If you’re a fan of Star Wars V (The Empire Strikes Back), you’ll remember two featured creatures: the tauntaun, a snow lizard ridden by Luke Skywalker; and the wampa, a white-furred predator of amazing stealth and power. Both are denizens of the ice planet Hoth, a one-time Rebel outpost.
You probably won’t remember the crystal lattice creature, pictured below. That’s because I just made it up! (But if it isn’t a native of Hoth, maybe it ought to be.)
A rare life-form, the creature consists primarily of organic crystalline iron and calcium, drawn from the blood and bones of its prey. These are arrayed in plates of varying sizes, as pictured here.
Whenever an unwary animal wanders within reach of the crystal lattice creature, it snaps suddenly into a death-grip around it, then gradually tightens until the prey suffocates. Having no mouth, the creature simply absorbs from its victim the nutrients it needs, typically emerging larger from the struggle.
A crystal lattice creatures do not stalk or pursue is prey. It lies in wait. Most denizens of Hoth live in ice-caves or other spaces protected from the cold. The creature will drape itself over the shelter opening and wait. Here it is blocking the cave of a wampa similar to the one that attacked Luke Skywalker.
When the wampa returns from its hunt, and finds its cave-door obstructed, it probably will try to force its way in. (Most wampas have never seen a crystal lattice creature and may not recognize it as dangerous.) The creature will then encircle and squeeze the wampa, wait till its struggles cease, then feed at leisure.
Occasionally a wampa (or other target) will be too smart to come within range of the crystal lattice creature. But in that case, one or more of the prey’s offspring, trapped inside, will eventually try to emerge. In that case the creature will nonetheless enjoy a smaller but still satisfying meal.
Will we see the crystal lattice creature in action in the forthcoming Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens? Almost certainly not! So enjoy the glimpse here, courtesy of my digital-art alter-ego, +Fractal Fran.