Are there dinosaurs in the STAR WARS galaxy?

May 4th, Star Wars Day, has just passed, and what better way to celebrate this timeless saga than with a roundup of aliens clearly inspired by the prehistoric creatures of our planet! Obviously, none of the alien species we see in the films are dinosaurs, nor even prehistoric animals, however, in many cases the inspiration is plain and these will be the creatures we will take into consideration. So fasten your seatbelts and get ready to jump into hyperspace in three, two, one…

Sando aqua monster: it is an enormous creature that reaches up to two hundred meters in length. In the official images, it resembles a mix between an amphibian and a notosaurus. But in the scene in which he appears in Episode I the resemblance to the old depictions of theropods from the mid-20th century is evident.

Vurk: In Episode II for the first time on the big screen we see more than two Jedi activate their swords and fight in the epic arena scene of Geonosis. Among the many that appear we see what is literally a humanoid Parasaurolophus. This alien species in Star Wars is called vurk, their main feature is the crest on the head that grows throughout life. Even in Parasaurolophus the crest changed over time: at birth, it was barely outlined and then over time it took on the classic tube shape. Another peculiarity of the vurk is that of having hands with only three fingers, paradoxically in Parasaurolophus the hand had four fingers. However, it is not known whether in life these might have seemed less like in the case of Edmontosaurus, in fact thanks to the remains of mummies it is now known that in his case the third and fourth toes were joined together to form a hoof.

Varactyl: name aside, which is a mix between monitor lizard (Varanus) and Pterodactyl, the main reason why this alien is part of this list has nothing to do with its lizard-like appearance. Varactyls are reptilian mounts that appear in Episode III and are capable of clinging to rock surfaces thanks to their gecko-like feet. On the head and body, there are what appear to be feathers and the head is equipped with a hooked beak vaguely reminiscent of a bird of prey or parrot. Even if today the association of beak and feathers is a prerogative of birds alone, it was not always like this. In the Mesozoic, they were present in both flying reptiles and dinosaurs. Although most of the feathered dinosaurs were bipedal carnivores, there was no shortage of herbivores or even quadrupedal herbivores with beaks. With a little imagination, it is not difficult to replace the crest of feathers of the varactyl with the bony collar of the skull of a ceratopsid such as Protoceratops. Furthermore, according to some scholars, Protoceratops fossils may have contributed to the birth of the myth of the griffin, another imaginary creature with a beak and feathers.

Tiss-shar (?): in the second episode of the “Kenobi” series a rather singular bounty hunter named Tredgar Volk appears. Now, in the Star Wars galaxy already exists a humanoid alien species with reptilian characteristics which among its ranks includes one of the most famous bounty hunters, obviously, we are talking about the Trandoshans and Bossk specifically. But in the case of the character seen in the series, it can be noted that the reptilian, or rather dinosaurian, traits are much more extreme, and the resemblance to the Velociraptors of Jurassic Park/World is obvious. Furthermore, at the moment the official sources do not report the alien species, which generally does not happen if it is known, even more so if it were one of the most famous ones from the dawn of this saga. However, in materials that are no longer canonical, there were the Tiss-shar, they also are literal anthropomorphic Jurassic Park Velociraptors that match our bounty hunter perfectly. In current canon this species is only mentioned in 2018’s “Star Wars: Smugglers’s Guide” but nothing is known about its appearance, so at the moment the identification is anything but certain. It goes without saying that the design of the Velociraptors from the Jurassic films is somewhat outdated nowadays but their iconic appearance has undoubtedly left its mark even in the galaxy far, far away.

Krayt dragon: in Star Wars folklore this name does not refer to a single species but is a common name for a whole series of gigantic, more or less serpent-shaped, generally carnivorous, and poisonous reptiloid creatures that reside on the planet of Tatooine. In the live-action products, we see a Krayt dragon twice. The first appearance, certainly less memorable but more interesting for the topic we are dealing with, is in episode IV. There in the dunes between one cry and another of C3PO, you can glimpse the bones of a Greater Krayt. If we exclude the skull, which was modeled specifically for the film, the rest of the bones, the vertebrae, are a replica of those of a Diplodocus. Unfortunately, we never see what this species of Krayt looks like in vivo in any current canon media, but in the expanded universe (Legend) it vaguely looks like a sauropod. Furthermore, there is a real-life counterpart to these enormous serpentine skeletons in the desert. In Egypt, the UNESCO site of “Wadi al Hitan” is filled with fossil skeletons of whales. These whales, however, are not similar to modern ones, they are in fact basilosaurids, a family that included predatory animals up to eighteen meters long and which were initially classified as reptiles, in fact, Basilosaurus means “lizard king”. The second appearance of a Krayt dragon occurs in the series “The Mandalorian”. In this case, we do not know the species precisely and in the episode, only the head of the animal is shown, but there are official full-length images of it. From a paleontological point of view, there is not much to say about this variant which is an amalgam of a lizard, a snake, and a goblin shark that has grown out of all proportion and has far too many legs.

Dewback: other reptilian creatures who serve as mounts in Episode IV and live on the desert planet of Tatooine. Apart from their size, the other characteristic that distinguishes them from a generic reptile and brings them closer to dinosaurs are the legs which do not protrude laterally but are placed under the body. It seems like a small thing, but it was the key element that allowed dinosaurs to become gigantic since the body mass was discharged directly to the ground with this configuration of limbs.

