Zoology: Tauntaun


Natural Range:
Hoth: ice plains.
Social herbivore.

Tauntauns are readily-domesticated herd-living herbivores which roam the icy wastes of the sixth planet in the Hoth system. They feed upon fungal growths which can be found in sheltered ice caves, and beneath shallow snow. Tauntauns are the primary prey of the huge and vicious semi-intelligent wampas. Female tauntauns are distinguished from males by the presence of large curved horns on each side of the head. The horns are using in ritualised fights between females during the mating season. Tauntauns have four nostrils.

Body temperature is regulated at a level which is above freezing point and is considered "warm" by human standards. Although they are officially called reptiles, their hair and probable endothermy mean that tauntauns cannot be reptiles in the usual terrestrial sense. However the modern terrestrial notion of a "reptile" becomes problematic and ambiguous when prehistoric examples are considered: hairy pterosaurs; feathered carnivorous dinosaurs in China; and mammal-like reptiles of the Triassic period which may have had hair and which did have nasal turbinates seemingly shaped to warm air travelling to the lungs. Since tauntauns don't have visible mammery organs they needn't be called "mammals", and they can probably be considered "reptiles" or "reptiles in a derived state".

The abdominal cavity of a tauntaun is filled with translucent white sausage-like innards. As with most carbon/water life-forms, the insides of a tauntaun are moist, but if there is a circulatory fluid akin to human blood then it is either transparent or else it passes through the abdominal region in only small rates. (This is according to observations of a gutted tauntaun in The Empire Strikes Back. The usual cauterising effect of a lightsabre beam could not alone account for the bloodlessness of so deep an abdominal wound.)

At the time of Return of the Jedi, tauntauns were known to citizens of the galaxy other than those members of the Rebel Alliance who had been based on Hoth. This is attested by the presence of a tauntaun head mounted on the wall of the throne room of the Tatooine palace of Jabba the Hutt. The head was situated to the left of Jabba's favorite decoration, the carbonite-encased body of Han Solo. It can be assumed that minions of the Hutt engaged in a tauntaun hunt at some point. It would be interesting to know whether this happened before or after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. The planet Hoth might not be as isolated and unvisited as the rebels had hoped.

* * *
Dissection of tauntaun by lightsabre. Note the absence of recognisable blood or equivalent fluid.

A domesticated female tauntaun carrying a rebel officer races over the wastes of Hoth.

Skeleton of a tauntaun lies in the lair of a wampa. Note the thickness of the vertebrae. Long ventral spines may be attachment points for powerful musculature. The absence of visible ribs may have more to do with the eating habits of the wampa than with tauntaun anatomy.

SWRPG statistics:

Dexterity 2D
Perception 3D
Strength 4D
Special abilities:
Charge attack: Strength+1D+1 damage.
Arctic creature: can withstand frigid temperatures.
Move: 16
Orneriness: 1D



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Original content is © copyright Dr Curtis Saxton 2000.
Last updated 18 October 2000.

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