Alien Profile: The Surds

The following article was written by Eric Southard as an entry to the Alien August competition.

Descriptionsurds 003

The Surds are an intelligent species discovered by humans who had unknowingly colonized the same planet as they. They range in many sizes (with the largest as big as a city bus) and colors such as black, khaki, speckled, and light green.

They have 8, dome shaped, lidless, eyes (2 in front, 2 on each flank, and 2 on the rear) which are capable of perceiving a wider spectrum of colors, 6 legs, a double brained nervous system, and a large, wing-like fan on both of their arms that can change color and texture.

As the Surds are deaf and mute, using their fans to communicate with sign language, the true name of their people is unknown. The name “Surd” is a slang term for “Surdum Videntem” the scientific name given by humans meaning “deaf seer”.


The Surds come from a planet with constant windstorms so severe normal hearing is almost useless. This along with the few predators that possessed some kind of hearing led them to evolve their current sign language, although vestigial inner ears and vocal chords are still present.

The females lay clutches of 5-7 eggs; the first one to hatch is called the “bull” regardless of its gender and is showered with food and affection to encourage growth. Once large enough, the bull will guard its unhatched siblings while the parents hunt/forage for food. Because of this, bulls have historically been given higher social status and privilege although this has changed through social activism. The bulls also have limited use of their vestigial vocal chords which come with calcified growths which they use to make threatening noises not unlike a rattlesnake tail. Upon puberty, the chords atrophy and the growths are coughed out. The purpose of the growths eluded Surd scientists until first human contact.


The Surds developed a caste system based on size and birth order. For example, larger individuals specialized in physical labor and combat, smaller ones performed delicate tasks such as tool making, scholarship and trade, while the mid-size and first born held diplomatic and leadership roles.

Interaction with Humans

Human-Surd relations have been very touch and go. Most Surds view humans with contempt and suspicion mostly from the differences in communication. In Surd culture it’s considered rude, if not a threat, to open your mouth when not eating. This has caused them to derogatorily refer to humans as “chewers” because of the constant use of our mouths. Secondly they don’t understand the concepts of hearing or sound, so seeing a human reacting to an audible stimulus gives them an uncanny view of us. Lastly the only way the two peoples can communicate is with the simple sign language used by surd hatchlings that have yet to fully master their fans, however with its much limited vocabulary, this gives Surds the incorrect impression that humans are less intelligent even if they know better. Worst of all, numerous cases of sabotage and disappearances in both colonies has led to mutual feelings of hate and distrust. If not resolved soon, these sentiments could lead to conflict. This CANNOT be allowed to happen.

This article was written by Nathan Nichols as an entry to the Alien August competition 2015. Visit Eric’s Deviant Art page at

  • Uhm.. okay. Aha..
    I see…or perhaps ..Well I am speechless again but for ..other reasons.
    The Surds are aptly named, I have to say. Switch a letter and imagine the “creature” in earthen tones and…

    But then I think I leave it at that…

    • Paulo R. Mendes


      I think that understood what are you talking about. D:

    • thanks…I think

  • Here, I put a little contrast in that artwork..

  • Kirov

    Well, I think the physiology could use some work, but I did like their interaction with humans and the tension caused by the language barrier. I also really like the idea of the “bull” and how that concept would evolve.

    • Thanks, would you mind telling me what you didn’t like about the physiology so I can tweak it?

      • Kirov

        I suppose just more detail in general. There doesn’t seem like a whole lot for the imagination to go off of. And always consider evolution when adding details. Why have a wing-like structure unless it was used as a wing at some point? And why would the species develop intelligence? They don’t seem to have manipulators, which are an essential step before intelligence.

        • oh right, I forgot to mention they have 3 opposable fingers where the fan meets the fore arm as well as a protective pouch on either side of their bodies to protect their fans when not in use.

  • Leonardo Faria

    So the mid-size ones hold diplomatic and leadership roles with no regard to the wits. Size matters.

    • I never said it was a fair system 😉

  • oooooookaaaaay

    • That’s what I was thinking….I guess you CAN read minds…Wait a minute…that means…gasp…horror… Michael has psionic powers!


      • Paulo R. Mendes

        And only now you have taken notice of that? 😀

    • good okay or bad okay?