The Yautja, (pronounced Ya-OOT-ja), known colloquially as the Predators or Hunters, are an extraterrestrial species characterized by their hunting of other dangerous species for sport and honor, including humans. The Yautja are a sentient, humanoid race that breathe an atmosphere similar to that of Earth's, but possess a level of technological advancement far in excess of anything available to humans. The Predators stalk and kill their prey using a combination of highly advanced technology, such as active camouflage and energy weapons, combined with comparatively primitive traditional weapons, such as blades, spears and nets. The Predators often ritualistically mutilate their prey and usually claim a trophy from their kills. Capable of interstellar travel in star ships, the Predators have hunted on Earth for centuries and have also had prior contact with the Engineers.
Aside from their repeated conflicts with humans, the Predators have notably been associated with Xenomorph XX121, known to them as kiande amedha ("hard meat"), whom they revere as perhaps the most worthy of all prey. They have been known to deliberately breed the creatures from captive Queens in order to hunt them, often as part of initiation rituals for young Predators.
Predators are bipedal humanoids, physically distinguishable from humans by their greater height, the long, hair-like appendages on their heads (nicknamed dreadlocks), their reptilian skin and their faces, which feature arthropod-like mandibles and no visible nose. The biological purpose of the distinctive mandibles is unclear – some have proposed they may be used in reproduction or mating rituals. They may also be a vestigial piece of anatomy, as noted by Lex Woods, who compares it to the human appendix. Yautja use them to convey emotions; for example, flared mandibles apparently signify anger or surprise, mandibles clicking together can signify interest or curiosity, and Yautja have even been said to "grin" with them. Predators have also been known to employ their mandibles as weapons, using them to inflict grievous bite wounds on their opponent. As well as the fleshy dreadlocks around the side of the head, some Predators have also been seen to possess sparse, quills on their cheeks and above the eyes.
While generally uniform, each Yautja's physical appearance includes a number of subtle variations, akin to human genetic diversity. Similarly, while Predator heights vary, they are typically over 7 feet tall, although some have been known to grow to 8 feet or even taller. Despite this, shorter individuals have been recorded, such as Mahnde or the aptly-named Shorty, who stood the height of a typical human. These individuals are unusual and their smaller height the subject of ridicule in Yautja society. The species' reptile-like skin can range in color from light to dark, be mottled or clear, and can appear dry or moist and clammy.
Class, Reproduction and Life Cycle
Sources on what species class Yautja's are the most adjacent to vary, however many note that they have reptilian characteristics that may be more than superficial. Along with scaley skin, their armor features a wire mesh designed to keep the wearer warm; it is noted to be very uncomfortable for humans, even at the lowest setting. However, some Yautja do not have this mesh and it may not be that Yautja's are reptilian, per se, but rather that they are simulating the environment of their homeworlds which are said to be arid.
Yautja are a dual-sexed species, though most encounters with humans have been with male individuals. The species has a breeding season, in which female Yautjas will choose the most skillful males to sire their offspring. Presumably, males return to their homeworlds for this event as females do not go off-world as much as males or for the same reasons. Young Yautja, called Sucklings, are born to females after an unknown amount of time. Females are shown to have mammary glands and Dachande was able to recognize them for what they were in humans, which would suggest Yautja are somewhat mammalian in addition to having repitilian traits. Young Yautja appear to be born live; there has been no evidence that they are hatched from any kind of egg.
It is not clear which of the two sexes brings up the offspring, and it may even be possible that neither parent raises their children when they are very young. According to Dachande's accounts, Yautja seem to have a "village-raising" approach to parenthood. He and his half-sibling had different mothers, yet were in constant company and very close, which is uncommon for half-siblings with different sires. For Yautja with common bloodlines, this could be the case throughout their upbringing, however males who have esteemed bloodlines are much more involved with how their offspring are developing. A Yautja is said to reach physical adulthood at about 50-60 years of age, which is the age equivalent of an 18-19 year old human. However, until they are Blooded, their clan still considers them unable to hunt without supervision and limits their privledges within the clan.
Yautjas can live to be thousands of years old and are one of the longer-lived species recorded. The only species known to live longer are the Drukathi and certain strains of Xenomorph, such as the Queen.
Yautja are highly resilient to physical damage, capable of recovering from multiple gunshot wounds with minimal or even no medical attention and surviving radiation doses which would be fatal to humans. They are also highly resilient to most bacteria and viruses. They are incredibly strong, easily capable of outmatching a conditioned adult human male in unarmed combat and able to land blows that can shatter solid concrete. They are capable of tearing a human's head and spine from the body with little effort, while some larger specimens have even been seen to tear a human body in half using only their bare hands.
This strength evidently extends to their lower bodies as well, as Predators have been seen to jump up to three times their own height, and are capable of falling up to ten times their height and landing safely on their feet. They are skilled climbers, and in fact appear to prefer moving at height through trees or across rooftops in pursuit of prey, typically jumping from one vantage point to the next. Though capable of surviving exposure in Antarctic temperatures for an extended period of time, it seems as though Predators have a preference for hot equatorial climates.
