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Thread: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

  1. #1

    Default The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    A bit after I just completed HotS during one of the missions on Zerus I noticed something... The brief cinematic that shows the first Zerg being born in the pool reveils that it has an inner skeleton (endoskeleton) rather than an exoskeleton. The creature resembles the larvae to the last detail.

    See for yourself (skip to 06:28):




    Are those really bones? Does it mean that larvae have endoskeletons as well as exoskeletons?

    Is that how the original creatures that the Xel'Naga found on Zerus and turned into the Zerg looked like or is it how they appear after being evolved by them?

    Also some time ago when Blizzard released the Valentine wallpapers the Zerg one featured two creatures (these ones) who seem to be of different genders. Now what I was curious about is are those the original creatures from which the Zerg evolved or are they simply larvae?
    I emailed Blizzard but unfortunately I didn't receive any reply

    I hope some of you can theorise on possible answers to these questions that have been troubling me


    Fictional Insects and Other Arthropods

    "What makes things baffling is their degree of complexity, not their sheer size;
    a star is simpler than an insect."

    Martin Rees 1999

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    A very interesting question! I don't have answers, but I do have thoughts. I read your introduction post, and I'm glad to have your bug enthusiasm around.

    Looking closely at that clip myself, I could see what could be interpreted as a backbone and a skull. But, since it's all in sepia tone, these could just be rigid-ish organs, not actual skeletal structures, right?

    I did always imagine the initial, parasitic Zerg as being boneless. But I admit this was partly influenced by the mollusc-like Yeerks from the Animorphs series, which can completely flatten their bodies to fit through people's ear canals. According to the manual, the Zerg parasites "burrow into the flesh of the less vulnerable species indigenous to Zerus. Feeding off the the nutrients contained within the spinal fluids of their hosts, the Zerg learned to parasitically merge with their host creatures." That kind of internal parasitism made me think of real parasitic worms when I was younger, which obviously have no skeletons.

    Later in life I switched to thinking them as more like the Tongue-Eating Louse, which is a much more accurate depiction of the 'burrowing into the host' 'feeding off its nutrients' and 'parasitically merging.' Plus, it matches the 'insectoid' description better than those worms. Obviously it's not an insect, but it is an arthropod, with an exoskeleton. So I imagined a Zerg larva-looking version of that.

    That said, there are vertebrates that also bite into their hosts and physically parasitically merge with them: the male anglerfish comes to mind. When it dissolves itself into the female's body, it does it on the outside, so there's like a little fish piece sticking off of her. But, you could imagine if the female were much bigger, and the male actually bit its way into her neck enough to merge with her spinal cord, and then imagine instead of male/female I meant the original Zerg and its host, I think that would work just fine, internal skeleton at all.


    Anyway, the TLDR of my opinion: I'm ok with endoskeletal original Zerg, that still works, although the fact that they were described as insectoid suggests they should also have had some amount of exoskeletal covering and segmented mouthparts or something. Zerglings have both endo- and exoskeletons, and it works.


    As for the Valentine's Day image, I wouldn't put any stock in it, I think the creature designs were just for fun. I'm pretty sure they're not meant to depict the original Zerg. The one on the left has little wings, which I don't think they associate with the original ones. If I had to put a label on them, I'd guess two larvae just beginning the process of morphing into other Zerg strains, the one on the left being a Zergling, but, again, I think it's just a one-time made-up piece of artwork.
    Last edited by Robear; 10-08-2014 at 04:47 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear View Post
    A very interesting question! I don't have answers, but I do have thoughts. I read your introduction post, and I'm glad to have your bug enthusiasm around.

    Looking closely at that clip myself, I could see what could be interpreted as a backbone and a skull. But, since it's all in sepia tone, these could just be rigid-ish organs, not actual skeletal structures, right?

    I did always imagine the initial, parasitic Zerg as being boneless. But I admit this was partly influenced by the mollusc-like Yeerks from the Animorphs series, which can completely flatten their bodies to fit through people's ear canals. According to the manual, the Zerg parasites "burrow into the flesh of the less vulnerable species indigenous to Zerus. Feeding off the the nutrients contained within the spinal fluids of their hosts, the Zerg learned to parasitically merge with their host creatures." That kind of internal parasitism made me think of real parasitic worms when I was younger, which obviously have no skeletons.

    Later in life I switched to thinking them as more like the Tongue-Eating Louse, which is a much more accurate depiction of the 'burrowing into the host' 'feeding off its nutrients' and 'parasitically merging.' Plus, it matches the 'insectoid' description better than those worms. Obviously it's not an insect, but it is an arthropod, with an exoskeleton. So I imagined a Zerg larva-looking version of that.

