Nine earthly versions of Star Wars creatures
Wookiee, Eopie, Gigoran ... these critters have captivated generations. Jana Howden found their counterparts a little closer in space (and time).
Star Wars galaxy: Ewok
Milky Way galaxy: Philippine tarsier, Tarsius syrichta
Looking like an infant Ewok, the Philippine tarsier weighs only around 100 grams – about the same as two eggs. Restricted to the south-east Philippines, these animals are able to turn their head a full 180 degrees in either direction, something no other living mammal can do.
Star Wars galaxy: Eopie
Milky Way galaxy: Dromedary camel, Camelus dromedarius
These camels only have one hump, but it can store up to 36 kilograms of fat. The camels are able to break down this fat into water and energy when making long journeys through the desert. This built-in hydration system means they can travel up to 160 kilometres without having a drink.
When they do finally have a drink, they’re capable of slurping 135 litres in under 15 minutes.
Star Wars galaxy: Wookiee
Milky Way galaxy: Brown bear, Ursus arctos
Brown bears are one of our planets largest living carnivores, weighing up to a massive 350 kilograms. While these bears normally live the solo life, they come together during the salmon summer spawning season to feed. Before hibernation, these bears are capable of eating as much as 40 kilograms of food each day to ensure they last the winter.
Star Wars galaxy: Gigoran
Milky Way galaxy: Hamadryas baboon, Papio hamadryas
Native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, these primates are the northernmost of all baboons. Hamadryas baboons were important players in Ancient Egyptian society; not only were they worshipped in their representation as the Egyptian god of learning, they were used to pick fruit.
Living in complex societal structures, one male reigns over up to 10 females and their offspring. These families come together to make a clan, which can team up with other clans to become a band, which then join together to form a troop.
Star Wars galaxy: Wampa
Milky Way galaxy: Polar bear, Urus maritimus
Polar bears might look adorable, but they’re expert hunters and the biggest species of bear on our planet. They spend around half their time hunting, using their five-centimetre claws to pin down their prey. As for that pom-pom tail, it’s designed to conserve heat.
Because these bears depend on sea ice for survival – relying on it to feed and breed – reductions in arctic ice due to global warming are projected to place polar bears firmly on the path of extinction by 2100.
Star Wars galaxy: Bantha
Milky Way galaxy: Bison, bison bison
Bison once roamed the plains of North American by the millions, but unregulated shooting and habitat destruction following European settlement in the region saw numbers drop to just over 1,000 by 1889. Thankfully, half a million bison live in the US today, but most of these have been cross-bred with cattle in the past to ensure their survival. Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the US these bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.
Milky Way galaxy: Red kangaroo, Macropus rufus
Red kangaroos move through central Australia in groups – known as mobs – of up to several hundred individuals. Female kangaroos only have one baby at a time, which is normally born around the size of a jellybean. The tiny tot clambers its way into its mother’s specially designed pouch which it calls home for eight months or so.
Star Wars galaxy: Happabore
Milky Way galaxy: Southern hairy-nosed wombat, Lasiorhinus latifrons
Representing one of the three species of wombat, the southern hairy-nosed wombat is native to regions of Southern Australia. Despite their stocky appearance, these furry marsupials can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour. Their cousins – the northern hairy-nosed wombat – are one of the rarest land mammals in the world, with only around 60 thought to be left in the wild.
Star Wars galaxy: Gungan
Milky Way galaxy: Antelope Jackrabbit, Lepus alleni
Found mostly in Mexico, antelope jackrabbits are one of the largest hare species in North America. Their huge eyes sit towards the back of their head, allowing them to see almost all the way around in order to watch for predators.
Male jackrabbits are known for their boxing abilities; standing on their hind legs, they use their forelimbs to throw punches at their opponent, hitting them repeatedly and rapidly for a few seconds.