According to Isabella Borgia, Yautja possess "superior genetic material" compared to humans that, if used correctly, could enhance humanity as a species. The augmentation of Hunter Borgia was one such project carried out in this regard, although the genetic experimentation was not completed before Hunter was slain by the Yautja known as Scarface. Nevertheless, Yautja genes are evidently "potent" enough that, when one is impregnated with a Xenomorph Chestburster, the resulting creature adopts more pronounced physical characteristics from its host than might otherwise be expected – such as dreadlocks and mandibles – leading to the distinctive Predalien caste.
Their blood is luminescent phosphor green in color, and has the capacity to partially neutralize the acidity of Xenomorph blood. It has also been known to bestow significant life-giving properties on humans, capable of extending a person's lifespan well beyond what would normally be possible. It is thought Yautja may be cold-blooded, hence their documented affinity for hot, humid conditions and the thermal netting built into their suits.
Predators' vision operates mainly in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; they can easily detect heat differentials in their surroundings, but are unable to easily distinguish among objects of the same relative temperature; this is debatable, however, as the City Hunter can still easily distinguish objects from one another after Harrigan removes his mask. A Predator's helmet or bio-helmet greatly increases its ability to see in a variety of spectrums, ranging from the low infrared to the high ultraviolet, and also filters ambient heat from the area, allowing them to distinguish prey with greater clarity and detail. While they are seemingly capable of breathing Earth's atmosphere, they have been known to use some form of breathing apparatus in the event of losing their bio-helmet.
Predators' dietary habits are not clearly established, although the City Hunter that stalked Los Angeles was known to visit a slaughterhouse in the city every two days to feed on the meat stored there, suggesting a carnivorous or perhaps omnivorous diet. Another Predator was seen skinning and eating muskrats, and another one was observed eating the roots of an Earth plant. It was speculated that he was guided to the root either through instinct or scent.. In one instance, a contamination, caused by Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15, drove a mutated Predator to cannibalize one of the last surviving members of its own hunting squad.
While the maximum or typical lifespan of a Predator is not known, it is accepted as being well in excess of human lifespans, and it has been implied that Predator Elders can live for hundreds to thousands of years. One predator, called Kalakta, is said to be thousands of years old. He comments that human life "hurries as if eager" to its end, in comparison to a Yautja's lifespan..
Speech, language and communication
- Main article: Yautja language
Predators possess their own language, both in spoken and written form, the former of which resembles a series of clicks, roars, snarls and growls. They also have dialects, which deviate sharply enough from the Yautja common tongue that translators cannot make heads or tails of it. The written language is expressed in a pattern of dashes not dissimilar in form and function to many Earth-based languages. These written symbols appear on the creatures' gauntlet displays, helmets, architecture and many other surfaces. Predators regularly imitate human speech that they overhear. It is unclear to what degree the Yautja can comprehend this speech, although the creatures at least seem to hold some understanding of the language as they have been known to repeat phrases at vaguely appropriate times as a form of communication with prey. Older Predators with more experience among humans have on occasion been known to actually learn to speak English, at least to a limited extent.
It has been known for humans and Yautja to successfully communicate using sign language.
There is evidence that Yautja understand the concept of humor. For example, during events on Bouvet Island, the Predator Scar deliberately caused a deceased Xenomorph to shoot out its inner jaw and startle Lex, and her shock and fear apparently gave Scar some amusement. According to Machiko Noguchi, laughter is universal – even in their species – and the Predator equivalent of a belly laugh is the rapid clicking of tusks.
Additionally, as demonstrated by the Jungle and City Hunters, while individual Yautjas make different sounds, a very common sound emitted by them is a high pitched, human-like shriek (mainly while using their MediKits to dress their wounds).
When given a compliment from a higher authority, similarly ranked Yautja will touch the hair of the complimentee in acknowledgement.
Precursors to the Yautja were the Hish-qu-Ten (or simply 'Hish'), ancient ancestors of the species who were present several millennia ago on Yautja Prime. The Hish supposedly did not differ too far cosmetically from the Yautja, though they were shorter, and far more primitive and intellectually underdeveloped.
At some point, the Hish were subject to a planetary-scale invasion from the advanced insectoid race known as the Amengi. The Amengi decimated the Hish, and subsequently subjugated them to a slave race under their global rule for centuries to come. The Hish were treated atrociously by their rulers, with the Amengi using them for slave labor, food, experiments, and a means of entertainment (specifically for hunts or fighting competitions).
However, militarily soft from years of luxury, the Amengi were suddenly overthrown and slaughtered in a brutal and bloody slave-uprising, orchestrated by Kaail, an unusually large and intelligent Hish who remains a legendary figure in Yautja lore. Despite their advanced technology, the Amengi were thoroughly overwhelmed by Kaail and his rebels, and those not slaughtered outright, were themselves enslaved.
The Hish would go on to seize the Amengi's technology for themselves, adopting it into their own culture and eventually creating an unusual blend of both advanced science and primaeval savagery. Possibly inspired by the Amengi's sporting hunts, the Hish would seemingly integrate hunting into their ways - this venator-culture would eventually define the Hish/Yautja way of life and would continue for generations. Eventually, the Hish people would become the Yautja.
