|SPOILER WARNING: This section may contain major plot and/or ending details. Proceed at your own discretion.|
Skullcrawlers, also known as Cranium Reptant, are giant reptilian daikaiju created by Legendary Pictures that first appeared in the 2017 film, Kong: Skull Island, as the primary antagonists.
Skullcrawlers got their name from their skull-like heads and their crawling locomotions. Their true name is known as « Halakrah », or « Persistent Enemy », but unspoken by the Iwi, and the name « Skullcrawler » was invented by Hank Marlow as he explained their history to Mason Weaver and James Conrad. While initially lacking an official Titanus designation, by the time of Godzilla vs. Kong, the Skullcrawlers have been designated as Titanus Cranium Reptant, which is inaccurate given the opening had many inconsistencies due to production delays. While in the latter the name of a Adult Skullcrawler, one of them is nicknamed as Number 10 by Walter Simmons.
Skullcrawlers are large reptilian creatures with only two long forelimbs and no hindlimbs, as well as long, prehensile, serpentine tails. They have long and slender, yet muscular, sturdy bodies. Several aspects of their appearance are noticeably skeletal, particularly their torsos and their heads. What appears to be the « eye sockets » of their skull-like heads are merely empty fenestrae presumably evolved that way to protect its eyes from enemies: their real eyes are set much further back, with the fenestrae perhaps serving to distract enemies from their more vulnerable eyes and acting as heat-seeking sensory pits. The pupils of their green eyes are horizontal and somewhat resemble those of frogs and toads. The colors of their scales range from dark brown to dark green to a bone-white color.
Their heads closely resemble those of mosasaurs such as Tylosaurus, and their jaws possess two rows of serrated, razor-sharp teeth. The Skullcrawlers have four clawed digits in a total of each hand, with the thumb being the smallest digit and the rest of the digits being larger and of the same size, and the adults have a prominent bony spike protrudes out of each of their elbows. The thorny, toothlike structures of their inner mouths somewhat resemble that of a leatherback turtle’s. Additionally, they have long, prehensile triple-forked tongues that they can use to grab their prey.
The eggs of Skullcrawlers are near perfect spheres, with a height of approximately 4-6 feet. The shell of these eggs are transparent, revealing the infant Skullcrawler within, much like an amphibian or fish egg would. These eggs are laid in massive quantities, as implied by the several transport shuttles containing them in Godzilla vs. Kong. It is as of yet unknown whether Skullcrawlers are protective of their spawn, but knowing their behavior, mothers most likely abandon them shortly after laying, perhaps even eating them if hungry enough.
Juvenile Skullcrawlers are easily distinguishable from adults. Their heads are smaller and more sloped. They also possess a more prominently brown skin tone. Adult Skullcrawlers are much larger, with most being almost the same size as Kong. Their heads are more defined, larger, and somewhat angled. Their tails are armed with a form of a club that can be used as a weapon, and they also have distinct bone-like spikes protruding from their elbows. The adult Skullcrawler seen in Godzilla vs. Kong had a unique patch of red coloration running down the length of its back, a sickly green tint to its skull, and appeared to be significantly larger than any Skullcrawler previously encountered.
The Skullcrawlers were designed to act as the « fallen angels » of Kong’s kingdom and represent the darker, bleaker aspects of Skull Island.
All of the Skullcrawlers are portrayed by CGI.
The roar of the Skullcrawler is very high in tone, possessing a raspy quality with a hiss and growl mixed in between. According to supervisor sound designer/editor Al Nelson, the Skullcrawler roar was inspired by the pained squeal of a dying rabbit as well as the sounds of sea lions and squirrels. Some of its sounds were recycled from the Indominus rex from the 2015 film, Jurassic World.
Skullcrawlers are subterranean pack-hunting predators with insatiable appetites that are the results of their heightened metabolisms. Because of this, it is suggested that male and female Skullcrawlers will almost always devour each other after mating. They are highly aggressive, as well as incredibly persistent in pursuing their prey. They do, however, show a high degree of intelligence (as Hank Marlow calls them « crafty bastards »), shown when the largest of the Skullcrawlers refused to devour a grenade-armed Earl Cole and simply swats him away. Juvenile Skullcrawlers appear to be naturally fearless, as two of them teamed up to attack Kong despite being smaller and out-muscled.
