Your Weekend Creature Comforts: The Dianoga
Welcome back creature lovers. Being a fan of Star Wars marathons it is rare that I make it more than a year without rewatching these wonderful movies. And lucky for you all the movies are chuck full of incredible creatures, giving me more and more ideas of aliens to write about for Your Weekend Creature Comforts. This weekend I want to spotlight The Dianoga, a creature that scares the hell out of everyone watching A New Hope for the first time but also one that most people do not know what it really looks like…
In A New Hope the one glimpse we get of the dianoga is in the trash compactor that Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia fall in to. What we see is a large eye on a stalk like projection come up and out of the water, look around, then dive back down. Shortly there after there are a few tentacles seen in the water, and Luke gets dragged down under the surface even though the water appears to only be knee-deep.
This creature that had Luke in its clutches and nearly devoured him is a cephalopod species that could grow anywhere from 3-10 meters long. And even though we really only see a couple tentacles and the eye stalk in the movie, under the surface these monsters are massive! I did actually know that before doing research for this post, as I once, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, attempted to play a Star Wars video game where I had to swim under the surface of the water in a trash sewer and got to see one of these creatures up close and personal!
The squid-like monster has seven long, strong tentacles surrounding its gaping, teeth encircled mouth. It’s eighth appendage is the eye stalk it has on the top of its head, allowing it to look around above the surface like a periscope would for a submarine. The creature is mostly a scavenger that feeds on organic matter, and typically would blend in to the area it lived by changing color to its skin using particles from the organic material that it ingested. Being scavengers, it was not uncommon for these creatures to end up in the sewers of their home planet Vodran. From there larva were able to enter the sewage and waste systems of ships, so these creatures commonly ended up in trash compactors and garbage pits. That is of course where we encounter this monster on the Death Star. They also have made appearances in toilets when still juvenile…
While the creatures are portrayed as relatively dim-witted scavengers, I would be curious to really delve in to the intelligence of this alien species. In particular they share a lot of similarities with octopi and squid, and we know that these creatures are quite intelligent. Maybe some day an Extended Universe story will enlighten us about the smarts of a dianogan. Until then, I will always be a little cautious over manholes when traveling to planets of the Outer Rim.
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