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Protomorph: Guide To Alien Covenant's Praetomorph

By | Published January 09, 2024

The Protomorph (also known as the Praetomorph) is the latest addition to the Xenomorph type family, appearing in the sequel to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant. Having an appearance and behavior very similar to the original Xenomorph, it is considered to be the close predecessor of the Xenomorph XX121. Only two Protomorphs appeared in the movie, while the creature also made an appearance in the Alien: RPG. Here is the full overview of the Protomorph, including its complicated origins, life cycle, characteristics, and differences from the Neomorph and the Xenomorph.

Praetomorph vs. Protomorph

The Protomorph is also called the Praetomorph

The Protomorph is often called the Praetomorph in more official sources, while the Protomorph is a term more widely used by fans. Another name for the Protomorph is Plagiarus Linesteres, appearing in the Alien: Roleplaying Game, where a substance similar to the Black Goo Pathogen created the creatures. The term connects to "Plagiarus Praepotens", which appeared in Alien: Cold Forge and refers to a mutagenic substance inserted by facehuggers into a host body to grow chestbursters. The term Protomorph is also sometimes used to refer to the other "pre-Xenomorph" creatures from the Alien prequel series, including the Deacon from Prometheus.

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Protomorph Origins

David's Laboratory from Alien: Covenant

The Praetomorph, or Protomorph, owes its existence to the unsettling experiments conducted by the android David 8. Utilizing the Chemical A0-3959X.91 – 15 pathogen, David manipulated tissue samples from various life forms on Planet 4 (sometimes also called Paradise) and the body of Dr. Elizbeth Shaw. As described in the Alien: Covenant novelization by Alan Dean Foster, David recreated the creature from initial designs from the Engineers he found on the planet, and the Protomorph wasn't an original creation of David. However, this view is not fully supported by director Ridley Scott, who thinks that David is the sole creator and "father" of Xenomorphs. Regardless, a decade of unnatural experiments lead David to the creation of the first Praetomorphs eggs.

Protomorph Egg

Protomorph Eggs with David

The Praetomorph lifecycle begins with the Ovomorph, a distinctively shaped egg that harbors the Praeto-Facehugger. Unlike the traditional Xenomorph eggs, these Ovomorphs exhibit a unique design, indicative of David's experimental influence. Compared to Xenomorph eggs, the Protomorph eggs have much larger petals and a more bulb-like shape. The eggs were kept in a humid (perhaps with dry heat) basement under the Engineer structure and David had bio-engineered at least half a dozen of them, with at least two of them hatching. There was no indication of a Alien Queen being present, and the eggs most likely grew from a much smaller size.

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Protomorph Facehugger

A Protomorph Facehugger on a victim

Emerging from the Ovomorph is the Praeto-Facehugger, a crucial stage in the Praetomorph's development. When detecting a potential host, the egg opens and the Facehugger leaps forward. This creature, while resembling its Xenomorph counterpart, differs in agility and potency, swiftly implanting its mutagenic payload into a host in seconds. Covenant's security chief Dan Lopé had the parasite on him for a few seconds, and the facehugger was seemingly successfully removed by security officer Cole. However, the facehugger had secretly infected Lopé, who unknowingly brought the creature aboard the USCSS Covenant.

Protomorph Chestburster

The Protomorph Chestburster emerges from Oram

The Chestburster stage, known as the "Imp," represents a horrifying evolution in the Praetomorph's life cycle. Unlike traditional Chestbursters, the Imp emerges almost fully developed, with distinct arms, legs, and head, rapidly maturing into its adult form. The chestburster is semi-translucent with purplish skin, looking somewhat fragile. Unlike other chestbursters, the Praetomorph Chestburster did not violently try to flee but was curious about the Android David giving it instructions on how to raise its arms.

Protomorph Adult

The Protomorph Adult on the lander ship

The adult Praetomorph, also known as the "Stalker," is a testament to the creature's terror. Towering more than 2.5 meters, its muscular body, devoid of biomechanical features, showcases a more organic and raw form of horror. The skin of the Stalker is a fusion of dark hues, predominantly black and gray, accentuating its raw, unrefined musculature and the exposed network of blood vessels. The creature grows very fast, perhaps even faster than its Xenomorph relative or the Neomorph. Two Protomorph Adults appeared in Alien: Covenant, and both were diced by machinery resulting in a big spray of acid.