- "Funny, those things are way past us technologically - their ships make the space shuttle look like a matchbox toy, and yet they get off hunting and killing. I wonder why?
Maybe they're just like us. Technology removes us from our true selves - takes us away from the beast inside. Maybe the hunt is their way of keeping the beast alive."
- ―Detectives Rosche and John Schaefer (from Predator: Concrete Jungle)
Yautja technology is distinctive in many respects, not least of which is its unusual combination of ornate, tribal appearance masking deadly, sophisticated weaponry. However, despite the species' obvious technological prowess, including access to adaptive camouflage and plasma weaponry, traditional, ancient weapons, such as blades, knives and spears, are still employed widely (and apparently considered by the Yautja as being more "honorable" than advanced technology).
At least one Yautja weapon uses a metal that does not correspond to any known element on the periodic table, and many devices have been shown to be completely resistant to the effects of the acidic blood of Xenomorphs, an otherwise incredibly corrosive and destructive substance. With this said however, the Wristblades and chest armor of immature Young Blood Yautja are still made of metal that is not resistant to Xenomorph blood; it seems such advanced armor must be "earned" through initiation rituals that first test the individual's prowess with more rudimentary and challenging equipment. Many of the Yautja's tools make use of thermal imaging to track prey, while some aspects of their technology have been in use for millennia. Individuals of the species will often utilize their own bespoke variations of tried and tested Yautja weapons, constructed from different materials and with varying degrees of tribal or symbolic ornamentation.
As noted in one of Isabelle's recordings in Predator: Hunting Grounds, however, the Yautja do not have engineers or scientists for their technology, thus they do not do maintenance; if something breaks, they abandon that piece of tech. Isabelle further notes that while the technology works for them, they do not know HOW it works for them.
- "They like the heat dammit, the sport. Leave 'em be in two, three, they'll be gone. Mess with them, and god only knows what might happen."
- ―General Phillips regarding the Predators
- Main article: Hunt
Yautja culture centers on the ritualistic hunting of other dangerous lifeforms, and this practice appears to be the foundation of their very society. Predators will travel huge distances – even across entire galaxies – in order to face opponents they consider a worthy challenge, and may also kidnap and transport prey across similar distances to bring such victims to a hunting ground of their choice.
Defeat in a Hunt is apparently a cause of great shame to the Yautja, and often leads to the individual committing honorable suicide, typically through the detonation of their Wrist Gauntlet's Self-Destruct Device. Upon their death, a hunting Yautja's spacecraft will return to the species homeworld on automatic pilot so that a record of the individual's Hunt, recorded through their bio-helmet, may be returned to its kin.
The Yautja have a Code of Honor during the hunt that it expects all members of the species to adhere to on pain of not being seen as a "true Yautja" and therefore subject to being destroyed. Therefore, most Yautja are moulded around that code, being ruthless but honorable, with the exception of Bad Bloods. Aggression and arrogance seems to be innate in Hunters, especially young males.
The Yautja society appears to be a heavily gendered one; even the names of the Predators tend to have masculine and feminine connotations, similar to many romantic language such as spanish. Male names often end with 'e' (i.e: Dachande, Tichinde, Skemte, Nakande, ect.) while female names tend to end with 'i' (i.e: Vagouti, Hashori). Dachande even nicknames Machiko Noguchi "Da'dtou-di", which is the feminine form of that name.
Society and Population
Yautja society operates a class or ranking system, nominally based on an individual's hunting experience and prowess. Their titles include:
- Un-Blooded: The un-refined hunters of the future, Unblooded Yautja are young predators who haven't completed basic training. They are, or are close to, physically mature adults. Most Unblooded, and therefore subsequent classes, are male but female hunters do exist, implying a minority of them within the hunting body.
- Young Blood: Young adults Yautja who yet to be seen as "adults" and "true hunters" in the eyes of the clanmates. These hunters are refined enough to overpower a skilled human fighter, however their skill against a Xenomorph varies. Once they kill one, Yautja mark themselves with Xenomorph blood, completing their initiation into Adulthood.
- Blooded: These Yautja have successfully killed their first Xenomorph and given it is such a broad title, skills vary. Once a Yautja is blooded, females will begin to pay him mind for breeding purposes and his rank could deviate into more specific ones.
- Elite: Elites encompass the more dangerous of the Yautja race. They have the skill to take on several Xenomorph at once, including large, dangerous castes such as Praetorians, Predaliens and even Queens. Elites seem to take on some of the more nuanced, lengthy, and taxing problems and missions in the Yautja world. These can be assigned, as in the case of Dark, or self-volunteered, as in the cast of Wolf.
- Leader: A Leader is a Yautja who has been selected or volunteers to lead and teach Un-Blooded hunters. They appear to be a specialized version of the Elite rank.
- Elder: The Older, wiser members of the Yautja race. Many of them are Clan Leaders. Two Elders have been seen onscreen thus far and both have gifted non-predator species with mementos of a good hunt.
- Ancient: Ancients are very old Yautja, some of which are responsible for creating the laws by which the species abides. To this end, they use Enforcers to put an end to crime, both within and without the species.
