The Neomorph was an endoparasitoid extraterrestrial species encountered by the crew of the USCSS Covenant. While they share some characteristics with the Xenomorph XX121, most notably their process of gestating inside a living host organism and their elongated heads, they are otherwise quite different.
Two of the creatures were encountered by the crew of the Covenant after landing on the planet where David conducted his biological experiments.
The Neomorphs were the result of the local ecosystem on the planet to which David traveled after leaving LV-223 becoming altered by the black liquid. Specifically, the liquid caused small, black, spherical, fungus-like egg sacks to form on the ground. When disturbed, these egg sacks would release a cloud of microscopic insect-like spores (motes) into the air that would then enter a host organism through any open orifice — such as the nostrils or ear canal. Once a host is infected with the airborne contagion, the spores would enter the bloodstream and proceed to cause a Bloodburster to grow inside of them until they violently puncture the skin and claw their way out of the host's body. This process is notably similar to the Xenomorph Chestburster, although the exact point of emergence varies depending on how the host was infected. As with Xenomorphs, the appearance and characteristics of the Neomorph depend on what sort of animal it was spawned from.
When spawned from a human host, the creature is born with arms and legs and initially moves in a quadrupedal manner, reminiscent of a Runner, but as they grow, the Neomorph adopts a bipedal stance. Notably, the creature is born with a bulbous head but as it grows its head grows more elongated and pointy. The creature has pale, white-grey skin with a somewhat translucent appearance, attributes that resemble those of a Hammerpede. The Neomorph features a fleshy tail tipped with spikes, which can be used as a devastating slashing and battering weapon, and a large number of silvery fangs in their mouth, which appears circular when closed. Notably, individual Neomorphs appear to display physical variance. For instance, one of the creatures featured a pair of sharp, bony dorsal spikes on their back that assisted them in breaking out of their host, whereas the other individual encountered lacked these features. Their blood is thick and yellow in colour, but notably not acidic.
In terms of behaviour, the Neomorph is far more feral and animal-like than a typical Xenomorph, to the point that even their newborn form is highly aggressive and will attack anyone on sight. Their animalistic nature may suggest a lack of intelligence in comparison to their counterpart. However, they have been seen to be capable of stealth, as the Neomorph that killed Rosie snuck up on her and did nothing until she turned around, which it then regarded her for a moment before suddenly killing her. Whether this was deliberate stealth tactics or just the creature being morbidly curious is debatable. Unlike the Xenomorphs, Neomorphs are more organic in appearance and lack biomechanical aspects. Neomorphs are notably seen consuming the flesh of humans they have killed, whilst Xenomorphs have not been depicted doing this.
As dangerously aggressive as they are, they are frequently seen to attack their preys to feed, indicating that they need to consume flesh often to survive, unlike Xenomorphs which do not need to feed as often thanks to their blood functioning like a living battery within their bodies.
Unlike a typical Xenomorph, Neomorphs do not possess an extendable inner jaw which can be used to attack, instead their "gums" extend out in a manner similar to the Deacon. Also, while the teeth of a Xenomorph's outer jaws are usually visible, a Neomorph's jawline is almost invisible when closed.
According to David, the Engineer's black liquid mutagen was intended to create hybrid creatures like the Neomorph that would instinctively hunt down and kill all non-botanical, animal life in an ecosystem - "the meat". Notably, when one Neomorph encountered David, it apparently recognized that he was a synthetic android - and thus instead of attacking him, simply stood still and regarded him -- although a Neomorph had previously bitten off Walter's arm when he attacked it. Xenomorphs, in contrast, have been observed attacking synthetics - possibly another example of their greater intelligence compared to Neomorphs, whose behaviour seems to be based more on animal instinct.
- Main article: Egg sack
The initial stage in the Neomorphs' life cycle is the egg sack, a fungal-like growth found in clusters throughout Planet 4 as a result of their contamination with the mutagenic Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 pathogen.
If and when the egg sack is damaged or otherwise disturbed by a potential host, they release a cluster of spore-like motes that conglomerate into an airborne mass. The motes possess a rudimentary hive intelligence and infect the nearest viable host organism through an orifice such as an auditory canal or nostril. The motes themselves are extremely small in appearance, no larger than a grain of sand, though they can still be vaguely visible when clustered together. They appear to be extremely tiny parasitic insects when viewed under David's microscope.