Skull Devil appeared to be more intelligent than the rest of his kind. This was seen when he appeared only once Kong was subdued by Preston Packard and when he felt like Earl Cole was tricking it. He also seems to have a hint of sadism as he licks Kong’s face maliciously after the giant ape got tangled up in a shipwreck’s rudder chain during their battle. This large Skullcrawler was also shown to have a deep desire of killing and eating humans, which was shown several times when he diverted his attention from Kong to James Conrad and Mason Weaver, implying that he had a sense of malice and cruelty. This could also hint that the entire Skullcrawler species is innately malevolent, as Hank Marlow calls them « nasty » and « mean as hell ».
|“||Little is known about the origins of this voracious predator, although its evolutionary purpose is abundantly clear. The Skullcrawler exists to devour, destroy, and dominate. Subterranean in nature, burrowing up through the geologically unstable steam vents across Skull Island, it is as though the Skullcrawler climbed up out of Hell itself.
This terrifying serpentine is a hypervore: a creature with such a hyper-adrenalized metabolism that it exists in a constant state of starvation. Just as a shark must keep swimming to survive, the Skullcrawler must keep feeding, dislocating its own jawbone so to maximize its ability to swallow anything that crosses its path. And within that gaping maw exists a long, whiplash tongue, which the creature uses to ensnare and constrict its prey. Its olfactory system can sense hot-blooded life across huge distances. Once it has picked up your scent, the blood in your veins is like blood in the water.
Perhaps most striking is the beast’s fearful visage. A chilling, lidless skull-face peer out through translucent flesh, as two dark and lifeless eye sockets regard their prey with cold, unflinching malice. The patterning of its facial features may be indicative of deimatic behavior designed to threaten and terrify its prey.
We have observed different Skullcrawlers in a wide variety of different sizes. Given the unreachable depths of their subterranean nesting grounds, we have no way of knowing how big these things get, or the pecking order that governs their tribal feeding patterns.
The more we learn about the cultural history of Skull Island from the indigenous petroglyphs we have discovered, the clearer it becomes that the evolution of the Skullcrawlers has long been interwoven with Kong and his fallen ancestors.
If Kong is the god of Skull Island, then here comes the devil.
— Monarch Creature Profile
The Skullcrawlers are a species of super-predators that invaded Skull Island, evolving the role of apex predators in direct competition with the giant ape-like species also inhabiting it. In Godzilla vs. Kong – The Official Movie Novelization, it is explained that Skullcrawlers evolved from a lineage of non-amniote basal reptilomorphs . It is possible the species originates from the Hollow Earth.
Kong: Skull Island
A Skullcrawler was first seen feasting on a dead Sker Buffalo by Kong. Kong was about to confront the creature when he was ambushed by a second one from behind. After a quick battle, Kong ends up subduing and killing both Skullcrawlers by stuffing one’s head into the ground, breaking its neck, and smashing the other’s skull with a devastating stomp.
Another Skullcrawler ambushed Jack Chapman and a Spore Mantis, but went for Chapman and ate him alive while the Spore Mantis managed to escape. The same Skullcrawler then showed up in the boneyard and vomited Chapman’s remains. When William Randa attempted to make his camera work, he was devoured by the Skullcrawler, who then tried to attack the group. Randa’s camera started to flash inside the predator, which started to aggravate the monster.
The Skullcrawler then started chasing Mason Weaver but the group retaliated using flamethrowers. The creature batted a crew member with its tail onto one of the Kong skulls, causing his backpack to detonate several canisters of toxic gas. The Skullcrawler started to grow more relentless and disturbed a flock of resting Leafwings, which then turned their attention to attacking the group. James Conrad managed to kill some of the flying creatures using Hank Marlow’s katana. The Skullcrawler then set its eyes on Conrad and Reg Slivko, but Weaver rescued them by tossing Conrad’s lighter at one of the subterranean vents, creating an explosion that killed the Skullcrawler on the spot.
The largest of all the Skullcrawlers was awakened due to seismic explosives dropped onto Skull Island along with the rest of his kind, and after Kong was incapacitated by Packard, he let his presence be known by emerging out from the water. Then he attacked the weakened Kong, quickly rendering the ape unconscious before turning his attention to the humans. As he chased Conrad and the other survivors of the research expedition sent to Skull Island, Earl Cole tried to sacrifice himself along with the beast by arming several grenades before having the massive creature try to eat him. However, the monster didn’t take the bait and batted him against a mountainside as the grenades went off, killing him.