    That said, there are vertebrates that also bite into their hosts and physically parasitically merge with them: the male anglerfish comes to mind. When it dissolves itself into the female's body, it does it on the outside, so there's like a little fish piece sticking off of her. But, you could imagine if the female were much bigger, and the male actually bit its way into her neck enough to merge with her spinal cord, and then imagine instead of male/female I meant the original Zerg and its host, I think that would work just fine, internal skeleton at all.


    Anyway, the TLDR of my opinion: I'm ok with endoskeletal original Zerg, that still works, although the fact that they were described as insectoid suggests they should also have had some amount of exoskeletal covering and segmented mouthparts or something. Zerglings have both endo- and exoskeletons, and it works.


    As for the Valentine's Day image, I wouldn't put any stock in it, I think the creature designs were just for fun. I'm pretty sure they're not meant to depict the original Zerg. The one on the left has little wings, which I don't think they associate with the original ones. If I had to put a label on them, I'd guess two larvae just beginning the process of morphing into other Zerg strains, the one on the left being a Zergling, but, again, I think it's just a one-time made-up piece of artwork.
    Thank you! It's also great to see people that know so much about invertebrates

    I'm not familiar with the Animorphs series but I see what you mean.

    It's interesting that you brought Cymothoa exigua up, I never made the connection myself

    From the newest info about the larva unit available on the official site it seems that they have segmented body and a carapace, so they do have an exoskeleton. However I don't see how an endoskeleton would work with what the site says:
    Every segment of the Larva’s body contains all the required organs to ensure its survival in the direst situations. Such a trait, combined with near-instant wound clotting, allows Larvae to function and morph normally even if cut in half.
    It makes me think that the larvae don't really have a spine since that would make their ability to survive such treatment harder. Having a nervous system similar to insects fits it perfectly though, with a small "brain" inside each segment.

    The real question is exactly how close to the original Zerg are the larvae? Maybe the Xel'Naga actually helped them evolve an endoskeleton in order to be able to achieve bigger size as seen from one of the oldest drawings of a larva:



    Fictional Insects and Other Arthropods

    "What makes things baffling is their degree of complexity, not their sheer size;
    a star is simpler than an insect."

    Martin Rees 1999

  4. #4

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Ah sweet! There's not enough Zerg love going around here.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoodooWasp View Post
    It makes me think that the larvae don't really have a spine since that would make their ability to survive such treatment harder. Having a nervous system similar to insects fits it perfectly though, with a small "brain" inside each segment.

    The real question is exactly how close to the original Zerg are the larvae? Maybe the Xel'Naga actually helped them evolve an endoskeleton in order to be able to achieve bigger size as seen from one of the oldest drawings of a larva
    This is really good supposition, however I'm going to go back to the entry/description of the original Zerg parasite in the manual to answer this:

    The Xel'Naga were more successful with their second veture than they could have imagined. They labored to advance the evolution of the most insignificant life form on Zerus, a race of miniature insectoids known as the Zerg. Through Xel'Naga proto-genetic manipulations, the Zerg survived the torrential firestorms of their world and thrived. Although extremely small, worm-like, and posessing no ability to manipulate their physical surroundings, the Zerg adapted to survive.
    It describes them both being insectoid and worm-like (wormoid?), both of which share the common characteristics of being invertebrates. This would imply the original Zerg parasite would be unlikely to have an endoskeleton. If they were described as being snake-like then maybe they would.

    Of course, like you said, the Xel'Naga may have gifted them with an endoskeleton as a means to improve their ability to survive on Zerus. And as Robear has mentioned, being a vertebrate would not necessarily exclude them from being able to parasitically merge with a host.

    Then again, the suffix "-oid" and "-like" gives us a latitude. The Zerg parasite may just resemble insects and/or worms but are not exactly either given that they are, you know, alien! Either way, I'm happy with both interpretations of them having an endoskeleton to begin with or that it was an "upgrade" imparted by the Xel'Naga.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    Ah sweet! There's not enough Zerg love going around here.



    This is really good supposition, however I'm going to go back to the entry/description of the original Zerg parasite in the manual to answer this:



    It describes them both being insectoid and worm-like (wormoid?), both of which share the common characteristics of being invertebrates. This would imply the original Zerg parasite would be unlikely to have an endoskeleton. If they were described as being snake-like then maybe they would.

