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10 Real Animals That Inspired Species in Star Wars

10 Real Animals That Inspired Species in Star Wars

In a galaxy far, far away… there are alien species like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Well, maybe a little bit like something you’ve seen before. The creators of the Star Wars franchise were imaginative, but their imaginations were inspired by very Earth-bound creatures. We don’t always know exactly what they were thinking, but we can show you some real-life animals that look and behave very much like the creatures you know and love from the most popular science fiction worlds ever depicted on the big screen.

A member of the Wookiee species, Chewbacca is Han Solo’s ever-faithful and ever-complaining second-in-command. He looks pretty much like a sasquatch or an orangutan, but George Lucas said the real inspiration was his dog, Indiana. When the massive Alaskan Malamute would ride in the passenger seat of Lucas’ car, people sometimes mistook it for a hairy person.

Ewoks are native to Endor, a forest-covered moon. They’re like little 3-foot-tall Wookies. Lucas modeled this creature after another of his dogs, a Griffon Bruxellois, and the resemblance is striking! Despite having only a hunter-gatherer level of technology, in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the Ewoks helped defeat the Empire and destroy the second Death Star. Lucas said this idea of a less-advanced society overcoming a technologically superior one came from examples like the Viet Cong and the American Revolutionaries.

Jar Jar Binks is, without a doubt, the most reviled sentient species in the Star Wars franchise. Despite overwhelming negative feedback from audiences and critics, he appeared in all three of the Star Wars prequel movies as well as the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. A member of the Gungan race, Jar Jar was modeled after the hadrosaurus, a prehistoric duck-billed dinosaur. Fortunately for Jar Jar, he is more popular with fans who were first introduced to him as small children rather than as teens or adults.

In the Star Wars galaxy, the Mon Calamari are an amphibious salmon-colored fish-like species with webbed hands and large eyes on the sides of their heads. Their most famous representative is Admiral Ackbar, the supreme admiral of the Rebel Alliance’s navy. Back on Earth, “Calamari” is the plural of the Italian word for squid and usually describes the battered, deep-fried appetizer made from them. Which makes the Admiral not only a brave hero but potentially a delicious snack as well!

Porgs are beakless seabirds that appear in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. They are native to Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker lived in exile as a Jedi Master. They were modeled after puffins, which are cute, inquisitive birds that live on the Irish coast where some scenes of The Last Jedi were filmed. Features and behaviors of seals and pug dogs were also inspirations for these lovable creatures.

Despite his diminutive size, Yoda was one of the greatest Jedi Masters, responsible for training Jedi for over 800 years! His most noteworthy role in the Star Wars franchise was to train young Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. Yoda’s species gained a whole new charge of popularity with the introduction of Din Grogu—colloquially known as “Baby Yoda”—in The Mandalorian Disney+ television series.

No creature on Earth looks more like Yoda and his mini-me than the tarsier. These miniature primates from Southeast Asia have heads and bodies about 10-15 cm long. Nocturnal animals, tarsiers, have excellent hearing and night vision, with gigantic eyes of 1.6 cm in diameter each that give them a distinctly alien appearance. Cute as they are, forget about having one as a pet. They are highly sensitive, will die if caged, and have never been raised successfully in captivity.

Tauntauns are one of the most recognizable Star Wars species because of their role in saving the life of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. These 9-foot-tall furry snow lizards look like kangaroos with rams’ horns and long lizard tails. They served as mounts for the rebels on patrol around their base on the ice planet Hoth. After escaping a wampa attack, Luke almost freezes to death until Han Solo arrives, slices open his recently-deceased tauntaun, and stuffs Luke inside to keep him warm. If you would like to relive this epic moment, you can buy an adult-sized tauntaun sleeping bag with a zipper down its belly!

In Star Wars, Jabba the Hutt and his species are obviously modeled after slugs. The Hutts look like enormous blobs of fat, gliding with no feet over the floor but mainly sitting in one place, surveying their domain. If Jabba is a typical representative of their species, we can say they are criminal masterminds, hedonists, and sadists, randomly killing for their own amusement. How Jabba-like are real-life snails? Well, they are omnivorous—eating worms, vegetation, feces, and other snails. Our guess is that if we shrank Princess Leia and Han Solo down to snail scale, they would be in just as much danger as they were in the film!

Banthas are 10-foot-tall mammalians that look a lot like woolly mammoths but have curling horns like bighorn rams. They’ve also been compared to yaks, cow-like beasts of burden found primarily in the Himalayas. Oddly, hairy as they are, Banthas are native to Tatooine, a desert world of a binary star system that appears in the first Star Wars movie. Tusken Raiders, or Sand People, use them to carry heavy loads. Maybe the hair has some alien cooling properties?

Of course, the AT-AT or Imperial Walker isn’t an animal but a terrifying military weapon. But they move like animals, and you have to admit if you owned one, you’d name it and treat it like a pet. A pet that’s 74 feet tall, 85 feet long, walks on four legs, and shoots lasers from its head! The animators modeled these bad boys after African elephants and even brought one into the studio to observe and record how it walked to make AT-ATs more believable. They made them into such appealing characters, it’s enough to make you think about going over to the Dark Side. Just for a quick game of laser tag, of course.

Source: A-Z Animals