The skeleton hoard (How would this creature keep its skeleton "host" in one piece?) outlined in this post is actually a sentient worm colony ruled by a "Queen" affectionally called a head crab due to its nature to nest in the skull cavity.

Now I'm wondering is a creature like this (collection of worm like organisms acting as the skeletons muscles, some fleshy bits, and nerves) physically possible?

Secondly what would be a logical way to feed the colony preferably by use of the skeletons anatomy and a mainly meat based diet.

Note: The colony can create sacks within the rib cage to store food stuffs. The colony also builds a thin and slightly see through membrane around the skeleton to not only contain the colonies organs, but to also as protection (skin), and to still appear as skeletons.

  • $\begingroup$ It is always preferable when your question is understandable without reading outside sources (in this case your former question). I'd recommend you add the information from the other question you are referring to to this one. It helps significantly. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2018 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ I added all of the important information from the previous question, but some people here like a bit of extra information. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2018 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Jun 28, 2018 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre maybe they're closing it as too broad, or as an idea generation question? Personally I'm against the closure if that is the case, although I can see their point $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2018 at 3:40

2 Answers 2


Physically possible, yes. Does it make sense for it to evolve? No.

More info on physical possibility: Snakes are capable of moving bones (or any hard object) in the way you're talking about. Your worms can take biological cues from them. Plenty of creatures build nests, pouches, and storage areas of various kinds in various ways. Your worms can create "organs" in a similar manner, and a rib cage is well suited to build them on. The same mechanism could create a skin-analogue. The only possible barrier I see here is looking like a skeleton. Anything in the real world capable of animating bones is going to be large enough to be visible. I don't see how you could have this colony animating a skeleton and not being visible enough to never be mistaken for a living skeleton. Maybe it could be mistaken for a zombie, though?

More info on evolutionary problems: I can't think of any collection of environmental pressures that could cause this sort of creature to be selected naturally. First, let's look at what might select a creature that's attracted to the bones of another creature. Scavengers spend a lot of time with bones, but only until they're picked clean. I could also imagine a creature like a termite making its home inside bones or maybe even using the bones as a food source if calcium was scarce in its environment. For either creature, though, I can't think of any step toward using those bones for anything other than a protective shell, a weapon, or a nest that would be remotely useful for survival. Even if we get past that hurtle and the creature or colony of creatures for some reason starts carrying bones with it and not fashioning them into one of the previously mentioned items, I can't think of anything at all that would help them evolve toward animating the bones in the fashion of the bones' previous owner. It just doesn't make sense to spend the energy required to do that, except MAYBE as a disguise or scare tactic, but unless these creatures are very intelligent and very motivated, I don't see them getting to that point. (Intelligence would explain away the need for evolving an instinctual desire to animate the skeleton that way, but they would still need a good motivation to expend the energy required to organize and carry out the plan) I don't think you're designing a creature with that kind of intelligence, though.

That leaves open a few options, in my mind: 1) Ignore the evolution issue. There's a lot we don't know about evolution, anyway, so I think it's okay to just leave its evolution a mystery. 2) Evolution doesn't exist. Maybe your world and its creatures were intelligently designed by a god. Maybe ours was. There are arguments for that. Let's not start a religious debate, please! 3) This creature in particular did not evolve naturally. It could have been genetically modified or created, or magically modified or created. Maybe some cult selectively bred it over millennia for who knows what reason. Go nuts! (Much like the aforementioned cult)

That's all I've got. I hope these thoughts help :)

  • $\begingroup$ I'm probably going to go with option 3 I planned for the skeletons to be intelligent and act as ambush predators to jump travellers for plot purposes. Thanks for the answer! $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2018 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, ok - if they're intelligent I think you're good to go. :) All the capabilities they would need have evolved naturally on Earth already, so I don't see evolution as a barrier in that case. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jun 28, 2018 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ I might just add some bio engineering into their history just in case. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2018 at 21:44

I agree with Josh in the way it would be physically possible to articulate the bones and function in the mechanical sense but also that the size of the organisms required to do this would probably result in a more zombie look than skeleton.

If you're not 100% rigid on the concept of a predominantly bony skeleton design, then a really cool but creepy way for this to work is a parasitic relationship with a not-yet-dead host. Infect a living host with a Queen that releases a batch of worm eggs which in turn grow and distribute themselves throughout the host's body, integrating with the musculature and tendon structure.

They can grow by feeding off the host, slowly taking over its motor functions as it feeds off the host's own flesh. The queen at the same time takes control over the mind and nervous system, using it to establish links between its minions. In the end you have most of the flesh consumed and a walking skeleto-zombie that acts as an ambush predator to capture and infect more hosts. In this way you solve the problem of how it copies the host's animation but also how it reproduces.

Depending on your intended life cycle you could either have these 'adult' hives survive just long enough to reproduce, then die when they've consumed all the flesh in their host, or capture extra prey to serve as meat sacks for the developed hives to feed off.

  • $\begingroup$ Ooh I like this idea. Also the queens dying after running out of flesh (and a little bit later) is a convenient excuse for a proper hoard or aggressive head crabs. $\endgroup$ Jun 29, 2018 at 1:17

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