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Races and species in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This is a list of races, fauna, and flora (as well as creatures without category) featured in various incarnations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Races

Aldebarans

Amoeboid Zingatularians

The Amoeboid Zingatularians appear in a continuity announcement joke at the end of the third radio episode of the original radio series.

Bartledanians

Inhabitants of the planet Bartledan. The people of Bartledan are similar to humans, but do not breathe. Due to their view on the Universe - that the Universe is what the Universe is, take it or leave it - they have no desires, dreams or hopes. Bartledanian literature is renowned, and its books are notable for being exactly one hundred thousand words long. Netball is a popular sport among the people of Bartledan despite the fact that no one cares about winning.

Belcerebons

The Belcerebons of Kakrafoon Kappa had an unhappy time. Once a serene and quiet civilization, a Galactic Tribunal sentenced them to telepathy because the rest of the galaxy found peaceful contemplation contemptuous. Ford Prefect compared them to Humans because the only way Belcerebons could stop transmitting their every thought was to mask their brain activity (or its readability) by talking endlessly about utter trivia. The other approach to dampening telepathic communication was to host concerts of the plutonium rock band Disaster Area. Thankfully, during the concert, an improbability field flipped over the Rudlit Desert, transforming it into a paradise, and cured the Belcerebons of telepathy. A Disaster Area spokesman said that this was "a good gig".

Betelgeusians

In the Hitchhiker universe, the red giant Betelgeuse has supported two habitable planets that we know of. Betelgeuse 5, home of Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Betelgeuse 7, home of Ford Prefect. Zaphod and Ford went to school together. Ford and his father are actually the last surviving members of their species, and the last speakers of their language, as his father escaped his world after the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster. However, Ford's father was never adequately able to explain what a hrung was, or why it would collapse on Betelgeuse 7, and so was always under suspicion by his new neighbors on Betelgeuse 5. Ford Prefect's father died from shame (which, according to the author, is still a terminal disease in many parts of the galaxy) because Ford never learned how to say his name in the ancient tongue of Praxibetel, which died out in the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster (apart from Ford and his father). On Betelgeuse 5, Ford had a new nickname: Ix. This means "boy who is not satisfactorily able to explain what a Hrung is, nor why should it choose to collapse on Betelgeuse seven."

Blagulon Kappans

Blagulon Kappans are methane-breathing life forms from Blagulon Kappa, which only appear in the books as the sophisticated police that attack Zaphod Beeblebrox. They die because Marvin the Paranoid Android causes their ship to commit suicide by sharing his overly pessimistic view of the Universe with it. This in turn renders their space suits, which are remote controlled by the ship, unusable. This proves fatal because they cannot breathe in the thin oxygen atmosphere of Magrathea. However, in the TV series the police are simply humanoids and able to breathe the air.

Dentrassis

Dentrassis are the cooks for the Vogons, the Galactic bureaucrats who demolish the Earth in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Described by the character Ford Prefect as "The best cooks and the best drinks mixers, and they don't give a wet slap about anything else." In most versions of the story, they help galactic hitchhikers board Vogon Constructor Ships "mostly because it annoys the Vogons."

Dolphins

Dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on Earth, just above humans, and tried in vain to warn humans of the impending destruction of the planet. However, their behavior was misinterpreted as playful attempts to whistle for fish and jump through hoops. Their story is told in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

G'Gugvuntts and Vl'hurgs

Two species which existed in the distant past, a very great distance from the milky way galaxy. The G'Gugvuntt were enemies of the Vl'hurgs; at a conference between the leaders of the two sides the G'Gugvuntt leader insulted the Vl'hurg leader's mother. At the precise moment that the Vl'hurg leader challenged the G'Gugvuntt to retract the insult a chance remark uttered by Arthur Dent was carried across time and space to the table by a freak wormhole. The phrase ("I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle") is a horrendous insult in the Vl'hurg language, and terrible wars ensued. (In the film, the phrase is stated as: "Yes, I wouldn't want to go anywhere without my wonderful towel." In the computer game, any remark that the text parser does not understand has a chance of triggering a story arc involving the player's poorly chosen words travelling to the negotiation table and becoming the aforementioned insult.)

After millennia of battle the surviving G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg realised what had actually happened, and joined forces to attack the Milky Way in retaliation. They crossed vast reaches of space in a journey lasting thousands of years before reaching their target where they attacked the first planet they encountered, Earth. Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog.