- Matriarch: A Matriarch is the female counterpart to a Clan Leader. While Clan Leaders rule in off-world affairs, Matriarchs rule and command Yautja Prime and presumably any other world they inhabit. Among one of the highest titles in the species.
History with Earth
The Yautja have a long and involved history with humans on Earth, dating back to ancient times. Evidence suggests the Yautja influenced the development of early human civilizations, including the Ancient Egyptians, the Khmer Empire, the Aztecs and a largely undocumented culture inhabiting what is now modern day Bouvetøya in Antarctica. Upon their arrival in ancient times, the Predators were worshipped as gods by the primitive peoples of Earth, and they in turn taught these early humans how to construct pyramids (explaining why so many ancient civilizations share distinctly similar cultures and architecture). These pyramids and temples were then used as hunting grounds by the Yautja, typically for initiation Hunts involving the Xenomorphs, which would be bred through the use of sacrificial human hosts that the civilizations would provide.
These rite of passage Hunts were conducted every 100 years on Earth. Each Young Blood taking part would be expected to return with the head of a Xenomorph killed in hand-to-hand combat. Were the young hunters successful in these trials, they would use the acid of their foes to sear a clan marking or other symbol into their bio-helmet and foreheads. On the other hand, should they fail and the hunting grounds be overrun with Xenomorphs, the Yautja were expected to activate their Self-Destruct Devices, dying honorably and eliminating all trace of the Xenomorph infestation.
Not all Hunts on Earth were conducted in such a manner. Yautja also visited the planet to hunt humans as well. In fact, the species has been linked with the destruction of the ancient Mayans in Central America. Yautja individuals have also hunted humans during the Renaissance, in North America prior to its colonization by the European nations, in New Way City in 1930, on Iwo Jima during WWII, in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, in Beiruit, in Guatemala during the late 1980s, in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s and Neonopolis in 2030, as well as numerous other occasions. A Predator also travelled to earth in 2004 to clean up a Xenomorph outbreak in Gunnison, Colorado resulting from a failed Hunt in Antarctica earlier in the year.
Throughout history, Predators have also abducted humans from Earth for staged Hunts on at least one game preserve planet that they control in an undefined region of space. This particular means of hunting prey seems to be utilized primarily by the Super Predators.
Views on Non-Predator Races
Several sources, particularly the novels written by S. D. Perry, have painted Predators in a supremacist light when it comes to other species, with most, if not all species merely viewed as prey to hunt. According to Aliens vs. Predator: Prey, Yautja depict humans as a sort of "boogieman" and in War, there is a clear discrimination against Machiko Noguchi even though she is a Blooded hunter who had slain a Queen. Machiko herself describes them as Xenophobic and bigoted. Yautja generally don't interact with other intelligent species outside of hunting purposes, and even then, there are strict rules on how to go about doing this. The Hish-qu-Ten took the Amengi species as a slave race, forcing them to build their spacecraft.
However, some Predators have shown willingness to work with humans without much hesitance. Scar was one such hunter, deciding to escape the underground pyramid together with Lex Woods. Big Mama and Caryn Delacroix worked together to defeat several enemies in Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species. This may indicate Xenophobia isn't common to all Clans, just some or most.
Views on Humans
Despite being significantly smaller and weaker than them, all wise Yautja consider certain humans to be dangerous game. 'Oomans' were reputed less for their physical strength, and more for their cunning and craftiness, feats that were not to be underestimated by even the most prolific of hunters. Humans seem to be the basis of scary stories told to youngsters, with at least one Un-Blooded, Gkyaun, growing up frightened of the species; his eventual encounter with humans was rather anticlimactic, as he was shocked at their feebleness.
It is likely that views on humans vary from clan to clan, though it is seemingly unanimous that they are considered worthy game and a formidable threat, in spite of their perceived inferiority.
Yautja are generally not physically attracted to humans, to the point a naked human female would not even arouse a young male unblooded. In fact, the idea of doing anything sexual with a human is disgusting, if Shorty's reaction to Machiko sarcastically telling him she wishes him to father her children is anything to go by. That reaction, however, could be credited to their mutual hatred of one another.
The Chopper Predator was fascinated with humans, particularly their self-destructive nature. This, however, is rather odd, as Yautja themselves can be fairly self-destructive when it comes to restoring lost honor.
According to The Predator, at least one clan of Yautja found humanity worthy enough to splice them with their own DNA. This is at odds with other established canon; for instance, Hunter Borgia was a human made Yautja-Human hybrid that was put to death by Scarface.
The Isolated Clan viewed humans as a strange mixture of students, servants, and cattle, teaching them to build pyramids but also sacrificing them so that their Blooding ritual could commence. They also felt nothing of wiping out an entire civilization over night if they failed in defeated the Xenomorphs spawned. Generations later, little has changed. The crew that went exploring in Antarctica were lured there to be host to the Yautja so that they could hunt. However, Scar later teamed up with and marked Lex Woods as a Blooded hunter equal to himself before dying.
