Although the Star Wars films are set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it seems that they’ve got some relations here on Earth.
The BBC have put together a list of the aliens of Star Wars that have a supposed relative here on earth. They say there’s some of the weird and wonderful alien creatures in the films are quite similar to real animals both past and present… Although admittedly they’ve had to stretch the definition of ‘real life’ to make some of them fit…
These gigantic shaggy creatures made their debut in the original Star Wars and are used on the desert planet Tatooine to carry shit that the lazy Tatoonian moisture farmers can’t be arsed to carry.
The closest thing that we’ve ever had on Earth is probably the woolly mammoth, an extinct species that once wandered the frozen northern hemisphere.
The two creatures look awfully similar, they’re both shaggy, they’ve got tusks and minus a trunk they could be the same thing. What’s weird is that the mammoth was woolly to keep it warm as it strolled the glaciated north. However Bantha’s live in the desert, the poor buggers must’ve been sweating their bollocks off, you’d expect them to look more like camels really.
Everyone remembers the Tauntaun from The Empire Strikes Back, it’s the stinky donkey dinosaur thing that Luke rides round Hoth. The ugly looking things have a dirty white fur, which makes sense with them living in the snow. But humans riding them seems a bit impractical.
Most animals we ride are quadrupeds, it helps them support our weight, but Tauntauns are bipedal, meaning they hold their arms in front of them like a T-Rex. This means all their weight is supported by their hind legs. So when Luke got on it’s surprising the poor thing didn’t just collapse. That said there is one bipedal animal that humans can and do ride, and it’s probably as close as you’ll get on Earth. You can ride ostriches, so if a giant chicken can handle the weight, presumably Tauntauns can too.
I’m sure we all remember the famous Exogorths, but for those who don’t, they’re the giant worm that tries to munch on the Millennium Falcon when they stop on an asteroid in The Empire Strikes Back.
It’s unlikely that any asteroids are home to giant worms but there are a number of animals here on Earth that do spend most of their time in burrows only popping out to feed. The Moray Eel is probably the closest thing to the Exogorth on Earth, it’s a real nasty bastard that lies in wait and ambushes fish as they swim by their hiding holes.
Jabba The Hutt
As memorable and cruel as Jabba was, I could never get over the fact that he was basically a slug with arms. Surely Luke and Leia could have just popped into his palace and poured salt on the bastard before rescuing Han from the carbonite?
But could a slug ever grow as large as Jabba? Well the giant African land snail can sometimes reach 30cm. So unless you’re afraid of a gangster the size of a ruler he probably couldn’t exist. Technically slugs and snails are molluscs, so we can probably count octopuses and clams as well.
The largest mollusc is colossal squid, which can reach 12m long, which makes it even bigger than Jabba. However they don’t really count because most of the length is made up of tentacles, and they can only grow so long because they live underwater. So a real life Jabba may struggle to run his criminal empire from inside his glass tank.
These popped us as Jabba’s preferred execution method of dropping his victims into the Sarlacc where: “In his belly you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.” Well, terrifyingly, the Sarlacc actually does exist. Reassuringly though, it’s only big enough to eat bugs.
In the real world they’re called antlions. The larvae of these insects prey on ants, and to catch them they build traps. antlions dig small pits in the sand, a few centimetres deep.
The pit has a very specific slope at an angle, known as the critical angle of repose. It is as steep as it can possibly be without collapsing, and the slightest disturbance will send sand tumbling to the bottom. This means that any poor ant that wanders into the pit will find itself sliding into the depths where the antlion is waiting for its tea.