As the large Skullcrawler finally reached the rest of the crew in a marsh, Kong appeared in time to stun the giant reptile with a large boulder, allowing the crew to run to safety. The Skullcrawler then returned his focus to Kong, pouncing on him and biting his throat. Kong and the Skullcrawler continued to brutally wrestle, pummel, and bite each other until the Skullcrawler threw Kong into a shipwreck with his tail, where the ape became entangled in the chains. With Kong subdued in the wreck, the Skullcrawler was about to kill him when he’s fired upon by Houston Brooks and the other humans. He then returned his focus to the humans and approached them, giving Kong the chance to free himself from the chains.
As he approached the crew once more, the monster’s right eye was destroyed by a flare fired by Weaver, and Conrad lured him away from the crew on their boat. This allowed Kong to use and swing the propeller of a wrecked ship at his adversary like a medieval flail, which caught the beast in the shoulder and allowed Kong to pull the Skullcrawler back toward him and resume their fight. Kong continued to wrestle the creature and threw him into the side of a cliff, causing Weaver to fall into the water below.
As the Skullcrawler continued to attack Kong, the ape uppercut him with the ship’s propeller, slicing the monster’s throat wide open and seemingly killing him. As Kong saved Weaver from drowning, the Skullcrawler pounced at Kong once more. After coiling his tail around Kong, he wrapped his tongue around the ape’s arm, pulling it down his gullet in an attempt to devour Weaver as she’s clutched in Kong’s hand. After a brief struggle, Kong tore out the creature’s internal organs through his mouth, killing him instantly and avenging the deaths of Kong’s parents and his race.
Skull Island: The Birth of Kong
The Skullcrawlers’ history on Skull Island is revealed in Riccio’s visions. Riccio says that the Skullcrawlers attempted to invade Skull Island and waged war against Kong’s ancestors. When the Iwis first arrived on Skull Island, the Skullcrawlers had wiped out all but the two strongest apes, which turned out to be Kong’s parents.
After the 1973, Monarch expedition, Skullcrawlers still inhabit Skull Island, but their population is controlled by Kong, and none of them have grown to the size of the Skull Devil. In another vision, Riccio explained that the Skullcrawlers continued their fight against Kong’s parents.
One day, a pack of Skullcrawlers attempted to kill Kong’s Mother while she was in labor, but Kong’s Father kept them at bay. After Kong was born, his mother hid him in a cave and sealed it with rocks before she rushed to aid her mate. Kong then watched as the Skullcrawlers slaughtered his parents.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
In the novelization of the film, a horde of Skullcrawlers attempt to leave Skull Island upon hearing Ghidorah’s call, but they are stopped by Kong before they can do so.
The carcass of the Skull Devil remains on Skull Island.
Godzilla vs. Kong
A large adult Skullcrawler, codenamed Number 10, was held captive by Apex Cybernetics to be used as a test subject for Mechagodzilla to kill, as well as numerous Skullcrawler eggs that were being transported from Pensacola, Florida, to Hong Kong. The creature breaks free from its containment cell and begins chasing after Madison Russell after she, Josh Valentine, and Bernie Hayes had wandered into the facility, but is swiftly grabbed and restrained by Mechagodzilla. The Skullcrawler snaps and struggles wildly in the mecha’s grasp before being sliced in half by the machine’s proton scream. The Skullcrawler eggs were presumed to be destroyed during Mechagodzilla’s escape from the Apex facility.
Being subterranean, Skullcrawlers are capable of using their limbs to burrow deep into the earth.
Durability and stamina
Skullcrawlers are very durable, as they can withstand bullets from rifles and the searing heat of a flamethrower. The largest of the Skullcrawlers was only dazed when Kong slammed his head with a boulder or smashed his face with a tree branch, while the Skullcrawler that ate Chapman and Randa could withstand fire from an M2HB heavy machine gun, which was chambered in .50 BMG. The Skull Devil could withstand continuous sprays of fire from a pair of M3 Brownings(Also chambered in .50 BMG). They have incredible stamina, being able to stay in a full-fledged fight for several minutes even whilst being incredibly injured.
Skullcrawlers are both solitary and pack hunters. Juveniles can hunt for themselves and can take down creatures like the Sker Buffalo on their own, and they can cooperate to take down more powerful creatures such as Kong.
Skullcrawlers are very intelligent, as shown when the younger Skullcrawlers tried ambushing Kong, and when the Skull Devil realized Cole was trying to trick him into eating him and instead of batted him away with his tail.
Much like snakes, the Skullcrawlers’ olfactory system allows them to sense hot-blooded lifeforms from miles away.
Prehensile tail and tongue
Skullcrawlers have prehensile tongues that they use to grab and quickly devour small prey, or for gripping large prey in combat.
