Zoology: Hoth blood

Hoth blood

Joshua Nolan, student of biochemistry, offers the following:

You state that tauntauns (is that the plural?) and wampas don't appear to have much blood. I've come up with a few explanations (theorising that their biochemistry isn't vastly different to terrestrial life - which is the universal cop-out...)

1) They rely on oxygen diffusion through their tissues instead of blood. This would require they have a body temperature of a lot less lower than freezing (which could still appear 'warm' in comparison with Hoth's temperature). The largest terrestrial adult organism that uses this method is the Antarctic icefish, at temperatures of about -1.9 degrees C. I don't feel that this is too feasible, since to lower the freezing point of the fluids to a degree where such large organisms can rely on it requires a high concentration of dissolved material (sugars, salts, and so on), and at these temperatures they wouldn't dissolve very easily.

2) They use a different oxygen-transport molecule - I can't remember the names, but there are a couple of haemoglobin-analogs that are colourless when deoxygenated - I would have just said haemocyanin, but I can't recall if it has a colourless phase. Their amount of blood depends on their internal temperature - if it is close to freezing, they could conceivably have very little blood, but if it is actually warm (say >20 degrees C) then they would require blood in quantities that we'd expect from terrestrial beasts of comparable size.

3) Or perhaps the cauterising effect of lightsabres is greater than you seem to feel, and the bleeding from the severed limb in Mos Eisley was the exception to the rule. Perhaps the owner of the limb suffered from a disease akin to haemophilia that reduced the cauterising effect, or perhaps it is a characteristic of that species's blood. (I know, radically different biochemistries, but I seem to recall the limb gave a spurt or two, rather than gushing like you might expect if it's not cauterised at all, which would suggest it was imperfectly cauterised.)

I'm personally in favour of the third - if I remember correctly, the tauntaun is shown to have red blood when the wampa eats it in the Special Edition (I could be wrong, it's getting late and I might be hallucinating) and the wampa obviously thinks Luke resembles food, which would seem to be evidence against the 'radically different biochemistries' cop-out.

Perhaps the implications of the wampa feeding in TESB:SE can be avoided? There is no proof that the meat being eaten is really from a tauntaun. It might be part of a rebel soldier who died and was dragged away during one of the wampa attacks which was cut from the film but which exists in the novel and comic versions of The Empire Strikes Back.



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