Relationship with Xenomorphs
Of all their prey, the Yautja apparently have a special hunting relationship with the Xenomorphs (which they refer to as "Serpents"). They seem to consider the voracious alien lifeforms to be the "ultimate prey" and correspondingly have a reverence for the creatures. Large statues of Xenomorphs can often be found in and around Yautja hunting temples and ruins. The Yautja have been known to specifically breed the creatures at numerous sites for use in the initiation Hunts undertaken by Young Bloods, infecting the local fauna and then engaging with the resulting creatures. To this end, the Yautja are known to capture and imprison Xenomorph Queens, using their Eggs to breed lesser castes. However, this procedure of acquiring a Queen is extremely dangerous, and will usually entail the deaths of several hunters. In fact, Queen hunts are so perilous for a Clan that some aspects of the Yautja Honor Code have been known to be suspended for the purpose of capturing a Queen, notably in the allowance of the use of specific weapons not normally granted in a hunt. Some of these captured Queens have apparently been imprisoned for tens of thousands of years.
Some human scientists studying the two races have even theorized that the Predators may have had a hand in creating the Xenomorph species, although such concepts are not widely accepted as anything more than speculation. Even so, the Yautja clearly have a significant understanding of the Xenomorphs, and obviously have far greater respect for and control over the creatures than humans; whereas human attempts to capture and study the Xenomorphs have routinely resulted in disastrous breaches of quarantine and significant loss of life, the Predators have successfully entombed and utilized Queens for thousands of years with relatively few major incidents.
In the Expanded Universe
- For a complete expanded universe history of the Predator's known activities, see Timeline
Predators breathe 1% more oxygen, and 4% more nitrogen than humans and are capable of adapting themselves to Earth's atmosphere for one week at the most if deprived of a breathing apparatus. Predator blood has the capacity of partially neutralizing the acidity of Alien blood, their blood is a luminous cyan color,and, if Predator flesh and blood, were consumed, is known to have the capacity of greatly lengthening a human's lifespan.
While the maximum lifespan of a Predator is unknown, the species has been known to live for hundreds to thousands of years. It has been implied that one or two centuries is considered young for the species, with relative adolescents of the species not even going on their first Xenomorph hunt before they attain an age of few centuries. Most, however, do not reach senescence due to the rigors of their dangerous and semi-nomadic lifestyle.
Some Predators, referred to as "Hish", have been known to possess a gland located between their neck and collarbone which secretes powerful hormones into their bloodstream and which drives them to hyper-aggression. When this gland is over-stimulated, it sends the creatures into a frenzied rage, causing them to attempt killing any living thing in sight, including members of their own species. This "kill rage" can be contagious and spread from one Predator to another, driving them all to attack each other. These Predators barely survived the wars provoked by their kill glands, and they have learned to control the gland's secretions with artificial hormone regulators.
Males and Females
- "The females smile upon a brave male more often than they did others."
- ― Dachande considers female Yautja, AVP: Prey
Some Predator females (called "Brooders" in the Hish tongue) have been known to be larger and stronger than males along with having spikes on the elbows and back in some cases, Hashori being one such female. and sporting more prominent mammary glands (like human females). Other Predator females have been witnessed who superficially show little distinction from males in size. Big Mama, a female predator, has been seen in the nude, the image suggesting the female predator reproductive anatomy and female human reproductive anatomy do not differ, at least superficially. Male predators have comparable anatomy to a male human, or at least both are phallic and designed for penetration. Male predators also have visible gonads, again comparable to most mammals, who have exterior testicles. All Yautja onscreen and most of them in the expanded universe have been male, but Vagouti and Wendigo are two more examples of female Predators.
There may be variants between clans and Predator sub-species, as the clans do not often interact with each other. Some clans might have females that are larger and stronger than the males and in other clans, the opposite may be true. Both genders give off a strong musk to signify aggression, while females can also emit it when in estrus. The musk encourages males to attempt to mate with the females. Among males, to claim a male is emitting this musk is a derisive insult. This musk can be detected by other Predators and canids, though it is imperceptible to humans.
There are apparent behavioral differences between male and female Yautja as well. Females are never explored, but young males are known to be impulsive, violent, and overzealous in their need to prove themselves (often to the annoyance of their assigned teacher). Dachande, a Leader Yautja, was able to determine Machiko Noguchi was a female based on her behavior alone, commenting that the males of his (and any) species tended to be rather unwise in comparison to the females. This, among other things, is what led him to correctly deduce that Machiko was a female human. This may imply that female predators intrinsically lack the drive and aggression that turns violent males into seasoned, methodical hunters and thus explain why the male/female sex ratio in the hunt is so heavily skewed towards male Yautja.
The Hish are unique to the Yautja in that their sexes are fluid. An individual randomly and unwillingly shifts back and forth between "receptive" and "generative" breeder anatomy, although they may psychologically identify with one of the two and resent being the other when it's time to shift (it is important to note that the following information is canonically questioned). Female Hish, much like avians and reptiles, are more colorful than the males, with mottled purple around the jaw and colored banding on the dreadlocks. They also possess a roundness that males lack (and that none but other Hish would find easy to spot).
