One aspect of Yautja appearance that has caught the attention of audiences is their iconic dreadlocks. The Yautja have dreads because it is part of their anatomy and connected to their bloodflow, nervous system, and sensory inputs. However, not all Predators have the same type of dreadlocks, and over the years, different variations of this hairstyle have appeared in the Predator franchise. In this article, we will delve into the different dreadlock variants seen in the movies and expanded lore and explore the significance of each variation in the context of the Predator universe.
Predator Skull With Dreadlock Holes
The Predator hair, also known as Dreadlocks, Dreds, Predlocks, or Quills, play an important part in the Yautja anatomy. Looking at the Yautja skull, there are large dreadlocks holes at the back of it, meaning that they don't just grow out of the skin like human hair. They are connected to the Yautja blood flow and to their nervous system, possibly even being directly connected to their brains through the skull. These holes grow larger as the dreadlocks themselves grow. It is also evident that the skull has smaller holes in the front and on the sides, being the source of the Yautja facial hair. It can be speculated if the dreadlocks give the Predators any sensory advantage, but they possibly help the Predators keep their balance.
Blood Inside Dreadlocks
There is blood flowing in the Predator dreadlocks and any damage to them causes pain. If multiple dreadlocks are cut off by battle damage, a Yautja would have to deal with blood loss and even use the Medicomp to cauterize the wounds. Although the dreadlocks have not been damaged in the movies, it has happened a few times in the comics. Perhaps the best example of this is from Predator: Strange Roux, where a Predator was shot in the head by a shotgun, blowing away about a dozen of the dreadlocks. The Predator had no time to deal with the blood loss, as he sank into the mud of a swamp and died, to be eaten later by a mad Cajun.
It is not clear if a Predator would live if the Dreadlocks were completely plucked out, with only the holes remaining. Possibly it would cause brain damage and the Yautja would die an agonizing death. Although there are some Predators with cut-off Dreadlocks and even with very short Dreadlock stubs, a completely hairless live Predator has been seen only once. It happened in the Predator: Hunting Grounds video game, and was caused by a glitch in the system, showing us a strange-looking maskless and hairless Samurai Predator.
Dreadlocks on Young Predators
Like human children, Predator babies (called spawnlings) are born with at least some short hair. These grow longer and thicker during their lifetimes, reaching about shoulder height during their teen years (then called Younglings). During this time, variations would already start to appear, with a slight difference in coloring, thickness, and length. The young Predators are also starting to show interest in decorating their hair with rings or other trinkets, which is common with grown Yautja. Although seeing Predator children is rare, it has happened both in the Batman vs. Predator crossover comics, and in Aliens vs. Predator: War.
Dreadlocks on Old Predators
Predictably, dreadlocks on old Predators have grown long during their lifetimes (usually spanning centuries, if not millennia) and changed to grey color. The ends of the dreadlocks can wither and even turn white as the blood does not flow well anymore. A good example of an old Predator is the first Alien vs. Predator movie where an Elder Predator witnessed the death of Scar Predator. An even better example is from the Predator: Homeworld comic, where an ancient Predator comes out of retirement to hunt down Bad Blood Predators who escaped to Earth. The ends of his braided dreads had turned completely white, but he was still a deadly hunter.
Two Yautja from the expanded Predator lore has gotten their Dreadlocks almost completely cut off, with only very short stubs remaining. Stone Heart, Swift Knife, and Long Spear from Predator: Concrete Jungle were three young Predators from the Dark Blade Clan who were captured by humans and brainwashed. While Long Spear kept his dreadlocks, Stone Heart's and Swift Knife's dreads were snipped as part of their torture and brainwashing process. They also received cybernetic implants and were made to fight for the Borgia Corporation, but were hunted down and killed by Scarface Predator later. While it's possible that the cutting off of dreadlocks was made to cause them pain, it's more likely it was made to get easier access to their brains.
Many Yautja from the Predator comics has had their dreadlocks cut short, for various possible reasons. Like the Predator from Strange Roux, it's probable that some of them have gotten damaged, and the Predators cut them all to the same level. Such was also the case with the Two-Face Predator from Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens - Splice And Dice. One side of his face had hideous scarring, while dreadlocks were cut short equally on both sides. Others could have possibly taken sick pleasure in the pain of cutting off the dreadlocks, as a reminder of a hunting failure. Another Predator with cut-off dreadlocks the Young Blood from Batman vs. Predator III: Blood Ties, successfully infiltrated the Batcave.
Some Predators, who are not necessarily old, have naturally long dreadlocks as they seem to grow at a faster pace. For a while, the Shaman Predator of the Lost Tribe from the end of Predator 2 was the Yautja with the longest-known Predlocks. Later on, female Predators were introduced into the lore with some of them also having longer dreadlocks. Perhaps they don't grow faster for females, but their leaner bodies just make them appear bigger. Longer dreadlocks might also be a symptom of environmental factors or a difference between the many subspecies and clans of Yautja.
