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The Graboid, also known as the Dirt Dragon or Tu Lung in the 19th century, is a fictional invertebrate species that is the primary antagonist of the Tremors franchise. The creature made its debut in the 1990 film Tremors, and reappeared in all its sequels Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996), Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001), and prequel Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (2004). It was also featured regularly in the series' spin-off Tremors: The Series (2003), with El Blanco being a recurring character. A variant was featured in the 2015 film Tremors 5: Bloodlines.
It seems that considering the information presented in the movies this entire life cycle can take place in about 9 months, however due to the eggs ability to hibernate for extended periods of time this is likely the reason that the creatures were virtually unknown up until the late 20th century. The 4th Tremors movie is the first chronological reappearance of the Graboids, it begins a time when Grabboid pockets are reawakened all over the world as suspected by scientists (according to Burt).
These are laid by Ass Blasters
Dirt Dragons are the baby Grabboids from Tremors 4, also known as Dirt Dragons and Tu-Long. So far they have only appeared in Tremors 4.
The standard Grabboid is the only creature to have appeared in all four entries, and also the 2003 TV series of the same name. There are two known species: one in North America and the other in Africa. in both species, the Graboid is the first stage in the creatures' life cycle. In Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, which is a prequel taking place in 1889, thus before they got their current name, they are referred to as "dirt dragons". The name "Grabboid" was invented by shop owner character in the first film, Tremors, Walter Chang; who was subsequently eaten by one. Promotional material written by the Sci Fi Channel classifies them as Devonian Era invertebrate predators, possibly Cephalopods.
Grabboids are depicted as subterranean animals, superficially resembling gigantic worms or larva, with long, serpentine bodies. When fully grown, a mature American Graboid will measure up to 30 feet long, and 6 feet across at its widest girth and weigh 10-20 tons. From the information gained through the knowledge presented in Tremors 4 it takes them about 3 months to attain this size. Anatomically speaking, the Grabboid is a tube wrapped with thick skin-muscle, which is necessary to manipulate its external spines. Presumably, it must also possess a semi-rigid internal structure (though not a true endoskeleton) since it can burst through concrete (though such an impact kills it). Less dramatically, the Grabboid's ability to lift its upper body into the air, as well as bear the weight of the soil through which it moves, also suggests a semi-rigid internal structure. The internal cuttle-bone structure is probably coupled with a strong musculature. It is logical to assume that a Grabboid propels itself underground partly with its surface spines, and partly with an overall motion of its body. A strong internal musculature would enable the Grabboid to flex its entire body, undulating in a curling, corkscrew motion through the ground. Grabboids completely lack eyes as they live underground. Their heads consist of a massive, black, armored beak, which is used to push aside the dirt whilst digging. The beak opens up like a grotesque flower; it consists of a wide upper jaw, a thinner lower jaw, and a pair of hooked mandibles on either side, they measure three feet long. Whether they possess a skeleton or not is unknown, though a faux scientific document written by the Sci-Fi channel hypotheses they have a semi-rigid internal structure, similar to the internal cuttle-bones of certain cephalopods, such as cuttlefish.
Grabboids have a trio of long, powerful, serpent-like tentacles, which are prehensile and have a reach of at least ten feet. Normally kept retracted in the Grabboid's throat, these tentacles were initially mistaken for the actual creatures, causing the characters in the first Tremors film to underestimate their underground opponents. The Grabboid's common name is derived from these prehensile tentacles, which "grab" prey and suck it down the Grabboid's hungry gullet. The three "tongues" each have a mouth, teeth and two pairs of horn like projections on the upper jaw and lower jaw. The tentacles are used in other ways besides grasping. Other purposes of these erstwhile appendages include sensing very subtle vibrations and feeling around basically acting as the creatures arms and hands. However, unlike human hands the tentacles have taste sensors inside the mouth-like jaws. So when a tentacle's jaws close on something, the Graboid can quickly tell if the something is worth reeling in to eat. While at times, these tentacles appear to have minds of their own, hissing and writhing like snakes, they, like an octopuses tentacles, are simply extensions of the creature. Food is typically swallowed whole, though early in the original Tremors film, they are shown to dismember and decapitate their prey, this was shown again with the Old Fred of Tremors 4 this likely points to necessity if it senses other prey approaching and needs to start after them. They apparently have a slow metabolism, at least for the sterile ones like El Blanco, as it was only hinted at to defaecate in the last episode of the series.
A Graboid's hide is thick and leathery, with a rough, pebbly texture, giving them a reptilian appearance (though they are not reptiles). This makes them very hard to kill with anything short of saturation bombing or large-bore rounds, usually from guns designed for large animals such as elephants and buffalo. Grabboids possess immense physical strength, able to topple over mobile homes, tow along an object heavy as a pickup truck without slowing down, smash through brick walls and pull an entire station wagon underground. Encircling their bodies are short spikes, which all move in unison to push the Grabboid through the dirt (more specifically Pleistocene alluvial Soil), similar to the setae on an earthworm. Their top speed is around 15-20 mph in good loose soil. Therefore they are able to burrow faster than a human can run; a Graboid cannot not catch motorized vehicles like cars or dirt bikes, as shown in Tremors 3: Back to Perfection when Jack's truck was able to outrun a Graboid. Also it was been shown throughout the series and Tremors 4 that galloping horses can out pace Graboids. With armored head and mobile spikes working together in unison, a Graboid can "swim" through the loose soil at high speed like a shark in the water, though they are incapable of tunneling through solid rock. Graboids (and their nymph and imago forms, the Shrieker and Ass Blaster respectively) have distinctive orange blood. Graboids also have a powerful stench, which is made evident on several occasions throughout the first film. Though underplayed in the 2nd and 3rd films, the Grabboid's stench becomes a critical plot point in Tremors 4; Juan is able to identify the Graboids as being the unseen killers in the silver mines where they are small and jump from the ground extremely fast with a hard shell on their back, hunting by sound, shedding their shells and growing to become matured Graboids later in the film due to them sharing the same vile odor. The Graboids' greatest weakness is that it is unable to tell the terrain of the environment it is in before it's too late, which is demonstrated when Earl and Val trick one into running into a concrete wall, and when Val tricks Stumpy into running off of a cliff.
For obvious reasons, it has been all but impossible to directly observe the creature underground; observations of the surface soil above a Graboid's route, however, show that such soil is sometimes humped erratically, producing a series of rises and falls rather than a continuous ridge. This disturbance of the ground is consistent with a writhing, flexing mode of travel. Furthermore, when a Grabboid surfaces, it often does so while turning its head or body in a circular motion, supporting the corkscrew theory of locomotion.
The Graboid appears to respirate the same nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere as other terrestrial animals. Witnesses have heard Grabboids sometimes expel blasts of air. This implies that Graboid's possess lungs. Whether these lungs resemble vertebrate lungs is unknown. On a related topic, the Grabboid, Shrieker and Ass Blaster all have closed circulatory systems; their reddish-orange blood has been well-documented. This suggests that they possess a cardiopulmonary system, a heart pump and an oxygen-based blood-transport system.
The Grabboid would seem to require astonishing levels of energy to propel its prodigious bulk underground faster than a human can run above ground, yet it does so almost routinely when pursuing prey. It is possible that the Graboid spends most of its time in a torpid or dormant state to recover from these short, intense bursts of activity.
The Shriekers' rapid self-replication and the Ass Blaster's ability to generate volatile chemicals capable of launching it skyward suggest extremely efficient metabolisms. Like the Graboid, however, these creatures appear to need rest while digesting food and after prolonged expenditures of energy. Supporting this theory is the observation that, when fully fed, an Ass Blaster collapses into a "food coma" in order to digest and to regain its equilibrium.
Curiously, in addition to its feats of speed and its ability to digest large prey, the Graboid has even shown an occasional willingness to eat metal. One of the creatures swallowed a large metal drum containing Burt Gummer, and there is also a report of Grabboids attacking a station wagon. Did the Graboids involved in these incidents attack because their bodies are capable of deriving useful nutrients from inorganic objects? Or, as is considered more likely, did the car's vibrations (or Gummer's movements inside the barrel) mislead the Graboids into thinking they had found living prey?
It is possible that the Graboid's underground life gives it access to elements or chemicals that "supercharge" its digestion and metabolism. Because the surface-dwelling Shrieker and Ass Blaster also show a similar level of digestive/metabolic ability, the discarded body of their parent Graboid might provide them with these required chemicals. It is also possible that this ability is simply inherent in all three species. Regardless, it remains one of the most impressive aspects of their physiology.
Hunting and IntelligenceEdit
Grabboids are shown to be ravenous carnivores, always on the hunt for food. Indiscriminate eaters, their diet includes but is not limited to sheep, cattle, horses, donkeys, coyotes, and even humans. They are known to be cannibalistic when the opportunity presents itself; El Blanco consumed an Ass Blaster in Tremors 3. Lacking eyes or a nose, they're shown to hunt by sensing seismic vibrations, which are produced by sounds and movements. Because they are unable to tell the difference between edible and inedible vibration sources they adopt a policy of "eat first, ask questions later," simply swallowing whatever sets off their vibration sensors and regurgitate anything that does not taste good. Inedible objects can be spat out with amazing force, being propelled high into the air. Due to the sensitive hearing they use for underground navigation, Grabboids are so sensitive to sound they must retreat from loud explosions, which cause them great pain due to sensory overload. For the same reason Graboids are unable to hunt during rain storms. The scientific explanation for this is based on the fact that scientists recently learned that rain is one of the loudest sounds underwater in the ocean.
Graboids are ambush predators, preferring to sneak up on their quarry, though they are shown to chase it down with great determination. They erupt from the ground and use their tentacles to ensnare prey, pulling them into their mouth. The tentacles wrap around the prey, biting into its flesh or hooking the prey with their horn-like spikes. When the prey attempts to flee by climbing, Graboids will simply dig away the earth under the hiding place, undermining it until it collapses or sinks low enough to allow the Grabboid to pluck off the hiding prey. When they are unable to break down the prey's hiding spot, the undaunted Graboids will continue circling it like sharks until it ceases making vibrations. Usually they wait so long the prey dies of dehydration or starvation, i.e. several days.
Little is known about the creatures' nervous systems, but all forms of the Graboid appear to have sophisticated brains, at least as compared with other predatory animals. All Grabboids have exhibited signs of being extremely quick studies. Science cannot yet measure exactly how smart these creatures are, but they might approach the intelligence levels of such mammalian pack predators as wolves and lions. That being said Graboids are highly intelligent, possessing memory and the ability to learn. For instance, in the first Tremors movie the characters successfully killed a Graboid by having it swallow homemade dynamite. The second Grabboid had apparently noticed this trap and simply regurgitated the dynamite. There are plenty of other examples, for instance when the characters escaped on a bulldozer which was too big to be toppled or undermined, the creatures simply dug a trap in its path.
In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, Burt states that the Graboid is native only to the Northern Hemisphere. At the time, he was unaware of the existence of the African species.
The African species presumably has a similar life cycle to the American species, but unlike the American species, which is only seen in the Northern Hemisphere, the African species is found in the Southern Hemisphere, or at least Africa. It is unknown when this species branched off from the American species, but archaeologists find a skeleton of one, indicating that this is not a new evolution. After seeing the skeleton, Burt describes this species as longer and slimmer. While not a biologist he describes this species as more evolved and efficient, better adapted to their environment. The Shrieker stage was never seen, possibly indicating that their life cycle bypasses it all-together.
The African species' tentacles, referred to as "Grabbers", can detach from the host Graboid. They are sentient and can hunt on their own. Separated, they are fast and lethal, able to climb up rocky surfaces. However, this leaves them more vulnerable to being attacked. It is unknown how many Grabbers each African Graboid has as Tremors 5: Bloodlines features only two Graboids with multiple Grabbers appearing throughout the movie.
The African Graboid also exhibits a far more aggressive hunting behavior than American Graboids; besides simply coming up and swallowing their prey from beneath, or using their tentacles to reel them in, these Graboids can launch themselves out of the ground to its target, showing considerably more agility than the North American Graboid. Presumably, this behavior developed in response to the speed and alertness of African animals, many of which can run faster than a Graboid's top tunneling speed, and will flee at the sensation of the ground moving were a Graboid to attempt to tunnel under them. Additionally, paleontologists found evidence that this species is able to tunnel through rock by releasing formic acid from its mouth to soften rock before using its magnesium mandibles to eat through it. This would mean that the established practice of getting up on boulders or other rock formations to escape and stay out of reach would be ineffective against an African Graboid, as it could dissolve the rock until it got to the prey.
Unlike the American species, the primary drive of members of this species is shown to be propagation of the species rather than hunting. To this end, they cooperate with any Ass Blasters to protect their nests. This level of social cooperation is greater than any seen in the American species, and could in fact be described as non-exist ant. Ass-Blasters and Graboids ignored each other outright instead of working together, in one case a Graboid was known to eat an Ass-Blaster.
Hatching and ScienceEdit
Graboids hatch from eggs which can lay dormant for at least 300 years, possibly even longer. Abnormal heating (geothermal or radiation) of the soil around a Graboid egg can accelerate its gestation and cause it to hatch sooner.
Once hatched, Graboid worms grow very swiftly into 30-foot-long, sightless, underground eating machines that hunt via their extra-sensitive hearing. They can zero in unerringly on the slightest movement or vibration. It's also worth noting that many people who have survived encounters with Grabboids have reported that one can smell the stench of a Graboid long before one actually sees its eel-like hunting appendages.
In the Tremors: The Series episode Shriek and Destroy it is stated that scientists believe that the Grabboid species is now in a hatching cycle which is why so many eggs are now hatching and Graboids are popping up. Besides the Graboids seen in Perfection, Mexico and Africa which hatched in clusters, Graboids are generally seen hatching alone.
In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, the African breed of Graboid is shown to be very protective of its eggs and focused on getting them to hatch and propagate the species. To this end, they have been seen to work side-by-side with Ass Blasters. The American breed doesn't show this behavior with their eggs however.
When in an area infested with Graboids, it is important to remain absolutely motionless and silent. If you are in a stopped motor vehicle, do not let the engine idle, and be certain to turn off car stereos and any other sound-producing devices, such as portable CD or tape players with headphones.
"Spirit Demons from dark places, eating the souls of those who live in the light"Tecopa, Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
Based on the quote above it could be summarized that besides Speculations in the Department of the Interior Report.
The Graboids seemed to have surfaced enough times in the past thousand years (possibly during an earlier hatching cycle) for them to pass into the traditions of local native american tribes as Tecopa asserts, he seems to ascribe the Greboids' predations to being these creatures of legend. This could possibly mean that they avoided the valley that became Rejection, and is now Perfection.
During Tremors 5: Bloodlines, a cave is shown with caveman paintings of Graboids, showing that the species had been active in caveman times as well, enough to have paintings made of them. They have also been shown to have been active at presumably some later point in the past but close enough to the present to leave behind a skeleton as one is dug up by archeologists not far from the cave with the paintings. Nandi also states that her ancestors hunted what they called Lightning Birds but were actually Ass Blasters.
For the supposed evolution of the Graboid check out Graboid Evolution.
From where or what the Graboids originate is intentionally kept very vague; the creators of the film were unconcerned with this detail, offering no explanation as to where the Graboids came from in the original film (wanting to avoid the typical clichés of the monster movie genre). The main characters even satirize this convention by attempting to guess where they came from—outer space, nuclear mutations, genetic engineering, and prehistory are all offered up as possible explanations.
The answer was revealed in Tremors 2, when a fossil Graboid spike was discovered and dated back to the Precambrian - the Graboids are apparently from Earth, or have at least existed on Earth for a very long time. Strangely, during Precambrian life on Earth was mostly unicellular and there were no prey large enough for Graboids to eat. A write-up by the Sci-Fi channel for Tremors: The Series rectified this by saying the fossil was incorrectly dated and actually from the Devonian period, though they don't rule out a possible extraterrestrial origin.
Though they resemble worms, in Tremors 3 the United States Department of the Interior calls them "desert reptilians". Later an elaborate write-up on the SciFi channel's Tremors: The Series homepage (written as an in-universe Department of the Interior report) classified them as cephalopods based on their intelligence, beaks and tentacles. This same promotional material gives the Graboids and their later forms their scientific names.
As a result of the name of the series, "Tremors", many fans colloquially (and incorrectly) refer to the Graboid beasts as "tremors". The result of this was that on-screen in Tremors 3, a tourist erroneously refers to one as a "tremor", only to be corrected by the character "Desert Jack" who replies, "They're called Graboids!"
In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, a second breed of Graboid is shown to have evolved at some point. It is unknown when this happened, but it is not a recent occurrence as archeologists discovered a skeleton belonging to this breed in Africa where the breed seems to be localized to. This one has evolved to be more adapted to their environment such as detachable tentacles (called Grabbers) and nocturnal Ass Blasters.
- The albino Graboid, El Blanco.
- And the longest surviving worm in the first movie, who grabbed Val and Earl's truck and lost a tongue trying to keep the truck still but loses a tongue at the end; He also is responsible for killing Chang and testing the Houses, such as the Chang's Store, Stumpy. Killed when Val tricks him into burrowing through a cliff.
- A Graboid in mexico who was smart enough to bite/snag the chain hanging off of the end of Earl and Grady's truck and ended up taking them on a joy ride. This ended when the the chain broke upon a rock right just before the Graboid was set to pull them into a boulder. Later Burt would report the duo that he had killed a Graboid with a chain in it's mouth, Prompting Grady to shout "that one was ours".
- There was a dead mounted/stuffed Graboid in Burt's den. This is the Graboid Heather and he killed when it attacked their basement.
- A Graboid in the desert surrounding the town of Toluca, NM learned to recognize the vibrations from Cecil Carr's IGC dish & figured out that people would regularly come by to maintain it, giving it a steady food supply in A Little Paranoia Among the Friends. Killed by Tyler Reed with Burt's .50 caliber rifle.
- In Tremors 5: Bloodlines a Graboid appeared that was known simply as The Queen Bitch. She acted as the leader of a nest of Graboids and Ass Blasters, but were of a different more evolved breed apparently native to Africa. The Queen Bitch worked to preserve the bloodline of the African Graboids by protecting her nest and the eggs within. After the destruction of the nest and the remaining Graboid and Ass Blasters, the Queen Bitch attacked a nearby village where a single egg remained. The villagers, Burt and Travis Welker lured her into a lightning trap where a grounded lightning strike forced her to the surface where Burt and two local villagers Nyala and Lucia opened fire on her. A second lightning strike went straight down her throat, causing her to explode and killing her.
- Rejection Graboid Incursion of 1889
- Perfection Graboid Incursion of 1989
- Chipas, Mexico Graboid Incursion of 1996
- El Chaco, Argentina Graboid Incursion of 2001
- Perfection Graboid Incursion of 2001
- Juniper, Arizona Graboid Incursion of 2003
- Toluca, New Mexico Graboid Incursion of 2003
- African Graboid Incursion of 2015
- Tremors 2: Aftershocks (Briefly)
- Tremors 3: Back to Perfection
- Tremors 4: The Legend Begins (As "Rejection")
- Tremors: The Series
- Tremors 5: Bloodlines (North American species briefly)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 S. S. Wilson (writer), Brent Maddock (writer), [Ron Underwood]] (director); Tremors DVD. Universal Home Entertaiment.
- ↑ http://www.imdb.com/tt100814/fullcredits
- ↑ Tremors 4 audio commentary, Tremors Attack Pack
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20040623151536/www.scifi.com/tremors/monsters/analysis/07_mythology.html
- ↑ http://www.scifi.com/tremors/monsters/analysis/06_taxonomy.html
- ↑ Monster Legacy, "Subterranean Terror — Part I: Tremors". http://monsterlegacy.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/subterranean-terror-part-i-tremors/
- ↑ Monster Legacy. "Monster Gallery: Tremors (1990)". http://monsterlegacy.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/monster-gallery-tremors-1990/