How Yautja procreate is never explained in detail, however, their anatomy implies a process not too different from most earth mammals. The length of a Yautja's dreadlocks plays a role in how physically appealing they are to one another, males in particular; short tresses are considered unattractive. Young Yautja are called Sucklings, Pups, or Younglings. Unlike Humans, Yautja have a breeding season, in which the females go into estrus and select the strongest and bravest males to sire their pups. Females do not generally pay any attention to youngbloods or unblooded. It is only when a male reaches Blooded status and has worthy kills to his name that a female desires to share his company, particularly if he has performed feats of exceptional bravery or skill. Such males never lack for female attention. Nat'ka'pu, a Leader, is said to have many wives, which suggest Yautja are a polygamous species and that a famous enough male may have access to his own personal harem which he can add to by impressing yet more females, as Nat'Ka'pu thinks winning human trophies will earn him more "conquests". This is further confirmed by the apparent existence of a Widow Clan, made up of female Yautja who have lost their mates.
According to Dachande, a "Yautja did what a Yautja had to do" to bolster his line, indicating that aside from attaining glory and honor, continuing one's bloodline is another imperative of the species. It even appears that the Hunt and mating and intermingled, with mates and offspring being one of the top motivations for Hunters and Glory being the other. Some Hunters have made names for themselves regarding breeding and the genetic pools just as some have made names for themselves as Hunters. The amount of pups born per pregnancy is never revealed, however it isn't uncommon for particularly esteemed hunters to have 70 or 80 offspring (and siring around 200 is especially exceptional). Yautja are polygamous breeders and have never been known to stay with a single mate.
Yautja are known to practice a form of Eugenics and Elder Predators can deem some males unsuitable for breeding, to the point of even removing their gonads to make them impotent. Lar'nix'va was one such male, smaller than usual and considered by Elder Hunters for castration for this reason.
Reproduction is pleasurable for both males and females, though potentially dangerous for the males. Dachande recalls being tossed across the room accidentally during one session with a recent breeding partner. He also aimed to leave behind a legion of offspring before his death, reflecting a common reproductive goal in male's of the species to leave behind as many offspring as possible.
Yautja culture revolves around the Hunt. They do not hunt to eliminate threats or for food (at least this is not the main reason) but for honor, sport and the thrill of the hunt. Male Predators also Hunt to gain access to females, who will otherwise ignore them, meaning that male cannot continue his bloodline. To Yautja, no hunt meant no will to live. Yautja mark themselves with the blood of their kill. The symbol varies with each clan, but so far the most widely known symbol is of the Thunderbolt. This is symbol of the unnamed Warrior God worshiped by some, possibly all Yautja.
Combat between Yautja is generally not permitted as the focus of their species is to kill and hunt other life forms. Certain Predator clans have been known to take unorthodox approaches such as accepting humans into their clans. Inter-clan rivalries and internal mutinies have also been known to happen, and the Predator culture has not always been witnessed as being totally uniform.
Rarely, some Predators have been known to kill (or attempt to kill) unarmed men, women and children, often in dishonorable ways such as ambushes or shooting their quarry in the back. Note however these may be renegade clans or more likely, Killers or Bad Bloods (see Castes).
It is the opinion of Machiko Noguchi, a human female accepted into a Predator clan, that the Predators were responsible for the spread of Xenomorphs throughout the galaxy. The Predators themselves deny this, though, stating that the Aliens' large interplanetary distribution is due to simultaneous convergent evolution.
Speculation has it that the Engineers and Yautja may have been adversaries. In AVP Requiem, an Engineer helmet is shown as a Predator war trophy. It is also speculated that the Xenomorphs may have been an Engineer weapon against the Yaujta.
The Predators are polytheistic, and their equivalent of the Grim Reaper is the so-called "Black Warrior", who is seen as an eternal adversary who eventually wins all battles. They also have a warrior god, called Paya, who is godlike in their hunting and fighting abilities. They are also called "The Conquering Warrior".
They also believe in a Warrior god who can wield bolts of lightning and those who honor him mark themselves and their helmets with thunderbolts. This god has no name and is simply referred to as a "warrior god" and an "extraterrestrial odin".
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According to some reports, Yautja motivations for hunting are not just for sport, but rather for honor, with the species having developed a whole tribal culture around their status at the top of the food chain, as the ultimate Predator. Their code of honor dictates what makes a worthy adversary, and thus will make a Predator or clan more respected.
Yautja clans have been known to be governed by a Council of Ancients, which consist of the oldest of the race. Their word is considered law and they ensure that the many clans follow the law. Inter-clan warfare is watched over by the Ancients and they decide matters such as which planet is considered a clan's hunting ground. (AvP: Extinction) ↵For example, a high born Yautja was encountered by the Iron Bear mercenary Vassili Rykov who believed the hunter to be a "Prince" among his race which suggests a possible royalty among their species. (AVP 2) A Young Blood (Young Predator) must pass a series of tests from several Elites to become an Elite Hunter. (AVP 2010)
Behind the Scenes
The original Predator
Initially, the Predator that was to appear on screen in the 1987 film Predator was a very different creature. While it was always described as humanoid, its appearance otherwise changed quite drastically as the script for the first film developed – one early draft states that the Predator had a "strikingly human-like face" and "smooth, hairless, nearly translucent skin", beneath which "a delicate network of veins and vessels can be seen, pulsing rapidly with pale green blood". A later draft portrayed the Predator as a shapeshifter that was hunting humans to study them (it was in fact this version of the creature that was used in the novelization of the movie).