Protomorph Characteristics

The Protomorph jumps in space

The Praetomorph is characterized by its sheer physicality and animalistic aggression. Its skin, a mixture of black and gray, covers a body marked by exposed muscles and blood vessels. The creature displays less intelligence than its Xenomorph counterparts but compensates with brute strength and resilience. Being in a violent craze, it seeks out any lifeform attempting to murder them, ignoring only androids, which seems to be a general Xenomorph weakness. It gives no emphasis on capturing potential hosts for expanding the hive, even though eggs would be available on Planet 4.

Protomorph Vision

The Promorph vision from Alien: Covenant

The second Protomorph born on the USCSS Covenant gave us a glimpse of Alien vision, although it clearly had no eyes. This was more fancifully done than the runner from Alien 3 - the Protomorph had a fisheye lens but seemed to be viewing things from inside a womb. The vision was covered by a membrane filled with tiny veins or worms, that pulsated with movement. The membrane also seemed to change color, but this can be explained by the lighting on the Covenant reacting to the alerts on the ship.

Protomorph vs. Neomorph

A Protomorph standing with a Neomorph

A pivotal scene originally intended to showcase the superiority of the Xenomorph over the Neomorph was removed from the movie. According to the Alien: Covenant novelization and supplementary materials, the intense escape sequence from "Planet 4" was meant to feature a brief but fierce confrontation between the remaining Neomorph and the Protomorph. In this scenario, instead of the Protomorph pursuing Daniels, it would have been the Neomorph, which would then have been abruptly overpowered and savagely attacked by the Protomorph. This battle would have culminated in the proto-Xenomorph triumphing, emphasizing its dominance over the Neomorphs. However, due to budget constraints or the need to trim the film's length, this scene was ultimately not included. As a result, one Neomorph is left alive on the planet, potentially setting the stage for its return in future narratives.

Promotorph vs. Xenomorph

The Protomorph on the Covenant ship

Within the Alien universe, the Praetomorph and Xenomorph embody slightly different characteristics and behaviors. Lacking the Xenomorph's biomechanical traits, the Praetomorph appears more organic, suggesting it's an intermediary form between the Neomorph and Xenomorph. Physically, it's characterized by a muscular, black and gray body with elongated limbs, contrasting the Xenomorph's sleek, biomechanical look. Behaviorally, the Praetomorph is more primal and aggressive, lacking the strategic cunning of the Xenomorph. However, the Xenomorphs have looked and behaved differently in all the Alien movies, and these slight differences are not very big.

"Praetomorph" Behind The Scenes

A behind the scenes photo of the Praetomorph suit

In the creation of "Alien: Covenant," the conception and portrayal of the Praetomorph involved a blend of innovative CGI and practical effects. Inspired by écorché figures, its design was intended to evoke a raw, anatomical aesthetic, distinct from the more mechanical Xenomorphs. The movements of the creature were based on the fluid motions of a praying mantis and the agility of a baboon, lending it an unnerving, predatory quality. Spanish actor Javier Botet, known for his unique physicality due to Marfan Syndrome, provided the motion capture performance, adding a layer of eerie realism to the Praetomorph's movements.

Protomorph Figures

A Protomorph figure by NECA

Interestingly, the Alien: Covenant Protomorph figure by NECA Toys is just titled "Xenomorph", although it is an accurate representation of the creature. NECA also released an Alien: Covenant "Creature Pack", depicting the various creatures from the movie, including two Praetomorph eggs (open and closed), juvenile Neomorph, two Proto-facehuggers, and even a Proto-chestbuster. Additionally, Funko released a line of fun Alien: Covenant figures, including the Praetomorph also labeled as the "Xenomorph". This version of the Praetomorph had blue veins on its body, distinguishing itself from the regular Funko Xenomorphs.


In "Alien: Covenant," the introduction of the Praetomorph, often referred to as the Protomorph, marks a new addition to the Xenomorph family. This creature shares similarities with the original Xenomorph but is distinguished by its unique features and origin story. Created through the experiments of the synthetic David 8 using life forms from Planet 4, the Praetomorph displays a lifecycle that is somewhat different from other Alien series entities like the Neomorph and the traditional Xenomorph. David took two more Praetomorph eggs onboard the USCSS Covenant, but we might not see the conclusion to that story, as the new Alien: Romulus will take place in another time frame.

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