- Main article: Bloodburster
Once inside a host organism, the motes burrow into their body, extend an ovipositor, and inject "eggs". These eggs re-write the DNA of the host and instigates the growth of an amniotic sac, within which the larval "Bloodburster" rapidly gestates in a matter of hours, before violently emerging and killing the host organism. If the amniotic sac is located in a difficult-to-emerge-from location, the Bloodburster can use the sharp dorsal spines and pointed head to pierce and rip through flesh and bone.
Voracious carnivores, the larval Neomorphs will attack and devour any prey, growing rapidly and reaching full maturity in a matter of hours. In their juvenile stage Neomorphs are small and quadrupedal, but upon reaching maturity are large and bipedal.
It is unknown if adult Neomorphs are capable of producing new egg sacks, and if so how this process occurs. It is possible that they can egg-morph or use a Queen just as Xenomorphs do.
Following David's attack on the Engineer settlement with the Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 pathogen, the Neomorphs were one of the hybridized parasitic organisms to arise from the mutagen contaminating the planet's ecosystem. David's laboratory in the lower levels of the Engineer temple contains specimens of each stage of the Neomorphs' life cycle; and several immature and embryonic Neomorph specimens, the failed results of his biogenetic experiments to create the perfect organism.
Two members of the Covenant's security detail, Ledward and Hallett, were infected by the spores, Ledward through his ear and Hallett through his nose. Both men were killed when the creatures emerged from them; the infant inside Ledward ripped out of the man's back while he was being treated aboard the Covenant's dropship, while the infant Neomorph inside Hallett erupted from the man's mouth. The Neomorph spawned from Ledward attacked and heavily mauled Karine before attacking Faris, escaping when the latter accidentally destroyed the dropship in an attempt to kill it. Both Neomorphs ran off into the night, while the surviving crew members were left stranded in the wheat field.
Soon afterwards, the two Neomorphs returned attacked the crew. When one of the Neomorphs leaped at Daniels, Walter tackled the creature, before having his hand bitten off. The creature then struck Walter with its tail, throwing him aside before redirecting its attention to the rest of the crew. The security officers attempted to shoot the creature dead, but this only angered it, causing it to lash out and strike Ankor with its tail, mutilating his face and killing him. It then attacked Daniels before being shot dead by Rosie. Seconds later, the second Neomorph appeared and attacked Rosie, taking her to the ground. The Neomorph nearly mauled her to death, but she was saved when David fired a flare gun into the air, scaring it off.
The second creature survived to maturity, infiltrating David's temple and killing Rosie by tearing off her head with its jaws. The Neomorph was discovered feeding on her corpse by David, who attempted to communicate with and tame it. Chris Oram arrived moments later. Against David's wishes, an enraged Oram shot the creature dead.
Behind the Scenes
The name "Neomorph" was first accidentally revealed by actor Michael Fassbender in an interview with Mark Goodier on BBC Radio 2, broadcast on October 20, 2016. Four days later, AvPGalaxy published an exclusive article revealing more about the creatures. The creature has been described by the production crew as a new, "natural" variation of the Xenomorph. The Neomorph's physical appearance has been noted as being similar to the Beluga-Xenomorph from the early Prometheus script Alien: Engineers. Moreover, the means by which hosts are infected through airborne contagion bears notable similarities to aspects of William Gibson's unproduced script for Alien3, in which the regular Xenomorph develops an ability to procreate via an airborne form.
- The Neomorph's physiology was inspired by the Goblin Shark. Its teeth are able to come forward when attacking prey, so as to do more damage by pointing directly out, allowing for better grip. The creature's mouth when closed appears similar to that of an anal sphincter.
- In addition to this, its appearance seems to have been taken from the Beluga-morph from the early Prometheus concepts.
- Upon emergence, the Neomorph greatly resembles a Runner chestburster, having limbs and moving quadrupedally. It becomes more humanoid and bipedal upon maturity.
- According to the director Ridley Scott, the Neomorph is the first generation of Alien.
- The word Neo is a prefix from Ancient Greek, meaning "new, young".
- The extended material of the Alien: Covenant Blu-ray, contains scenes from David's lab known as "Advent". This short video shows David mixing various parts from Neomorphs and possibly Shaw's mutated eggs, using black goo as a catalyst, in order to create his Xenomorph eggs.
- There are notable differences between the Neomorph from the film and the NECA figure; the film version has smaller spikes on its back and a longer jaw while NECA version has shorter jaw and 2 long spikes on its back. That's because NECA has been provided with concept art by Colin Shulver.