The Xenomorph is notorious for its lethal attributes, including the secretion of highly corrosive acid. Although the Xenomorphs bleed acid when wounded, some Xenomorph types are able to utilize it as an attack mechanism, including the Cloned Xenomorphs from Alien: Resurrection. There is even a dedicated Alien caste for spitting acid: the Spitter Xenomorph. In this article, find out which Xenomorphs can spit acid for both defense and attack and how exactly it happens.
Facehuggers Spitting Acid
Facehuggers, the second stage of the Xenomorph life cycle, are primarily recognized for implanting embryos into hosts. However, it is often forgotten that Facehuggers can spit acid in small doses, and did it already in the first Alien movie. In some instances, facehuggers appear to use acid to break through protective barriers. The most common use case is to melt through a victim's protective helmet and force through the small opening, as happened with Kane's helmet. The acid dose needs to be just the perfect amount, so as not to burn through the victim's face in a lethal way.
Chestbursters Spitting Acid
Chestbursters emerge from their hosts in a violent process. While they are seen as vulnerable and devoid of advanced defense mechanisms, there's speculation about their ability to spit acid. It's conceivable that they may possess a rudimentary form of this defense to protect themselves in their earliest, most vulnerable moments. The juvenile Xenomorph Runner from Alien 3 spit in the face of Murphy, who then fell into the ventilation fan. Although the acid seemed thick and yellowish-green, it might have been less potent than the Xenomorph's own blood.
Adult Warriors Spitting Acid
Adult Xenomorph warriors are a common sight in the Alien series. Known for their physical strength and acidic blood, regular Xenomorph Warriors don't spit acid in normal circumstances. The Cloned hybrid Xenomorphs from Alien: Resurrection did possess the acid spit ability, but it might have been the result of their DNA tampering. A single cloned Xenomorph used the acid spit only used it once, to incapacitate Christie the mercenary. Again, the acid seemed less potent than Xenomorph blood - it did not burn Christie as badly as Drake's burns in Aliens. Still, Christie chose to sacrifice himself due to his injuries and died falling into the water.
Spitting Acid When Wounded
The acid blood of Xenomorphs is a well-known hazard, especially when they are injured. This trait seems to be a passive defense mechanism, automatically harming attackers when the Xenomorph is wounded. There is some indication that Xenomorphs can deliberately spit acid when injured in the mouth, as happened in the Predalien vs. Wolf Predator fight at the end of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. The Predalien was stabbed through the mouth by Wolf's wristblades, and a spray of projectile acid was pushed through the Alien's mouth onto Wolf. The Yautja anatomy and blood offer some protection against Xenomorph acid, otherwise, Wolf would have been the clear loser in the fight, instead of the duel ending in a stalemate.
The Xenomorph Spitter
Among the various Xenomorph types, the 'Spitter Xenomorph' (also called the Ranger) stands out as a specialized caste dedicated to spitting acid. This variant, distinct in its evolutionary adaptation and large head, demonstrates a focused use of acid in ranged attacks, marking it as a unique member of the Xenomorph family. Appearing in both Aliens: Colonial Marines and Aliens: Fireteam Elite video games, it offers a counterbalance to the melee attacks of other Xenomorphs. Although the appearance of the spitters from both games is somewhat different, the Spitters act exactly the same, seeking cover from afar and spraying the Colonial Marines with periodic acid showers.
The Anatomy Of Spitting Acid
In Xenomorph anatomy, the biological possibility of Xenomorphs spitting acid involves specialized glandular structures and muscle control. These hypothetical anatomical features would allow them to store and project acid, although the exact mechanism remains a subject of speculation. The acid of the Spitter caste seems to be held in sacks near the creature's head and neck, which is also their weakest point. The acid attack needs some time to recharge, perhaps indicating the sacks need to be refilled from the Xenomorph blood, or refilled from scratch.
Praetorians Spitting Acid
Praetorians, serving as guards and potential future Queens, are formidable members of the Xenomorph hierarchy. While they possess enhanced physical attributes, there is evidence that they are the largest Xenomorphs to spit acid. The acid attack appeared in the Aliens vs. Predator 2010 video game, where no dedicated spitter Alien was present. Later games like Aliens: Fireteam Elite and Aliens: Dark Descent included the Praetorian without the acid spit attack, but with a bulging acid-filled chest, which was the Praetorian's weakest point. Although they did not spit acid directly, they did spill loads of acid when hurt.
Acid Spitting In Alien Comics
In the Alien comics, an extended part of the franchise's universe, Xenomorphs are often depicted with varied abilities. Surprisingly, the acid spit has shown up very rarely in the Alien comics, contrary to Alien games. One notable exception is the Gorilla Alien from the Aliens: Space Marines toy comic which had these ranged attacks in addition to its strong combat prowess. In addition, the comic versions of both Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection have re-created their respective acid-spitting scenes, with gory detail.
In conclusion, it is clear that many Xenomorph types can spit acid but do so under rare circumstances. This might be due to the avoidance of hurting potential hosts, and the slow rechargeability of their acid sacks. Out of the most well-known Alien castes, the Alien eggs and Alien Queens have never been shown to spit acid. The specialized Spitter Xenomorph caste is fully dedicated to this task and is the only ranged attacker available in the Alien hive. The Xenomorph acid spit has shown up a few times in the Alien movies, but happens most seldom in the Alien games, with only a few occurrences in the Alien comic books.