder if it was so adaptable then why have different forms of it?
The 'adaptation' David speaks of in the novel is referring to it's ability to counteract any defense offered up by the hosts immune system. "A genetically engineered counter virus, for example, or the human bodies' own white blood cells would immediately be met by the pathogen adapting itself", he continued, "to counter the counter, and so on."
I know what hes meaning, the point im making is that if the pathogen is so adaptable, why would they need multiple forms of the mutagen? the way david is explaining it suggests there is only need for 1 form of the goo, not various different forms. yet he states that there are indeed many different forms. this can make things very misleading. I believe there r different types of the pathogen but I can also accept why others believe there to be only one
That would all depend on what the Engineers wanted to do with it. Killing all humans would not require exactly the same form as the one that they would use to seed a planet, for example.
that's true and due to what we see in covenant, the purpose of the goo gives weight to there being multiple forms. plus u would think they must have some form of reverse pathogen as it would be a bit lax to create such a weapon without having the means to defend urself
They may have thought through a way to reverse or counteract it. ADF wrote this in the novel - "As you have seen, the seed incubates, mutates, and matures with astonishing speed, until it is reborn. If not controlled, a single application is quite capable of rendering an entire world uninhabitable." - David
This implies that it is possible for the spread of the virus to be controlled, if desired.
u would think it would have been a must when designing the thing. someone surely asked the question 'so what if it gets onto our home world?'
The draft of the Covenant script just leaked shows us that they thought all that through - about the home world having a defese system to prevent contamination entering or leaving - then never used any of it in the movie.
any of what? sorry I haven't read the early script. do u have a link other than the avpg one? im at work and cant access it through the avpg site
Excellent topic Kethol. David's drawing is fantastic.
The topic and comments are a great reference guide to the mutagen described by David 8, what he had access to, and his creations.
Awesome thread. Nice to see all this info collected in one place. Thanks!
Thank you Kethol for compiling and making sense of all the info released thus far :-) You're doing God's work!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."
No problem guys.
@Ali81 - Sorry, the copy I got was from the AVP link too. I'm sure it will get posted elsewhere soon. Great read.
There is some revealing information in John Logan's Alien: Covenant script. Another bit of info giving credence to the "many forms" of the pathogen theory.
"They were as ingenious with their pathogens as they were with everything else. It was designed to infect every living being. Either kill them outright, or mutate into a different lethal form" - David
Plural, not singular. 'Kill outright' or 'mutate' are two forms, but he also says there were 'many forms that were extremely mutable' in the movie. In the script he says "The pathogen took so many forms, and was extremely mutable."
Also, this interesting but about the insect motes.
"The original black liquid turned to lethal particles when exposed to air. Later stages produced parasites and invasive insects. From their eggs came, well... this enviable bestiary."
So the insect variety came later.
This topic is getting so much hate on Aliens Gateway Station I'm temped to start a gofundme to get an Alien-Prometheus documentary made based on this guy's hard work just to piss them off. I mean, why the fuck can't people like, just accept the fact that there are Alien fans out there that are SUCH YUUUG FANS that they like BOTH AVPGalaxy AND SciFied? That they like BOTH Alien Covenant AND Prometheus? That they don't stand for divisive echo-chamber type bullshit and won't give in just because a frothing trash-heap of fucking morons are dogpiling them. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MARINE!
I am not sure what is Aliens Gateway Station? in regards to a site...
If it is a reference to AVPGalaxy then i do see the point, unfortunately at times there seem a bit of dislike between Communities, but it does-not seem to much this site geared towards them, i cant speak for the other way around as i dont really ever visit their site....
Nothing Against it... just i may be tempted to JUMP IN and give my TWO Cents to their Forum and well taking part on TWO Sites could Wear My Keyboard out LOL
I only really notice the rare times i have been on that site to have a look, that there is more like for say Aliens/Cameron than for the Prequels/Ridley Scott but thats not to say Everyone on AVP is Pro Cameron and Anti Ridley Scott..
I just see (and this may be a bit unfair as i dont visit often) that the % on here seems more in Favor of a Prometheus/Ridley Scott than a Aliens/Cameron and Vice Versa on AVPGalaxy.
But both sites have Pro/Anti Cameron/Aliens, and both have Pro/Anti Ridley Scott/Prometheus and you also get Fans who like both Directors and Movies...
Everyone is always Entitled to their own Opinions and Likes/Dislikes ;)
I am more a 66/33 In Favor of Ridley Scott/Prequels... but then i am someone who kind of Sits on the Fence so it seems... i am neither a Left/Right more a 66/33 Kinda Guy. I.E i see the Pros/Cons unobjectionable (75% of the time) regarding sides of a Debate/Fence.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
PS.... Thanks for the Bump!
I failed to come back to this Topic, and as we know more about AC and i have had chance to look at it more, i will have to look at what i put on here... in case i already covered it.
But having seen the Movie More, i believe the Black Goo can be Programed somehow...
What i see in the Bombardment is those Urns are Activated/Programed in a Certain Way were the Pathogen infects the Targets and Replicates and then it Attacks the Targets Molecular Structure where it turns the Organic Material into a Solid (Petrifaction).
The Neomorph Spores are likely the effects of a UN-Activated Urn that has Cracked Open or some other way it Spills the Black Goo into the Stream/Water that runs down the Mountain and Infects Mold/Fungi that has grown and so created a Pathogen Hybrid Spore.
Much like we saw the effects in Prometheus...
There are FLAWS to this though......
1) How come we dont see any Infected/Hybrid Organisms that Live in the Stream/River?
2) How come we dont see any Petrified Birds or other Native Organisms only Engineers?
3) The Bombardment did-not infect all LIFE as David managed to Experiment on some Life he discovered and so the EFFECTS maybe only had a Certain Radius and it was just the Hubris of the Engineers to Put all their Eggs in One Basket (Live in ONE City)
I could try and explain a way around these, but would still have a contradictions.... At the END of the day the Writers NEVER thought so deep about any Contradictions and its a case of Oversight.
The Explanation the Goo has having a Unique Reaction which can KILL outright or Create a Hybrid is a way to Pass Off any Questions about the Effects making it a McGuffin.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
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