For longtime Star Wars fans, The Last Jedi has everything — interplanetary drama, a Williamsburg dad-looking Luke Skywalker, and of course, adorable alien animals.
While you won’t find any of these creatures in the wild, Inverse did the hard work of finding their very best Earthly equivalents. With the help of a wildlife biologist, we put together a handy list for educational purposes and OH MY GOD THEY’RE ALL SO CUTE.
Vulptex — Arctic Fox
While Vulptex are found on the salt-covered planet Crait, their Earthly counterparts, are found in the Arctic tundra, from Alaska all the way to Iceland. The Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus) might not be covered in crystals, but it does shine in its own way — these fluffy critters can survive unbelievably frigid temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.
“These predators are generalist species that scavenge a variety of birds and mammals, including lemmings and reindeer,” wildlife biologist Imogene Cancellare tells Inverse. “They are listed as a species of least concern, yet are often hunted for their white to blue-gray coats.”
Sure, Vulptex are cute, but nothing compares to this level of cuddliness.
Fathiers — Horse, Dog, Cat, and Lion
Fathiers are look like what you’d expect if a neural network combined a bunch of cute animals.
“Though they’re enormous, rideable and reminiscent of the tauntauns in The Empire Strikes Back, the fathiers are a “completely new species (that’s a) mixture of a giant horse, dog, cat and lion,” Ben Morris, creative director at Lucasfilm’s visual effects division Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), told USA Today.
Since fathiers are clearly a combination of several animals, we’ll analyze the most obvious: the horse. Unlike fathiers, which live in the ostentatious city of Canto Blight, horses (Equus ferus caballus) reside all over the world.
“The evolution of the horse began around 65 million years ago,” Cancellare says. “What we know as today’s domestic horse evolved around 5 million years ago was domesticated around 3,000 years ago.”
According to National Geographic, there’s only one species of domestic horse, “but around 400 different breeds that specialize in everything from pulling wagons to racing.” Since fathiers are race horses, they could be compared to Thoroughbreds.
The Caretakers on Ahch-To — American Toad
The nun-like caretakers on heavily bearded Luke Skywalker’s island, Ahch-To, are supposed to resemble amphibians. In an interview with Inverse, Neal Scanlan, who designed all the creatures in The Last Jedi, described them as “aquatic creatures with bird-like features.” For the sake of this article, we’ll say they’re most similar to the American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus), since that’s what they look like.
American Toads don’t inhabit an island that also houses sacred Jedi texts. Instead, they hop around in the eastern United States and Canada, feasting on all sorts of insects. They’re mostly nocturnal, so you wouldn’t see them walking about in the daylight like the caretakers.
Porg — Puffin
How porgs made it into The Last Jedi is probably one of the most endearing stories in the franchise’s history. When the crew scouted out Skellig Michael, an island in Ireland that represents Ahch-To in the movie, they were surprised to find that it was full of puffins (Fratercula). Rather than shoo away the tiny birds, the filmmakers gave them a CGI makeover and thus, the porg was born.
It helps that Skellig Michael has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage since 1996, so three cheers for porgs — and conservation!
“The Atlantic puffin spends most of its time at sea, diving to depths up to 200 feet to hunt small fish,” Cancellare tells Inverse. “They are surprisingly fast in the air, reaching speeds up to 55 miles per hour!”
Sure, Star Wars creatures are cute and sure, we all want an entourage of porgs at our side. But maybe an unintentional takeaway of the film is that we can all do a better job of protecting the awesome critters right here on our home planet. (Okay, earnest rant over.)