The first practical Predator built for the production was created by a team from Boss Studios, led by Steve Johnson (who also provided some of the gore effects in the movie). The suit they designed had a distinct insect- or arthropod-like appearance, with a long neck, dog-shaped head and large, yellow eyes. Its skin was covered in complex and bizarre textures, and the suit was fitted with 12" leg extensions to give the creature backwards bending satyr-legs, designed to disguise the fact it was a man in a suit. The suit was to be worn by Belgian actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, the idea being that Van Damme's martial arts prowess would make the Predator an agile, ninja-like hunter. However, from the very beginning there were problems with the suit – the creature's solid insect-like exoskeleton meant that Van Damme could not bend at the waist, and the leg extensions proved unwieldy and impractical when filming on location in a jungle. In fact, the legs proved so unwieldy that the creature had to be supported using either wires or a crane, severely limiting its agility and range of movements. It quickly became apparent that the design was unworkable.
Furthermore, compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura, actors known for their extensive bodybuilding regimes, Van Damme was not considered physically imposing enough to be a credible threat. As a result of these issues, the original suit design was scrapped and Van Damme was released from the production, while filming on the movie was shut down for six months so that an alternative could be found. The original discarded Predator design would be revisited almost 25 years later and used as inspiration for the River Ghost creature featured in Predators.
Stan Winston redesign
With the failure of the Boss Studios suit, responsibility for creating the Predator creature passed to Stan Winston, who was hired at Schwarzenegger's suggestion following the actor's experience with him on The Terminator. Winston accepted largely as a favor to his friend Schwarzenegger, but also because he felt the film was likely to be a success. According to Winston, "My feeling from reading the script was that the Predator had to be a real character, rather than a generic creature. He needed to be a very specific character – and that's what we came up with." Winston's design was heavily influenced by a piece of Rastafarian-themed concept art painted by Alan Munro, which had been hanging in producer Joel Silver's office. Additionally, Winston's good friend and frequent collaborator James Cameron suggested the Predator's distinctive mandibles during a flight the two were taking to an event in support of Aliens. Winston later joked, "Between the Rastafarian painting in Joel Silver's office and the mandible idea from Jim Cameron, I came up with 'Stan Winston's Predator'. And I take complete credit for it, even though I had nothing to do with it, obviously!"
The new suit was far simpler than the Boss Studios effort, allowing for much greater freedom of movement. It was built around actor Kevin Peter Hall, who at 7 feet 2.5 inches tall was a much better physical match for the actors he was playing against. The design originally incorporated mechanical finger extensions on the hands, but when these proved difficult to manipulate, they were removed. Winston's studio created all the physical Predator effects on Predator and Predator 2, including the suits worn by Hall and the creature's mechanical facial effects. The new Predator took eight weeks to design and create before filming was completed in January and February 1987. Winston considered the original Predator to be one of his proudest works and was honored by how it has gone on to become a pop culture icon.
The Predator's luminescent blood was created by mixing KY Jelly with the active liquids found in glow sticks; the mixture lost its glow quickly, so new batches had to be mixed constantly between takes. The blood was originally intended to be orange in color, to help it better stand out against the predominantly green jungle background. However, when the crew were unable to acquire any orange glowsticks on location, the blood was changed to green. This caused some problems for the special effects department, who had already completed several shots featuring the original orange blood. Consequently, these shots had to be discarded and remade. The Predator's vocalizations were provided by long-time voice actor Peter Cullen, most famous for his portrayal of Optimus Prime in the Transformers franchise. Cullen said the inspiration for the Predator sounds were horseshoe crabs.
The camouflage effect was designed by R/Greenberg Associates. The idea for the effect came in a dream one of the Thomas brothers (who wrote the film) had, in which there was a chrome man who was inside a reflective sphere. The man blended in, perfectly camouflaged, reflecting from all directions and only visible when in motion. It took the production team some time to devise a technique to achieve the effect, but eventually they settled on repeating a background image in a pattern of ripples in the shape of the Predator's body. It proved very effective and was a new way of presenting an "invisible man". Before there was digital rendering technology all of the camouflage was created optically using photo-chemical means, the result being the end product would never be the same twice when combining the same pieces of film.
Throughout their film appearances, Predators have undergone numerous design variations. In Predator 2, the main Predator was designed to look more urban and hip than its predecessor. Design changes included tribal ornamentation on the forehead, which was made steeper and shallower, brighter skin coloration and a greater number of fangs. In Alien vs. Predator, the appearance of the Predators was redesigned to make them seem more heroic, with alterations including a reduction in head and waist size, broader shoulders, a more muscular physique, piranha-like teeth on the upper jaw and dryer, less clammy skin to further differentiate them from the Aliens. In Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, the Predator was returned to the sleeker design concept used prior to Alien vs. Predator. For the so-called "Black Super Predators" seen in Predators, the designers used the difference between a cassette tape and an iPod as an analogy in differentiating the new Predators from the originals. The Super Predators were designed as leaner and taller than the "classic" Predator design, with longer faces, tighter armor and with more swept back dreadlocks.
