Not much is known about the origins and history of the Predator race, also known as the Yautja. With their formidable appearance, advanced technology, and relentless hunting prowess, these extraterrestrial beings have become iconic figures within science fiction. In this article, we explore the Predators evolving on Yautja Prime, developing their hunting culture, and other fascinating events that shaped their evolution as the apex predators of the universe.
Origin Of The Term "Yautja"
The Predator species is commonly referred to as "Yautja", which can be perplexing for those new to the series. The term was initially introduced in the novel Aliens vs. Predator: Prey, penned by S. D. Perry and Steve Perry. This novel was based on the first Aliens vs. Predator comic series. "Yautja" is the name the Predators themselves use to identify their race. While the novel closely followed the events of the comic, it also provided additional insights into the Predator race and their culture. Consequently, "Yautja" became widely embraced in Predator literature and various Predator wikis. However, it is important to note that the term is rarely utilized in Predator games or comics. Interestingly, the recent Predator film, Prey, shares its title with this novel but, like previous Predator movies, does not employ the term "Yautja."
Evolution on Yautja Prime
Similar to human evolution, the Predators developed on their home planet (named Yautja Prime) from simpler lifeforms over millions of years. The Predator: Homeworld comic speculates that their direct ancestors were reptile-like creatures who lived in swamps. After crawling out of the swamps and spreading to other areas of Yautja Prime, they developed simple tribal-like communities, where the first traces of their clan-based society was born. Although similar to reptires, there has never been evidence that the Predators laid eggs, they were always born directly from their mothers. Due to their aggressive tendencies and nature, a warrior mentality developed where the fittest would be the leaders (often males). Female Predators would later prove to be great warriors in their own right.
Rebellion Against The Amengi
Delving into the expanded lore of the Predator universe, the origins of the Yautja race are intertwined with a rebellion against an insectoid species known as the Amengi. In the past, the Predators, then called the Hish, lacked technological advancement and were subjected to enslavement and exploitation by the Amengi, who utilized them as slaves and fighters for their amusement. However, an exceptional albino Predator, later referred to as the Alpha, led a momentous uprising against their oppressors. A fierce war ensued, resulting in a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the two races. The Amengi were either vanquished or forced into servitude, while the Predators seized their technology and adapted it to their own needs. This marked the Yautja's inaugural participation in warfare and ultimately led to their complete independence.
Developing A Hunting Culture
The Predators were aggressive species from the start, and the enslavement and rebellion against their overlords only solidified their war-like nature. While their warrior traditions were geared towards mastering the melee weapons, like spears, wrist blades, and swords, their new technological advancements brought in new improved weaponry, like the plasmasters and smart discs. The Predators then re-discovered the thrill of the hunt and formed their culture around hunting other species. A Yautja hierarchy was set up, where the most proficient hunters were the Elites, whiles the Elders had gained the most honor and experience. The Hunt was based on intricate hunting rules, where the innocent were not hurt and only worthy prey was considered.
Spreading Across The Galaxy
After gaining their big victory over the Amengi, stealing their technology, and solidifying their hunter culture, the Yautja spread across the galaxy in their ships, establishing a Yautja Empire. As seen in Predator lore, almost every Predator ship looks different, but they mostly adhere to a fish-like and aerodynamic design. The biggest Predator ships - the motherships, carried whole clans across the galaxy, taking the hunters to a vast array of planets with different creatures. The motherships had scout ships attached to their undersides, allowing even faster and more streamlined explorations and hunting. Furthermore, some Predator clans created habitats in different areas of space - space station-like structures where the Predators could live their everyday lives, while not actively hunting.
First Hunt Of Xenomorphs
Although the Kaail was the first individual recognized as a Yautja, it was Lord Predator who accomplished the groundbreaking feat of successfully hunting Xenomorphs, a pivotal event in Yautja history. The pursuit and elimination of Xenomorphs, known as "Serpents," eventually became an almost religious experience for the Predators, who would commemorate their triumphs by adorning their clan symbol, often depicted as a thunderbolt. Lord Predator's achievements were commemorated through several statues, particularly on the planet BG-386, the setting of the events in the Aliens vs. Predator 2010 video game. Within a colossal temple, Lord's body rested in a sarcophagus, adjacent to another statue honoring this legendary hunter. Dark Predator paid homage to Lord's legacy but was compelled to destroy the temple to eradicate a nearby Xenomorph infestation.
Predator Domination Of Earth
During their explorations of space, the Predators discovered Earth, leading to a peculiar era where humans worshipped them as gods. According to the Predator timeline, approximately around 2000 BC, the Yautja descended upon Northern Cambodia in their colossal spacecraft, leaving the local inhabitants in awe of their presence. Impressed by the Predators, the humans were guided to construct grand temples, often referred to as the Temples of the Gods, as acts of devotion and worship. In return, the Yautja demanded sacrifices, occasionally selecting a group of "volunteers" who would be exposed to facehuggers, resulting in the birth of Xenomorphs for the Predators to pursue as formidable prey. However, this religious symbiosis was short-lived, as the Xenomorph population spiraled out of control. Faced with an overwhelming infestation, the Predators resorted to drastic measures, activating a colossal self-destruct mechanism atop one of the temples, unleashing devastation upon all within its vicinity.
Return To Earth
Thousands of years after the Xenomorph infestation fiasco, the Yautja became interested in Earth again, especially as the human population had grown and there became more possibility for conflict between different warring parties. Although there is some evidence of Predators hunting Vikings, one of the well-established early Predator hunts was in 1719 in the Great Plains of North America. A Yautja nicknamed "Feral Predator" descended on his ship and hunted wild animals, Native Americans, and French Trappers, until being killed by a female hunter named Naru. Later on, more and more Predators came to hunt on Earth, first keeping to the jungles, but later hunting in cities as well.
Yautja Differences Due To Clans, Subspecies and Hybrids
When exploring the Predator origins, one must wonder about the fact that the Yautja can differ widely in appearance, both in their physical look and the gear that they use. Firstly, the Yautja developed in different parts of Yautja prime, which is a vast planet with many continents. For example, the Feral Predator's subspecies possibly developed in a desert-like environment, giving him darker skin, wider eyes, and thinner dreadlocks. Other Predators are similar in physical appearance but use much different and heavier gear, like the young Predators from the first AvP movie. The reason is that this was a different clan from the Jungle Hunter, focusing on hunting Xenomorphs. Finally, some Predators have tapped into hybridization by enhancing their DNA with other species. Predators like the Fugitive and the Assassin are generally shunned by the mainstream Predator populace and would become outcasts from Yautja Prime for their forbidden experimentation.
The origins and history of the Yautja, or Predator race, remain shrouded in mystery. From their evolution on Yautja Prime to their spread across the galaxy, the Predators developed a formidable hunting culture. Their conquest of the Xenomorphs and encounters on Earth added to their enigmatic reputation. The diversity among the Yautja, including clans and hybrids, only deepens the intrigue surrounding their origins. As they continue their intergalactic hunts, the secrets of the Yautja race persist, ensuring their enduring legacy.