Golgafrinchans

The Golgafrinchans are a race from the planet Golgafrincham that appears in the original radio series, the television series and the book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. In their ancient history, they tricked the most useless third (the middlemen) of their population to get on a spaceship and leave the planet, by spreading rumours of the horrific fates their planet was doomed to soon undergo, such as being eaten by a mutant star goat, or collapsing into the sun. The plan was to get them to crash on a "harmless" planet, thus losing any capacity for space travel; they would then be out of everyone's hair.

Soon after they managed to get rid of these people - including all the telephone sanitizers - the entire remaining population was wiped out by a plague contracted from a dirty telephone.

The survivors who left on the spaceship eventually did crash onto Earth, as planned. They managed to wipe out the primitive, but wise, population of original inhabitants, thus corrupting Deep Thought's 10-million-year plan to discover the Ultimate Question to the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. They are presumed to be the ancestors of modern humans.

Ancient Golgafrinchan culture included a sect known as 'the great circling poets of Arium', who would abuse travellers, circle them and throw rocks at them. Afterwards, they would recite an epic poem which usually involved the rescue of a beautiful monster from a ravening Princess by five sage Princes on four horses.

See also: Listings for specific Golgafrinchan characters

Grebulons

The Grebulons are a race that appears in Mostly Harmless. They are observing the Earth, but do not know why.

During the centuries-long spaceflight the Grebulons were all in suspended animation with their memories saved to the ship's computer ... which was struck by an asteroid influenced by Guide Mark II. With the loss of the backup, after the robots carrying it also fell out of the hole, the Grebulons awoke with no idea where they were going or who they were.

What little instructions they can extract from the wrecked computer they interpret mostly by observing the television transmissions from Earth.

Haggunenons

The Haggunenons of Vicissitus Three were encountered in the sixth episode of the original radio series when Ford and Zaphod attempted to steal an Admiral's flagship from the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. According to the Guide, the Haggunenons "have the most impatient chromosomes in the Galaxy. Whereas most species are content to evolve slowly and carefully over thousands of generations, discarding a prehensile toe here, [...] hazarding another nostril there, the Haggunenons would have done for Charles Darwin what a squadron of Arcturan Stunt Apples would have done for Sir Isaac Newton. Their genetic structure is based on the quadruple sterated octohelix...."

The Haggunenon Admiral turned out to have been sleeping on his flagship while Ford, Arthur, Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin returned it to its proper time and place at the vanguard of an invasion fleet. It then evolved into a copy of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, from which Ford and Arthur were able to escape, but which ate Marvin, Trillian and Zaphod. Those three later made their escape when the admiral evolved into an escape capsule.

This monster also appears in the "Dungeons and Dragons Epic Level Handbook" as the Hagunemnon. Like their Hitch-hiker's counterparts, they too are unstable shapeshifters with a deep loathing for non-shapeshifting lifeforms.

See also: Haggunenon Underfleet Commander

Hrarf-Hrarf

Hrarf-Hrarf are a race of beings whose lifespans flow backwards in linear time. Their lives begin at death, and end "in a really quite extraordinarily pleasant birth." They are also described as the "only race known actually to enjoy hangovers, because they know it guarantees that a tremendously good evening will ensue."

The race is mentioned only in The Tertiary Phase of the Hitchhiker's Guide radio series, written specially for that series by Douglas Adams in the mid-1990s.

Hooloovoo

A Hooloovoo is a superintelligent shade of the colour blue.

Little is known of them, except that one participated in the construction of the starship Heart of Gold. At the launching ceremony one was temporarily refracted into a free-standing prism. This is probably analogous to the ceremonial multicoloured lab coats worn by the rest of the team.

Humans

Humans are bipedal creatures from Earth, and the third most intelligent species on that planet. (Surpassed only by mice and dolphins.) Originally thought to have evolved from proto-apes, humans may in fact be descendants of Golgafrinchans - telephone sanitizers, account executives, and marketing analysts who arrived on the planet ca. two million BC. These Golgafrinchans apparently displaced the indigenous cavemen as the organic components in the computer designed by Deep Thought.

Interestingly, although the term "humanoid" is applied to many races throughout the galaxy, "humanity" refers specifically to the qualities of humans.

The Hitchhiker's Guide denotes them as "Mostly Harmless".

