The Ass Blaster is the term for is the third and final morph/stage of the Graboid's life cycle, the imago stage. Much like butterfly is the term for the imago stage of a caterpillar. A Shrieker having achieved maturity, enters the third known phase of the Graboid life cycle: the Ass Blaster (C. mexicana combustus). The Ass Blaster differs from the Shrieker in three significant ways: It possesses wings; it has a rocket-like ability to launch itself into the air; and it has the ability to lay eggs. It is considered by some (including Burt Gummer), to be an even larger threat than Shriekers and Graboids due to their heat seeking abilities and their ability to glide after blasting off. This ability to fly is the result off the Ass Blaster's most unique ability in which the Ass Blaster works two chemicals into it's tail section. They come from two separate organs in the body with these in turn go to two separate sacs that inflate with the chemicals so that they can mix them in the air and blast off. Once these two chemicals mix, they become volatile and react violently when exposed to the air, creating a lifting explosion. Much like the Bombardier Beetle.
The Ass Blaster's appearance is slightly different from it's previous Shrieker form and that the body is longer but more slightly built with fin like wings used for controlled gliding. The skull is far thinner than the last two forms and is a glossy black contrasting with the Ass Blaster's mostly reddish orange body and tan wings. They are just over six feet long, tip to tail, about three feet high, and have head and jaw about two feet long. The heat sensing organ is far more compact being like two slits for eyes as the creature visibly looked left, right and down when looking for the movie protagonists. The Ass Blaster premiered in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, resulting from the Shrieker reaching their molting period of 12 hours. They molt out of the skin of the shrieker leaving it and an orangeish liquid material left behind. The flame resulting from the Ass Blaster's take off is exceedingly hot, a fact of acknowledged when one of them started to use it to melt the door to Burt's safe room open. This heat also works in their favor if someone tries to tranquilize it, as the sheer heat in the posterior region of an Ass Blaster will neutralize the effects of any tranquilizers to strike its rear end.
Ass Blasters' Reproductive RoleEdit
To recap: An egg hatches a Graboid. The Graboid worm matures and dies to birth several Shrieker offspring. The Shriekers feed and produce additional Shriekers (which, as noted elsewhere, appear to be pre-developed siblings). The Shriekers then metamorphose into Ass Blasters, each of which lays at least one egg to produce more Graboids. The reproductive cycle of genus Caederus is, to say the least, unique among all known higher life-forms.
At some unknown point the Ass Blaster's life it will lay one or possibly more eggs, thereby perpetuating the species; this assumption is based on a look at the creatures inside's with only one egg being visible at that time. It is also unknown if they will die or lay another egg after a period of time. It is possible given the pack behavior seen in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection that the creature will communally lay eggs in special geographic areas (most likely arid environments), similar to sea turtles. However another theory has Ass Blaster as a solitary egg layer as when Ass Blasters shriek they do not release the same amount of heat as a shrieker, because unlike Shriekers who are designed to alert each other when they find food, ass blasters are more solitary animals and do not as much need for them to signal each other about food sources.
Alternatively, It has been proposed by some researchers that the Ass Blaster is simply the female of the Graboid species. The evidence supporting this theory is scant, however. The conclusion of this research program is that the Shriekers and Ass blasters both appear to be gender-neutral and capable of parthenogenic (asexual) reproduction.
Because Ass Blasters seem to be a genuine metamorphosed form of Shriekers, it is likely that a gestational version of the Graboid egg is present in each Shrieker. It is possible that the trigger for the metamorphosis of a Shrieker into an Ass blaster is connected to the development and fertilization of the Graboid egg.
It is still not understood whether an Ass blaster lays only the one Graboid egg that is inside its body at the time it is spawned, or if it is capable of creating multiple eggs over the course of its lifetime. If Ass blasters employ the same reproductive strategy as adult Graboids, they might be intended to serve as nourishment for the newly hatched Graboid. If, however, Graboid hatchlings are relatively self-sufficient, an Ass blaster might be capable of gestating multiple eggs over the course of its lifetime.
[ Corollary: It is worth noting that there is no documented proof that the egg laid by an Ass Blaster will yield a Graboid hatchling. All such eggs — and often the Ass Blasters that laid them — have been destroyed prior to hatching. Furthermore, the one Ass blaster known to have survived in captivity — Sigmund and Ray's "Messerschmitt" — has so far not gestated or laid any eggs.
Whether this is a clue to a necessary fertilization step in the Graboid reproductive cycle, or evidence of a single-egg cycle, is unknown at this time. ]
Ass Blaster BiochemistryEdit
Special attention should be paid to the Ass Blaster's spectacular rocket-propulsion ability. The closest natural analogy to this ability may be the volatile discharge produced by the bombardier beetle as a natural defense mechanism. The Ass Blaster, however, clearly generates a compound far more explosive than that of the bombardier beetle. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Ass Blaster's fuel is a highly combustible, methane-based binary compound.