The tail of the Skullcrawler is heavily muscled and extremely powerful, which is evidenced when the largest Skullcrawler lifted and flung Kong across the marsh with his tail. As stated before, the tail is also for wrapping around large prey, possibly to latch onto them for balance or to constrict them.
Speed and agility
Skullcrawlers can run very quickly despite having only two legs, and their speed matches or surpasses that of an adult human. They can also make quick turns as well.
Strength and combat
As the apex predators of Skull Island, Skullcrawlers are fearsome and deadly in battle, using their jaws full of razor-sharp teeth as their primary weapons. They can hold their own against opponents like Kong, able to withstand the blows and pummeling of the ape. Their serpent-like tails are used for swatting, wrapping around, or throwing an opponent during combat. Skullcrawlers can also use their clawed feet as formidable weapons as well.
Skullcrawlers possess accelerated metabolism, which causes them to live in constant starvation. This is shown when the largest Skullcrawler ravenously tried to eat Weaver and refused to let go of Kong’s arm. Kong then turned his insatiable appetite against him, tearing out his tongue and other attached organs.
A Skullcrawler’s arms were unable to straighten out, so when Mechagodzilla grabbed Number 10 and held him by the arms, the mecha dislocated both of Number 10’s elbows and shoulders.
Having only two limbs to walk on, their stance is rather unstable and can easily be toppled.
In Godzilla vs. Kong, an adult Skullcrawler is sliced completely apart by Mechagodzilla’s energy beam.
It is shown that Kong can easily eviscerate Skullcrawlers by yanking out their tongues, which are connected to their internal organs.
The eyes of a Skullcrawler are one of its only weak points, as seen when Weaver destroys one of the larger Skullcrawler’s eyes with a flare gun. The large eye-like sockets on the front of their faces likely serve as distractions from their real eyes which are set further back. They may also serve a function as heat-seeking pits.
- The Skullcrawlers’ stomachs don’t appear to be able to digest bone, as one of them is seen vomiting bones, including a human skull, in the boneyard. This is similar to some species of snakes that eat eggs.
- The Skullcrawlers’ design has been influenced by the Two-Legged Lizard from the original 1933 King Kong film, along with Sachiel from Evangelion, No-Face from Spirited Away, and Cubone from Pokemon.
- The Skullcrawlers combine features of snakes, lizards, and mosasaurs, all of which are members of the reptile order Squamata (the Skullcrawlers may be ancient, highly-specialized members of this taxon).
- Skullcrawlers share some resemblances with the nāga of Southern and Southeastern Asian mythologies, for they are both creatures that live underground with serpentine bodies and possess only one pair of limbs.
- According to Hank Marlow, they are the « Devils » of Skull Island and are feared by the natives to the point where they won’t mention their true name, this makes « Skullcrawler » an alias or a nickname, as Marlow admitted he just « made up the name » cause it sounded neat.
- In the novelization, it is stated that the Skullcrawlers are amphibious, as Weaver mentioned the one in the boneyard had gills, and would thus pose a threat to the world if they ever left Skull Island.
- This is similar to the MonsterVerse Godzilla, who is also a reptile but strangely possesses gills.
- The fact that the Skullcrawlers’ eyesockets can be mistaken for their real eyes has a similar fact for orcas, as their white markings make people believe that those are their real eyes.
- The novelization states that Skullcrawlers can mimic human cries and that this was the cause of Gunpei Ikari’s death, as he and Marlow mistook one for an Iwi child crying. The book also suggests that the largest Skullcrawler appeared when it did because it somehow sensed that Kong was down.
- The large Skullcrawler also has the name Ramarak, but it has not been used in the films or the books.
- Legendary copyrighted the name « Ramarak the Skullcrawler » and other variations of this name, which could possibly be a rejected name for the Skull Devil, in December 2015. Ramarak has caught on as a popular name for the Skull Devil among fans, though it has yet to appear in any official media.
- The Skullcrawlers and their alpha may be a reference to Gaw and the Deathrunners from Kong: King of Skull Island, the illustrated prequel/sequel novel to the original 1933 movie as the creatures responsible for deaths of Kong’s parents and the near extinction of his species.
- Ramarak simply being dubbed » the big one » is a reference to the film jurassic park. In which game warden robert muldoon gave the leader of the velociraptors the same title.
- In the English subtitles featured on HBO Max during Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) debut, the Skullcrawlers are referred to as « Skull-crawlers ».
List of appearances
This is a list of references for Skullcrawler. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: