Alien Species


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Arrival 2016 heptapod and doctor
General Information
Skin Colors Grey
Locomotion Walking, Fluid-Jet Propulsion
Sapience Level Sapient
Behavior Mild, Mediatory, Interactive
Language Heptapod A, Heptapod B
Status Extant
Behind the Scenes
Universe Story of Your Life


Created by Ted Chiang

Heptapods are an intelligent, space-faring extraterrestrial species in Story of Your Life[1] and the 2016 film Arrival.[2] In both works, their first contact with humans and Dr. Louise Bank's struggle to communicate with them serve as the plot and are used to explore themes about determinism, language and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis.

Biology Edit

As the name suggests, a Heptapod has seven limbs, whose arrangement makes the creature heptaradially-symmetrical.

Society Edit

Communication and language Edit

Heptapods use vocal communication that is unpronounceable by humans (classified as Heptapod A), and a written script (Heptapod B), which by its modularity can be dissected and interpreted. The vocal and writing components are unrelated, in the sense that Heptapod B does not represent sound. Heptapod B is written with an ink-like substance, and it can induce a non-linear perception of time unto those who intimately learn and understand the language.

Technology Edit

Heptapods are more capable than humans when it comes to spaceflight. When they first contact with humanity, they use radio to transmit their vocal recordings.

Ships Edit

Heptapod ships (referred to as "Shells") are 450-meter-tall vehicles composed of a black, stone-like material of unknown composition, and are oval and somewhat flat in shape. They completely lack any surface features; there are no visible thrusters, nor are any emissions whatsoever detectable from these Shells.


References Edit

  1. Story of Your Life. Wikipedia. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  2. Here are the Seven-Tentacled Space Aliens in 'Arrival'. Inverse. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016.

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