    Of course, like you said, the Xel'Naga may have gifted them with an endoskeleton as a means to improve their ability to survive on Zerus. And as Robear has mentioned, being a vertebrate would not necessarily exclude them from being able to parasitically merge with a host.

    Then again, the suffix "-oid" and "-like" gives us a latitude. The Zerg parasite may just resemble insects and/or worms but are not exactly either given that they are, you know, alien! Either way, I'm happy with both interpretations of them having an endoskeleton to begin with or that it was an "upgrade" imparted by the Xel'Naga.
    I wonder why

    It is possible that Blizzard only called them insectoids because they wanted people to associate them with insects, maybe they didn't really mean the exact anatomy of the original Zerg? As far as I know SC was originally going to be a WH 40K game (correct me if I'm wrong) so they might have wanted the Zerg to be insectoid because they were influenced by the Tyranids?

    It's also worth noting that insects and some other arthropods actually do have something like an endoskeleton, they're not exactly hollow tubes The difference is that this arthropodial endoskeleton is part of the exoskeleton, a bit like ingrowths to which the muscles attach. So if you think about it the original Zerg can have both skeleton types and still be insectoid but I doubt that Blizzard knew of this back then

    If they do have a spine it might actually help them merge with other vertebrate hosts by replacing their spine as Robear mentioned.

    The Zerg larva in the video is supposed to be the first Zerg, that is the first of the improved Zerg race NOT the original, or maybe I'm wrong?


    Fictional Insects and Other Arthropods

    "What makes things baffling is their degree of complexity, not their sheer size;
    a star is simpler than an insect."

    Martin Rees 1999

  6. #6

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Quote Originally Posted by VoodooWasp View Post
    I wonder why
    I wasn't talking about Raynor's fetish for tentacles.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoodooWasp View Post
    It is possible that Blizzard only called them insectoids because they wanted people to associate them with insects, maybe they didn't really mean the exact anatomy of the original Zerg? As far as I know SC was originally going to be a WH 40K game (correct me if I'm wrong) so they might have wanted the Zerg to be insectoid because they were influenced by the Tyranids?
    Probably - the Zerg as a whole are definitely Tyranid expys (though they are also expys for many any other terrifying "organic" aliens). I think it's perhaps due to ease of convenience. The Zerg larvae do tend to look like millipedes/centipede and although they are not insects they share other characteristics such that one can call describe those as being "insectoid". It probably sounded better keeping it simple by saying insectoid/work-like rather than saying millipede-oid/centipede-like. Also, they're definitely giant "bugs/creepy crawlies" (which are not limited to insects in generic speak), so snake-like would not do as a descriptor since that would imply something completely different due to it being of reptillian origins.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoodooWasp View Post
    It's also worth noting that insects and some other arthropods actually do have something like an endoskeleton, they're not exactly hollow tubes The difference is that this arthropodial endoskeleton is part of the exoskeleton, a bit like ingrowths to which the muscles attach. So if you think about it the original Zerg can have both skeleton types and still be insectoid but I doubt that Blizzard knew of this back then
    Heh, the technicality police wouldn't accept "something like" an endoskeleton as being an actual endoskeleton, especially if it originates from an actual exoskeleton. Still, I guess that could still be used to describe it being insectoid.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoodooWasp View Post
    If they do have a spine it might actually help them merge with other vertebrate hosts by replacing their spine as Robear mentioned.
    Not sure about the replacing the spine part since they fed off the spinal fluids of the hosts they infected. However, this could be an end-stage product of long-term infection since the Zerg parasite was eventually able to control the metabolic and anatomical process of its host.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoodooWasp View Post
    The Zerg larva in the video is supposed to be the first Zerg, that is the first of the improved Zerg race NOT the original, or maybe I'm wrong?
    Your guess is as good as mine. I've always supposed Blizz represented the Primal Zerg in HotS as being the Zerg unsullied by Xel'Naga manipulation because all of those Zerg that were "manipulated" are part of the corruption that Amon has inflicted on them through their hivemind connection.
    Yes, that's right! That is indeed ME on the right.


    _______________________________________________

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    Probably - the Zerg as a whole are definitely Tyranid expys
    Eh, at the time of Starcraft's release, Nids were in their 2nd edition, which was released in 1993.

    And their 2nd edition....look nothing like the Zerg.



    3rd edition looks more like the Zerg, but the 3rd edition was released in 2001, three years after Starcraft.



    The Zerg took inspiration from Aliens, and maybe the Bugs from Starship Troopers, but the Nids of the time weren't anywhere close to what the Zerg look like.