Jatravartids

Jatravartids are small blue creatures of the planet Viltvodle VI with more than fifty arms each. They are therefore unique in being the only race in history to have invented aerosol deodorant before the wheel.

Many races believe that the Universe was created by some sort of god or in the Big Bang. The Jatravartid people, however, believe that the Universe was sneezed out of the nose of a being called the Great Green Arkleseizure. They live in perpetual fear of the time they call "The Coming of the Great White Handkerchief". The theory of the Great Green Arkleseizure is not widely accepted outside Viltvodle VI.

(A similar concept was used in the short story "God's Nose" by Damon Knight.)

For the feature film Douglas Adams created a new character called Humma Kavula, a missionary whose apparent mission is to spread the religion of the Jatravartids. The Jatravartids are only seen on screen during two brief (and poorly lit) shots, though their discarded aerosol cans are found all over their planet's surface. "Caveman"-style illustrations of the Jatravartids feature in one episode of the Hitchhiker's Guide TV series.

Krikkiters

This race of quiet, polite, charming and rather whimsical humanoids caused the most devastating war in the history of the Galaxy (with over two "grillion" casualties). Their homeworld, Krikkit, is surrounded by a black cloud, so they had no knowledge of the universe outside their world. When a spaceship crashed on the surface of Krikkit, the inhabitants quickly stripped it of its secrets and used them to create their own "flimsy piece of near-junk" craft, Krikkit One. Upon reaching the outer edge of the dust cloud and seeing the galaxy for the first time, the people of Krikkit marvelled at its beauty before casually deciding to destroy it, famously remarking "It'll have to go." The Earth game of cricket is a racial memory of the events of the Krikkit Wars. The story of these events is told in Life, the Universe and Everything.

Lamuellans

Lamuellans are a humanoid race from the planet Lamuella. It is on this planet that a passenger starship crashes, and Arthur Dent is the only survivor. There he becomes the planet's Sandwich Maker. The Lamuellans are led, more or less, by Old Thrashbarg, the tribe's priest to Almighty Bob. Other residents of the village include Kirp, a fisher, Grarp the Baker, Strinder the Tool Maker, and Drimple the Sandwich Maker's apprentice. The planet is also home to Perfectly Normal Beasts and Pikka Birds. The complete story is found in the novel Mostly Harmless.

Mattresses

In Life, the Universe and Everything, mattresses are "... large, friendly, pocket-sprung creatures which live quiet private lives in the marshes of Squornshellous Zeta. Many of them get caught, slaughtered, dried out, shipped out, and slept on. None of them seem to mind and all of them are called Zem." They use occasional words from their own language, including the possibly melancholy dejection, "Voon." They also have very short memories.

Mice

Mice are the physical protrusions into our dimension of a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned the construction of the Earth in order to find the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. As such, they are the most intelligent life form on that planet.

In their home dimension, a popular sport is Brockian Ultra-Cricket, a horribly violent game which involves hitting people and running away, before apologising from some distance - often through a megaphone. However, it is completely unrelated except in name to the earth sport of cricket.

Oglaroonians

Natives to the small forest world of Oglaroon, Oglaroonians have taken what is a fairly universal trait among sentient species (to cope with the sheer infinite vastness of the universe by simply ignoring it) to its ultimate extreme. Despite the entire planet being habitable, Oglaroonians have managed to confine their global population to one small nut tree, in which they compose poetry, create art, and somehow fight wars. The consensus among those in power that any trees one might observe from the outer branches are merely hallucinations brought on by eating too many oglanuts, and anyone who thinks differently is hurled out of the tree, presumably to his death.

Poghrils

An exceptionally pessimistic race from the star system of Pansel. Due to the Heart of Gold's Infinite Improbability Drive causing a wave of improbability when passing through the system, two-hundred and thirty-nine thousand lightly fried eggs landed on the surface of their home planet, unfortunately too late to save the vast majority, who had already succumbed to famine, though one did manage to survive for two further weeks, before dying of cholesterol poisoning.

Shaltanacs

The Shaltanacs are a race from the planet Broop Kidron Thirteen, who had their own version of the Earth phrase, "The other man's grass is always greener." Although, given their planet's horticultural peculiarities, theirs was, "The other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauve-y shade of pinky russet," and so, the expression fell into disuse, and the Shaltanacs found they had little choice but to become exceptionally happy and content, which surprised everyone else in the galaxy, who had never realised that the best way not to be unhappy is not to have a word for it.

Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax

The Silastic Armourfiends were an insanely aggressive race who lived on the planet Striterax approximately twenty billion years ago "when the universe was young". They were extremely keen on fighting – one of the best ways to deal with a Silastic Armourfiend was to lock him in a room by himself, since he would beat himself up sooner or later. They wrecked the surface of their planet in constant wars, and the whole population lived within bunkers deep below the surface.

In an attempt to deal with the problems their violent nature created, the Silastic Armourfiends passed a law that anybody who had to carry a weapon as part of their normal work (including policemen, security guards and primary school teachers) must spend a minimum of 45 minutes each day punching a sack of potatoes. It was hoped that this would allow them to work off their surplus aggression. This plan worked only until someone had the idea to simply shoot the potatoes, and the Silastic Armourfiends were excited about their "first war for weeks."

During one of their more unpleasant wars, the Silastic Armourfiends asked the great computer Hactar to design the ultimate weapon for them. The computer complied, creating a hand-held bomb which would connect the core of every major sun via hyperspace, destroying the entire universe. The Silastic Armorfiends attempted to use the bomb to blow up a munitions dump, but fortunately Hactar had built a dud weapon since it could not conceive of any occasion when the use of the real thing would be justified. The Silastic Armourfiends disagreed, and pulverised Hactar.

Eventually, after smashing the hell out of the Strenuous Garfighters of Stug and the Strangulous Stilletans of Jajazikstack, the Silastic Armourfiends found an entirely new way of blowing themselves up, which was of great relief to the Garfighters, the Stilletans, and the potatoes.

Strangulous Stilettans of Jajazikstak

An enemy of the Silastic Armourfiends of Stiterax.

Strenuous Garfighters of Stug

An enemy of the Silastic Armourfiends of Stiterax.

Vogons

Fauna

Algolian Suntiger

The tooth of an Algolian Suntiger is part of the mix for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It "spreads the fires of the Algolian suns deep into the heart of the drink."

Arcturian Megadonkey

An animal featured in the proverb "to talk all four legs off an Arcturian Megadonkey", and also served grated at a dinner on the planet Magrathea.

Babel fish

A Babel fish is a highly improbable biological universal translator. It appears as a "small, yellow and leechlike" fish. When a Babel fish is inserted into the ear canal it allows the wearer to "instantly understand anything said... in any form of language."

Boghog

The Boghog is the only native animal of planet NowWhat, "all other having long ago died of despair"
Boghogs are tiny, vicious creatures with unaccountably thin and leaky skins. Boghog meat is almost completely inedible and is the primary source of food for the settlers on NowWhat.
The language of the boghogs consists of biting each other very hard on the thigh and thus was never learned by anybody else.
NowWhatian Boghog skin is the only export of NowWhat.

Damogran Frond Crested Eagle

A Damogran Frond Crested Eagle inhabites Damogran, a desert planet where Zaphod Beeblebrox steals the Heart of Gold. A Damogran Frond Crested Eagle incorporated the first two pages of Zaphod Beeblebrox's speech into its nest, which it built out of paper mâché, and "was virtually impossible for a newly hatched baby eagle to break out of."

Equinusian packbeast

At the beginning of the Quandary Phase of the radio series, the voice of The Book describes any attempts to appeal to the better nature of the Vogons as "flogging a dead Equinusian packbeast." Director Dirk Maggs answered that this expression can be read as either referring to a horse (Latin name Equus caballus), or a separate horse-like alien species, or both.

Perfectly Normal Beast

The Perfectly Normal Beasts are a species that migrate across the Anhondo Plain on Lamuella twice a year (one direction in the spring then back again in the autumn). The migration takes about 8 to 9 days during which time they form a solid mass. They appear from thin air at one end of the plain then disappear again at the other. It is known that one end passes into the Domain of the King. They are called Perfectly Normal Beasts because naming them normalizes the event of their migration and keeps people from worrying about its cause. It is likely that the Domain of the King was built to take advantage of this odd, mile-wide gap in the bi-yearly migration, situated as it is on a rather nice stretch of land that would otherwise be badly trampled every now and then (or, the space-time warp was specifically manipulated by the Domain's original builder as a matter of convenience).

