Analyzing the evolutionary biology of STAR WARS megafauna

"Why Is the Star Wars Universe Full of Megafauna?" This is the question that has plagued James Davis Nicoll for years. But it ultimately hit its peak after watching the recent season of The Mandalorian, which continues the tradition of giant apex predators in a galaxy far, far away.

Giant apex predators require a lot to sustain, grow, and perpetuate their species. So Nicoll decided to explore some possibilities as to how so many large creatures have spread around the Outer Rim and Core Systems, in an essay for

The Star Wars universe sure has a lot of large apex predators for a setting that has been civilized for tens of thousands of years.

This is not the case on present-day Earth. Biodiversity has taken a sharp nosedive in the last 20,000 years. Pretty much any large species that looks tasty, which might have a taste for humans, or lives on land for which we have other purposes in mind has vanished or been greatly reduced in numbers. Because human lifespans are so short, we take the Earth's depleted state as normal, so are spared angst over all the cool beasts no longer extant.


Perhaps the civilizations of the Star Wars galaxy decided in antiquity not to impoverish ecosystems. It might be that the Republic and the polities bordering it have had conservationist regulations for millennia. After all, nobody wants to live in a galaxy whose worlds are denuded deserts.


Perhaps the other large megafauna have analogous life cycles, lifeways that permit them to prosper despite civilization's best efforts to contain them. The Republic's slapdash approach to safety guidelines could work in the animals' advantage, the absence of methodically applied and effective quarantines might facilitate the spread of species fortunate enough to be preadapted to survive contact with intelligent beings. Basically, we're seeing the galactic equivalent of zebra snails and Pablo Escobar's hippos.

There is no confirmable canonical answer, of course, but Nicoll does propose a lot to think about, particularly in terms of urbanization, conservation, and colonialism.

Why Is the Star Wars Universe Full of Megafauna? [James Davis Nicoll / Tor]

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