    Heck, you could reasonably argue that the Nids were inspired by the Zerg in looks.
    Last edited by Shadow Archon; 10-08-2014 at 10:19 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Archon View Post
    Eh, at the time of Starcraft's release, Nids were in their 2nd edition, which was released in 1993.

    And their 2nd edition....look nothing like the Zerg.

    Well, Zerg also changed over SC's development. I think Metzen's Zerg actually fit in pretty well with that picture, with the hands and bright colors.


  9. #9

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    Quote Originally Posted by Turalyon View Post
    Probably - the Zerg as a whole are definitely Tyranid expys (though they are also expys for many any other terrifying "organic" aliens). I think it's perhaps due to ease of convenience. The Zerg larvae do tend to look like millipedes/centipede and although they are not insects they share other characteristics such that one can call describe those as being "insectoid". It probably sounded better keeping it simple by saying insectoid/work-like rather than saying millipede-oid/centipede-like. Also, they're definitely giant "bugs/creepy crawlies" (which are not limited to insects in generic speak), so snake-like would not do as a descriptor since that would imply something completely different due to it being of reptillian origins.



    Heh, the technicality police wouldn't accept "something like" an endoskeleton as being an actual endoskeleton, especially if it originates from an actual exoskeleton. Still, I guess that could still be used to describe it being insectoid.



    Not sure about the replacing the spine part since they fed off the spinal fluids of the hosts they infected. However, this could be an end-stage product of long-term infection since the Zerg parasite was eventually able to control the metabolic and anatomical process of its host.



    Your guess is as good as mine. I've always supposed Blizz represented the Primal Zerg in HotS as being the Zerg unsullied by Xel'Naga manipulation because all of those Zerg that were "manipulated" are part of the corruption that Amon has inflicted on them through their hivemind connection.
    We can all agree that the Zerg are not that original but are rather a mix of many pre-existing ideas which in it's way can produce something original

    Well you could easily say that the human skull is an exoskeleton, insects do have endoskeletons just not made from bone, turtles for example have both types and their exoskeleton is connected to the inner one but it counts

    The parasitic Zerg's goal was merging with the host so I can see them wanting to replace a part of the creature's body.

    It's funny how the corrupted Zerg are more insectoid than the "pure" Primal Zerg, maybe the real Zerg are inside those bodies? And isn't Zurvan the oldest Primal Zerg? He's pretty insectoid in a way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Archon View Post
    Eh, at the time of Starcraft's release, Nids were in their 2nd edition, which was released in 1993.

    And their 2nd edition....look nothing like the Zerg.

    The Zerg took inspiration from Aliens, and maybe the Bugs from Starship Troopers, but the Nids of the time weren't anywhere close to what the Zerg look like.

    Heck, you could reasonably argue that the Nids were inspired by the Zerg in looks.
    They still resemble them a lot which is not a coincidence if you ask me. As for the Bugs from SST they might have influenced the Zerg but only later in production since the movie came out during late 1997 while the Zerg were already being defined as a concept. If you could find any early pre-1997 artwork of the Zerg maybe we can see how SST influenced their design

    If you ask me the Bugs from Roughnecks are so close to the Zerg that it's just ridiculous, yet the show came out in 1999 an year after SC came out so it had nothing to do with the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robear View Post
    Well, Zerg also changed over SC's development. I think Metzen's Zerg actually fit in pretty well with that picture, with the hands and bright colors.

    Exactly!

    The original idea for the Zerg was very Tyranid-like in appearance, heck it's pretty darn obvious I'm sure that later Tyranids concepts and designs might have been heavily influenced by the Zerg but don't forget that SC was originally going to be a WH 40K game.


    Fictional Insects and Other Arthropods

    "What makes things baffling is their degree of complexity, not their sheer size;
    a star is simpler than an insect."

    Martin Rees 1999

  10. #10

    Default Re: The Original Zerg Insectoids?

    It's pretty obvious they both got the idea from Alien.

    which was 15-20 years for SC I Era Zerg and 40K 3rd edition Tyranids

    Same source inspiration, and thus similiar designs.

    if anything's "expy" they're both an expy of alien.

    " but don't forget that SC was originally going to be a WH 40K game."

    Huh? no it wasn't.

    WARCRAFT was supposed to be a Warhammer Fantasy game.

    #1 StarCraft was originally going to be a post-apocalyptic RTS called "Shattered Nations"

    #2 Then blizzard ended that, moved some of the assets to their WarCraft II clone (IN SPACE!!!)

    #3 After Blizzard listend to the complaints (back when they cared) they changed the engine and StarCraft Beta was born

    There's no 40K in it's history.

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