The local Lamuellans capture the beasts and kill them for their meat. The method uses similar techniques to a matador but also requires use of the Pikka Birds in order to get their attention. The best of the meat is eaten straight away while the rest is salted and stored for consumption until the next migration. It was consumed on its own until the arrival of the Sandwich Maker and is now always placed between two slices of bread.

Pikka Bird

The Pikka Birds are birds native to Lamuella. They are known for being surprised by ordinary everyday objects and events such as the sun rising but completely ignoring unusual events such as spaceships landing. They are accustomed to staring blankly at a few anonymous atoms in the middle of the air. They are also used to attract Perfectly Normal Beasts. According to Arthur Dent's description of them in the Quintessential Phase, their eggs make rather a good omelette.

(Pica pica is the Latin name for the magpie).

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal

The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal is a creature that hails from the planet of Traal, and will eat anything. If you are to encounter one, the Guide tells you that it's impossible to slay, so you should wrap a towel around your head. This creature is so mind-bogglingly stupid that it assumes that if you can't see it, then it can't see you. Despite this, the guide did state, erroneously, that "ravenous Bugblatter beasts often make a very good meal for visiting tourists" in its article on the planet Traal. This led to deaths of those who took it literally. The guides editors avoided lawsuit by summoning a poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty, and therefore prove that their claim, the nicer one, must be true. This led to life itself being held in contempt of court for being neither beautiful or true, and subsequently being removed from all those present at the trial.

In the Infocom adventure game adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Bugblatter Beast asks its victims their names before killing them, and carves the names on a memorial outside its cave. The game also describes the Beast as having Lasero-Zap eyes, Swivel-Shear Teeth, and several dozen tungsten carbide Vast Pain claws forged in the sun furnaces of Zangrijad, all implying that it is a cyborg.

According to the radio scripts, the Beast's eyes can turn red, green, then a sort of mauvy pink.

In the movie version, the Guide has an entry on what to do if you face certain, unavoidable death at the claws of a Bugblatter Beast: the same method for "What to do if you find yourself trapped beneath a large boulder with no means of escape" from Fit the Eighth of the radio series. The entry is this: "Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won't be troubling you much longer."

In the film, the Vogons apparently have a Bugblatter Beast trapped inside a metal box, about the size of a shipping container. The Beast is never seen (apart from a large green eye), but the box is continually shaking back and forth. The Vogons use it to execute people who are convicted of crimes such as kidnapping the President, and as such Tricia McMillan was nearly fed to it.

Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs

Scintillating Jeweled Scuttling Crabs live on the planet Vogsphere, the Vogons' homeworld. Vogons eat the crabs, "smashing their shells open with iron mallets." They cook the crabmeat with the native trees. Although the Vogons migrated to the Megabrantis cluster, the political hub of the Galaxy, every year the Vogons import twenty-seven thousand scintillating jeweled scuttling crabs from Vogsphere and "while away a drunken night smashing them to bits with iron mallets."

"What Was That!?"

"What Was That!?"s are odd creatures from the 2005 movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. They actually don't have names, but it is what Zaphod Beeblbrox said when he first encountered them. They originated, most likely, on the planet Vogsphere. In shape they look like rust-brown poles stuck into the ground with a rectangle on top, sometimes having a hand print inside it. Ford Prefect pulled one out of the ground, causing it to squeal in a high pitched frequency. It might have roots, due to how it looked as it was ripped from the ground. It escaped Fords towel and then slithered into the ground. They smack anyone who has an idea, then disappear into the ground.

Flora

Fluff

While not, strictly speaking, flora by itself, four bits of fluff collected in the Hitchhiker's Guide computer game can be made to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. The fruit gives its eater a glimpse of future foresight (necessary for winning said game).

Joopleberry Shrub

A mauvey pink russet plant from planet Broop Kidron Thirteen. It is the basis for the no longer used Shaltanac phrase, "the other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauvey shade of pinky russet."

Ratchet Screwdriver Fruit

A bizarre crop with an unusual life-cycle. Once picked, the fruit must be kept in a dark, dusty drawer for several years, after which time the outer skin crumbles to dust leaving an unidentifiable metal object with screw-holes and various ridges and flanges. This object will inevitably get thrown away when discovered. There is general uncertainty as to the benefits of this behaviour to the ratchet screwdriver species as a whole.

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