Unnaturally Long Dreadlocks
The Predator with the longest dreadlocks ever was most likely the Spiked Tail Predator, released first as a Kenner figure and later as a remake by NECA. Although he was an old Predator, these were probably not natural dreadlocks, as the backstory of this Predator mentioned unnatural experimentations. Spiked Tail was part of the Rogue Space tribe, whose members were known to conduct illegal experimentation, which got them banished from Yautja Prime. His dreadlocks were knotted into a mace-like ball, which could be used as a Yautja assault weapon and is the only instance where the dreadlocks could be used in an offensive manner. Hanging freely, the end of the dreadlocks reached to the soles of his feet.
Thin Dreadlocks are usually a sign of young Predators, but this might not always be the case. The Feral Predator from the latest Predator movie had famously very thin Dreadlocks, perhaps the thinnest seen yet. Furthermore, his face was different from any Predator face seen so far, deviating heavily from the classical Jungle Hunter. These differences can be explained by the Feral originating from a different region of Yautja Prime, as was hinted at by Dan Trachtenberg, the director of Prey. The Feral Predator is most likely a different Yautja type, one of the many variations seen in Predator lore.
While are yet to see a fat and lazy Yautja, many Predators are heavy in their build, sporting a lot of muscle and armor at the same time. Often, the dreadlocks of these kinds of Predators are thick (or fat) as well, hinting that dreadlocks either contain fat and muscle as well as blood and skin. The three Young Blood Predators from the first AvP movie were muscular and came with thick dreadlocks as well. Perhaps the thickest dreadlocks are seen in Predator: Hunting Grounds, with this particular Predator variation being called "Tank", a fitting name for a heavy Predator.
The Predator dreadlocks are usually black, dark grey or dark blueish. However, many colored variations exists, depending on the age, subspecies of Yautja or just the fact that a Predator has dyed them. One of the most unique types belonged to the Alpha Predator, an albino Yautja who had completely white dreadlocks which was not due to his age. The Super Predator dreadlocks varied in colors, with the Berserker Predator having red dreadlock tips and the Falconer's dreads being brown. Furthermore, Predator: Hunting Grounds allows a big selection of different dreadlock tints.
The dreadlocks are most commonly left to hang freely, which gives an iconic look to the Predator, especially if he turns his head quickly. When the dreadlocks are long, they are sometimes seen to be braided together into a ponytail. Otherwise, they might get in the way of fighting and their own weapons, especially the Yautja wristblades. Even the long dreadlocks braided dreadlocks might get damaged easily. This happened with the Boss Predator from Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens - Splice And Dice, who lost several dreads to a crazed Xenomorph/Judge hybrid.
The leader of the clan that Dachande (Broken Tusk) and later Machiko Noguchi belong to famously tied his hair in a Top Knot, earning him the same nickname. This easily distinguished him from the other Predators and was perhaps a sign of cultural dominance as well. Only part of his dreadlocks was tied into a knot, while others still hung freely on the sides. Like many of the other dreadlocks styles featured here, the Top Knot is available in Hunting Grounds although the famous Predator can only be partially recreated there.
The dreadlocks are such an important part of the Yautja anatomy that they get inherited into Xenomorphs using the DNA reflex. All Predalien types seen so far have had dreadlocks, although they might be slightly different. The Predalien dreadlocks are not smooth and resemble the Xenomorph's tail with sharp ridges and tips. Like with Yautja, they have blood flowing through them, but in the case of Xenomorphs, it is acid blood. The Predators consider the Predaliens to be abominations and an insult to their race - they are to be hunted down and killed in quick order.
Human Predator Dreadlocks
Human Predators are exceptionally skilled hunters who have either joined the ranks of Predators or just wear Yautja armor and weapons to get an upper hand in defeating their enemies, often the Predators themselves. More often than not, these humans are females who style their appearance to be in line with the Yautja as well. Both Machiko Noguchi and Ash Parnall wore braided dreadlocks to blend in better with the Predators, whom they fought side-by-side. Of course, this does not mean that they were Predator-human hybrids and had real dreadlocks with blood in them.
In an underwhelming twist of events at the end of The Predator, the Fugitive Predators gifted humanity a Predator Killer mech-suit. In addition to ridiculously large shoulder cannons and a bio-mask, the suit had cybernetic dreadlocks that seemed to serve to clear purpose. Perhaps they were added to confuse the enemy into thinking there was a Predator inside, or they were just cosmetic appliances. These cybernetic dreadlocks were relatively short and came with unneeded ring-like decorations.
In conclusion, the Yautja dreadlocks have become a staple of the Predator franchise and have evolved over the years to reflect the different personalities, clans, and cultural nuances of the species. From the classic dreadlocks seen in the original Predator movie to the braided variants seen in more recent films and comics, each dreadlock style serves as a visual representation of the individual Yautja and their place within their society. Whether viewed as a symbol of strength, rank, or cultural identity, the Yautja dreadlocks remain a captivating aspect of the Predator universe and a testament to the imaginative world-building of the franchise.