The Predator species is never given a name in any of the films in which it appears, with the creatures simply being referred to as the Predator both on-screen and in the films' credits. In Predator, Anna Gonsalves refers to the creature as "El diablo que hace trofeos de los hombres", or "The demon who makes trophies of men". However, in expanded universe material the species has been known as the Yautja, Hish-qu-Ten or simply the Hunters. The term Yautja was first used in the novel Aliens vs. Predator: Prey, which was itself a novel adaptation of the original Aliens vs. Predator comic book series, the first media to discuss the Predators at length from their own perspective.
The degree to which the name is recognized by the Yautja themselves has varied from source to source – for instance, in the Rage War trilogy, the Widow Clan does not recognize this word when it is applied to them. Other sources, however, such as the anthology Predator: If It Bleeds, has the creatures directly referring to themselves as Yautja. The backstory of the Alpha Predator refers to the species as both Hish-qu-Ten and Yautja, with Hish being their name before the Amengi enslaved and bred them, and Yautja being the end result.
While never named on-screen, the creatures from the first two films in the series have often come to be known as the Jungle Hunter and the City Hunter, respectively, nicknames based upon their chosen hunting grounds and first used in the 2005 video game Predator: Concrete Jungle. With the release of Alien vs. Predator in 2004, specific Predators were given individual names in the film's credits. This was repeated in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Predators.
Portrayals in expanded media
In 1989, the Predator franchise was licensed to Dark Horse Comics to produce comics based on the story and concept. That same year Dark Horse began laying the groundwork for a cross-over series between the Predator and their other popular licensed sci-fi property, Aliens. Thus, the Aliens versus Predator line of comics also debuted that year.
While the Predator comics line focused mostly on stories—like the original films—told from a human point of view, with lone Predators as unknown alien beings visiting the Earth in the present or at different points in human history, causing havoc and terror for unknown reasons amongst their human prey; the Alien versus Predator comics—and their spin-off novelizations—started to delve more into stories told from the Predator race's point of view, and reveal more about their culture and customs. It is in these comics, throughout the 1990s, that what is now known as "yautja" culture, and even the name "yautja" originated. That said, yautja in the comics and novels have been prone to a degree of varying interpretations depending on the writer.
In these stories, certain Predator clans have been shown to take unorthodox approaches such as accepting humans into their clans. Inter-clan rivalries and internal mutinies are also depicted, showing the Predators as not having a totally uniform culture. Several times in Alien vs. Predator comics, Predators are seen killing (or attempting to kill) unarmed men, women and children, often in dishonorable ways such as ambushes or shooting their quarry in the back.
Note however most of these differences may be explained as differences between customs from clan to clan, by the existence of multiple Predator-inhabited worlds, and/or by the existence of renegade clans such as the recently introduced "Killers" (see Castes)
Much of the intricate organization and demographics given about the yautja clans and how they are governed in the 2000s has come from the AvP video game franchise. It is here that they are shown to be governed by a Council of Ancients which consist of the oldest of the race. Their word is considered law and they ensure that the many Clans follow the law. Inter-clan warfare is watched over by the Ancients and they decide matters such as which planet is considered a clan's hunting ground. (Aliens versus Predator: Extinction) A high born Yautja was encountered by Rykov who believed the hunter to be a "prince" among his race which suggests a possible royalty among their species. (Aliens versus Predator 2) A Young Blood (Young Predator) must pass a series of test from several Elites to become an Elite Hunter. (Aliens vs. Predator)
- The goblin spider genus Predatoroonops is named after the Predator, owing to the perceived similarity between the spider's mouthparts and the Predator's mandibles. Additionally, the various sub-species of Predatoroonops all have taxonomic names that reference aspects of Predator, including Predatoroonops schwarzeneggeri (named for Arnold Schwarzenegger), Predatoroonops maceliot (named for Mac Eliot), Predatoroonops vallarta (named for Puerto Vallarta, one of the filming locations on the movie) and Predatoroonops peterhalli (named for Kevin Peter Hall). There is even a species called Predatoroonops yautja.
- On March 20, 2015, the Predator was accidentally confirmed (via the Xbox One store) as a guest DLC character in the fighting video game Mortal Kombat X.. The Predator Bundle was eventually released in July 2015.
- In some books, the name Yautja is used by the predators to define themselves, but in other books, some clans -- such as the Widow Clan -- do not recognize the term and tilt their heads in confusion when humans use it to address them.
- Given that two of the stats in the Predator campaign of Aliens vs Predator 2010 are to not use the plasma caster and not to use a health shard, it is implied that while using the plasma caster is seen as honorable, it is still disliked or frowned upon as it still involves a ranged weapon. Similarly, it is implied that a Predator who avoids any form of injury is seen as truly honorable, as they managed to hunt their prey without being injured at all.
Behind the scenes
- Predator: The Hunted – Information about the Predators at the expansive, informative and well-written fansite
- Predators – Article on Wikipedia
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- NECA Predator figures
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- The Rage War trilogy
- The Rage War trilogy
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- Kaail NECA bio
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