This "ass-blasting" behavior almost certainly evolved as a by-product of the Graboid's digestive processes. Birds and reptiles have a continuous digestive tract that encompasses their reproductive organs. Consequently, whereas mammals have separate orifices and organs for sexual functions and excretion, birds have only a single orifice, known as the cloaca. It is unclear at this time whether the ass-blasting mechanism is a single organ or gland or multiple organs acting in concert; or whether it is segregated from or integrated into the Ass Blaster's digestive tract. For this report, however, we have agreed to refer to the Ass Blaster's rear orifice as the cloaca.
The Ass Blaster is believed to produce the chemicals it requires within its body, perhaps as a result of its complex metabolism. We speculate that the fuel for the ass-blasting ability is binary (i.e., composed of two substances that do not ignite until mixed) and that the Ass Blaster stores these substances in separate glands or bladders. The process of filling these "bladders" is probably continuous. Then, when an Ass Blaster needs to fly, it empties the correct amount of propellant from some of its storage bladders into the colon above the cloaca. The storage bladders immediately seal after discharge and begin accumulating more fuel.
In a coordinated release, the Ass Blaster then discharges its ignition bladder and releases its cloaca sphincter. If the propellant is a true binary compound, timing is critical: If the fluid ignites too early, the Ass Blaster will explode. If the sphincter opens too quickly, the propellant will disperse before it can be usefully ignited.
The cloaca, or the bodily chamber that holds the propellant, must be a remarkable organ. It must be tough enough to withstand an explosion strong enough to propel a creature weighing more than 100 pounds hundreds of yards through the air. Simple Newtonian physics would argue, in fact, that the Ass Blaster should explode from the magnitude of the blast. The fact that it does not implies that its cloaca must be not only strong but fireproof.
The cloaca presumably has some form of calcium lining, which is not without precedent in the species. The Graboid possesses the equivalent of an internal skeleton as well as outer shell segments. Furthermore, the Ass Blaster lays eggs with hard shells, so it must metabolize calcium. In birds, and probably in the Ass Blaster, the eggshell is generated within or just beyond the cloacal tract. It is therefore not unreasonable to posit that the Ass Blaster can secrete a calcium-based lining to reinforce its propellant chamber.
The calcium reinforcing the cloaca is probably not a single structure (which would be too brittle) but rather a complex of jointed segments that can bend or stretch to absorb shocks more effectively. This cloacal structure presumably is linked to the semi-rigid internal structure in order to evenly distribute impact forces throughout the Ass Blaster's body.
Hunting and intelligenceEdit
Ass Blasters hunt like birds of prey, scanning the ground for prey while gliding on hot air currents. Their heat sensors are much wider than Shriekers', allowing them to view large sections of land at the same time. Judging from shots in Tremors 3 depicting the Ass Blasters' point of view, the heat they sense is processed into an infrared-camera-like image, just like how Shriekers see the world. An Ass Blaster's heat vision is much more detailed than a Shrieker's, actually being able to distinguish faint evidence of facial expressions. Like the other creatures, Ass Blasters are also attracted to inedible heat sources such as fires. It is not known how they would transverse large distances, such a flock of ducks or geese would, the reason for this quandary is that the only flight formation seen is that of a circling vulture like pattern when hunting.
For reasons unexplained in the film, unlike their previous form, Shriekers, an Ass Blaster will slip into a coma after eating, instead of multiplying. They could possibly (though this theory is unsupported) be processing the meal into making more eggs. It is unknown how long it will take for one to actually lay an egg.
Like the other life cycle stages, Ass Blasters are intelligent, capable of learning from their mistakes. When several Ass Blasters were blown up by being shot with burning spears fired from a makeshift potato gun in Tremors 3, one Ass Blaster quickly learned to dodge these projectiles.
Reproduction and safetyEdit
Approximately 24 to 72 hours after being spawned, depending on numerous variables, Shriekers metamorphose into winged creatures that Perfection businesswoman Jodi Chang has nicknamed Ass Blasters.
Ass Blasters are so named because they launch themselves into flight by igniting an explosive mixture of liquids produced in their bodies; they blast off like rockets, then glide for up to several miles. They cannot fly like birds.
Like Shriekers, Ass Blasters hunt via infrared radiation and are voracious. Also like Shriekers, Ass Blasters are considered extremely dangerous and are not protected by law. They should be killed on sight.
An Ass Blaster is "born" with a single Graboid egg in its abdomen. It is thought that an Ass Blaster's evolutionary goal is to carry its egg as far as possible, to ensure the spread of the species. This, however, is only a theory.
Very little else is known about Ass Blasters or Shriekers. One Ass Blaster currently lives in captivity in Las Vegas, the property of Siegfried and Roy, who are underwriting research on the creature. It was sold to them by Nancy Sterngood and her teen-age daughter, Mindy who captured it.
If an Ass Blaster is encountered in the wild, it is possible to conceal oneself by masking one's body heat (see the safety tip regarding Shriekers). Another important note is that, unlike Shriekers, Ass Blasters do not multiply. If they eat to excess, they will enter a state that survival expert Burt Gummer calls "food coma." If you are unable to mask your body heat from an Ass Blaster, attempt instead to sate its hunger with high-calorie foodstuffs until such time as it becomes dormant.