Tauntaun: have we reached episode V and couldn’t there be another dinosaur mount? Obviously not! Tauntauns are animals that are clearly the result of the union of a dinosaur and a kangaroo and adorned with horns and thick fur to resist the polar cold of the frozen planet Hoth. It is curious to note that if at the time of their conception, the film was released in 1980, the idea of ​​a “hairy” dinosaur living in harsh climates was something relegatable to science fiction, today it is a practically established reality. There are many kinds of dinosaurs that we are certain lived in areas where there was snow and ice in winter and it is certain that feathered dinosaurs even larger than the tauntauns of the distant, distant galaxy existed.

Blurrg: we understood that Star Wars characters like to be carried around by dinosaurs. So here in the first season of The Mandalorian, we have yet another example. Blurrgs look like a grotesque cross between a Tyrannosaurus, an abyssal fish, and Pacman. In reality, the first appearance of these ungainly creatures dates back to the animated series, in particular “The Clone Wars”, which however we will not analyze in this article. Curiously, in the book “The New Dinosaurs” from 1988, which deals with how dinosaurs could have evolved if they had not become extinct, is mentioned a creature as a descendant of tyrannosaurs which, apart from the “compressed” form, is very reminiscent of blurrgs. Obviously, we remember that birds are dinosaurs so when we talk about their extinction we are referring to all the others.

Mudhorn: this time the dinosaurs have nothing to do with this creature. The mudhorn is basically a rhinoceros with thick fur and a long horn. Now it is time to say that in this case reality has largely surpassed fiction. Until a few tens of thousands of years ago, the day before yesterday in geological terms, there were two species of hairy rhinoceros that became part of popular culture. One is the woolly rhinoceros of the Coelodonta genus, related to modern Sumatran rhinos. But the mudhorn’s real-world counterpart was the Elasmoterium, a colossal beast believed to have a single, enormous horn. However, given that rhino horns are made of keratin, and therefore tend not to fossilize, we are not sure that our giant Ice Age unicorn in life was exactly as it is classically reconstructed. Indeed, in recent years an alternative interpretation has emerged in which the horn has been replaced with a sort of lump. Even the dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus had a similar iconographic evolution.

Sand bat: in the current canon it has the appearance of a flying reptile and is very different from what is seen in the video games of “The Old Republic”, where it appears for the first time, in which it is more reminiscent of a bat. The design seen in “The Book of Boba Fett” is clearly inspired by Dsungaripterus and even the wings are pterosaur-like and not bat-like: you can clearly see the little hands with three fingers and then the fourth to form the rest of the wing. Even the posture on only the hind legs, obviously without hanging, is impracticable for today’s flying mammals but is considered possible for the rulers of the prehistoric skies.

Dinosaur turtle: Maybe it’s because Jon Favreau also worked on “Prehistoric Planet” before the third season of “The Mandalorian”, but the fact is that in the episode entitled “The Apostate” we see this enormous monster with the body of a snapping turtle, and the concepts of the episode show that, initially, the inspiration was not to be limited to that, but from the head that takes liberally from mosasaurs and Dakosaurus. In fact, even if this kaiju makes an ambush just like a modern crocodile, the shape of the head is clearly different: it is not low and elongated with the eyes appearing on the top, but high and flattened transversely and the eyes are lower. This is paradoxical from an ecological point of view because such a conformation of the skull is typical of a swimming animal that chases its prey in the water rather than of an ambush predator that grabs its unaware meal from the shore, nevertheless, we are in Star Wars and therefore that’s fine! Among other things, Dakosaurus was a marine animal related to today’s crocodiles and this makes us understand how varied this group was, which today is often read as having remained unchanged since prehistory. Furthermore, even if there is “dinosaur” in the name, this “turtle” has nothing to do with dinosaurs.

Shriek-hawk: another mix between various animals. These “hawks” appear in the third season of “The Mandalorian” and are very dangerous predators. In the episode, we see both an adult and its chicks. The monster is an amalgam of bat, dinosaur, and pterosaur characteristics. To be honest, they are very reminiscent of the Dimorphodons that appear in “Jurassic World” even if in this case the film counterpart is decidedly not faithful to the real one. The head of the Shriek-hawk certainly has some details that recall the skull of a bird of prey, but overall it cannot fail to recall the old life-size dinosaur statues, often slightly deformed, that can be seen in children’s parks. In the Star Wars universe, a stylized version of the silhouette of this creature is the symbol of the clan Vizla.

Trinitaur: creature of titanic proportions that lives on the surface of the planet Mandalore. His debut is in the seventh episode of the third season of “The Mandalorian”. Unfortunately, you only see it for a few seconds and there is never a full view but from what little you can see it seems that the body and tail resemble those of an extra large ankylosaur, while the head has very vague references to those of Carnotaurus, could this be the reason for the name? In the series, he is seen destroying a ship with a heavy blow from the top down. Studies carried out on the ankylosaur club indicate that vertical mobility must have been quite limited and in all likelihood it was used with large horizontal sweeping movements.

Mythosaur: despite the name suggesting that it is a sort of dinosaur and despite its very important role in the Star Wars lore, it is currently not possible to classify it in any way. From that fleeting scene in which the eye is framed in the finale of the third season of “The Mandalorian”, it seems like a reptilian creature and we know that it is of considerable size. The depictions of its skull which clearly show the head of the animal in life are not of much help, on the contrary, they only make it clear that the head is very strange and does not match any particular animal. In “The Bounty Hunter Code” there is a full-body image of him that can be traced back to a generic dinosaur, but this book is a legend and the skull does not match what is seen in live action, so we will have to keep waiting.

That’s all for now, but there are many other unanalyzed creatures that appear exclusively in the animated series, not to mention the comic books and the new live-action products soon to be released. So rest assured that there is certainly no shortage of material for new articles on the subject and that there will always continue to be a bit of prehistory in the galaxy far, far away…

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