In Alien: Covenant, the Xenomorph—the titular and iconic alien of the Alien franchise—was revealed to not be the only deadly predator in space. The series’ latest entry and second prequel introduced fans to the lethal Neomorph; a possible predecessor to the murderous creature that killed all of Ellen Ripley’s crewmates in the very first Alien.
Besides its noticeably white and lean physique, the Neomorph differs in many lethal ways when compared to the classic space nightmare that the android Ash memorably dubbed “the perfect organism.” This doesn’t mean that one is stronger than the other since the two have yet to fight onscreen. Besides, whoever wins, we lose. To help add fuel to the fiery debates as to which murderous alien is stronger, here are five reasons why the Neomorphs are deadlier than Xenomorphs, plus five why they’re not.
10 Neomorphs Have Larger Mouths
Compared to the Xenomorphs’ uncannily human-looking teeth, Neomorphs have mouths that have more in common with an animal. Specifically, their maws—which seem invisible when closed—were inspired by those of real life Goblin Sharks. And, unlike the Xenomorph, the Neomorphs can widen their bite by extending the reach of their gums.
Because of this, a Neomorph can cause more damage and pain with a single chomp. For comparison, a Xenomorph would require a number of bites to rip a human’s limb off while a Neomorph only needed to bite once to behead a Covenant crewmember.
9 Xenomorphs Have An Inner Jaw
Aside from its elongated head, a Xenomorph’s most defining feature is its extendable inner jaw which when shot out on command, is capable of penetrating skull and metal. After pinning down its prey, the Xenomorph would use its iconic oral phallus to deliver the killing blow, which the fandom has collectively called a “Headbite.”
While a Xenomorph’s bite may seem limited when compared to how wide a Neomorph can open its mouth, it makes up for this by using its more varied and lethal biology, with the inner jaw being one of its most prominent natural weapons.
8 Neomorphs Are Faster
Neomorphs should be feared for many reasons, but their speed is what makes them truly dreaded killers. While a Xenomorph’s speed is no laughing matter, it pales in comparison to the agility of the Neomorph. As demonstrated in the tall grass during Alien: Covenant, a single newborn Neomorph used its speed and agility to kill a good number of the Covenant’s crew in a matter of seconds. Thanks to this, the Neomorph was able to compensate for its limited stature and inflict multiple casualties on an already shrinking group before David showed up.
7 Xenomorphs Are Stronger
Xenomorphs may not be as fast as Neomorphs, but they’re definitely stronger than their pale predecessors. If Neomorphs excel at breaking flesh and bone, Xenomorphs can do that and more, tearing through ships’ metal hulls, prison cells, and more like they were nothing.
This also translates to their natural durability, which is something that the Neomorphs lack. Thanks to their thick skin and biomechanical aesthetic, Xenomorphs are known to take a lot of damage before going down. Neomorphs, on the other hand, only need a few well-placed bullets to be killed.
6 Neomorphs Evolve Faster
Like the Xenomorph, a Neomorph needs a host before it can begin its evolutionary process. But unlike its larger counterpart, the Neomorph takes a shorter amount of time to become a deadly predator. After the airborne bacteria contaminated by the Accelerant (aka the Black Goo) latches onto someone, a Bloodbusrter kills its host by exploding violently from their back. Though tiny, the Bloodburster is capable of killing people more than ten times its size, even before it matures into a Neomorph. Compared to the Xenomorph, which has to grow into a killer, a Neomorph is born as one.
5 Xenomorphs Have A Greater Biology
A Xenomorph’s life-cycle may take longer to develop than that of a Neomorph, but the end results are worth it. Though they start out small and weak, a Chestburster that’s able to escape its possible threats can mature into the towering and nigh-unstoppable killing machine known as the Xenomorph. With a nigh-impenetrable exoskeleton and acidic blood that acts as a natural defense mechanism to rapid parasitic reproduction that turns their victims into hosts for more of its kind, Chestbursters have many good reasons for taking their time to evolve into their deadly final forms.
4 Neomorphs Are More Aggressive
It’s been theorized that the titular creatures of the Alien movies were some ancient race’s living weapons, and the Neomorph embodies this perfectly. From the moment of its birth, a Neomorph’s first inkling is to kill any living lifeforms standing in front of it.
The terrors of the Alien movies have always been at their best when they were straightforward and brutal, and the being of pure instinct that is a Neomorph takes this mindset to a deadly extreme. Even if they were created by a delusional android with a god complex, there’s no pretense to the Neomorphs’ murderous efficiency.
3 Xenomorphs Are More Intelligent
What they may lack in raw violence, the Xenomorphs make up for in cunning. Compared to their more animalistic brethren, Xenomorphs have been shown to deliberately slow down their hunt to plan an ambush from the darkness. Some notable instances include the original Xenomorph stalking the halls of the Nostromo to methodically eliminate Ripley’s crew one by one, while a horde of the creatures used their numbers to understand and later overwhelm the sentry guns in Aliens. Despite their hulking presence, Xenomorphs are actually skilled hunters that know how to use their natural weaponry to devastating effect.
2 Neomorphs Are Manufactured
Instead of relying on a Face Hugger to implant a host with an egg, the Neomorphs are born when bacteria infected by the Accelerant enters a lifeform. This virus only came to be thanks to David’s actions, specifically when he unleashed it on the Engineers’ planet.
The Neomorphs are the byproduct of David’s mission to create his own “perfect organism,” meaning that, even if they were an unintentional creation, the amoral android can tweak his experiments to improve the creatures’ capacity for murder. Given how deadly they already are, David’s “improvements” can only make them worse.
1 Xenomorphs Are (Still) Truly Alien
Momentarily ignoring the fan-theories and Ridley Scott’s scrapped idea about the Engineers being their creator, no one knows where the Xenomorphs really came from and what they actually are. Bits and pieces of their origins and nature are scattered throughout the Alien franchise, but there is currently no clear picture to speak of. In theory, the Neomorphs can be eradicated if David and his experiments are taken out of the equation, whereas no one knows where to start with the Xenomorphs. Killing them and their Queen is only a temporary solution to a truly existential terror from deep space.