Before the Season Two premiere of The Mandalorian, you may have thought the Krayt Dragon was a terrifying new addition to the Star Wars canon. But if it seems familiar, you’re not alone. The Krayt Dragon was first referenced in Star Wars: A New Hope – with ties all the way back to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The Krayt Dragon in The Mandalorian is terrifying, not just because the space worm is nearly impossible to kill, but because of its massive size and ferocious appetite for people and animals that it satisfies by popping unexpectedly out of the ground to gulp down unsuspecting prey. But we already knew the Krayt Dragon was going to be scary because the Tusken Raiders showed their fear for the mysterious creature back in the very first Star Wars movie.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Krayt Dragon scream
In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is attacked by a group of pesky Tusken Raiders while seeking Obi-Wan Kenobi. As luck would have it, Obi-Wan shows up and rescues Skywalker by emulating a spooky monster call that sends the Raiders scrambling for cover. It wasn’t entirely clear why the Tusken Raiders were so frightened by the sound but later Star Wars material told us the noise Obi-Wan made was the sound of a Krayt Dragon. As Obi-Wan explained in the radio version:
“I imitated the hunting cry of a krayt dragon Their imaginations did the rest and they took to their heels.”
In the 1991 Star Wars book Heir to the Empire, Skywalker uses the same tactic himself.
What is a Krayt Dragon?
Later Star Wars lore described the Krayt Dragon as a giant carnivorous reptile that came in two subspecies: the smaller and more common canyon krayt, and the later greater krayt. The creature was said to be “apex predators of Tatooine”. We also learned that their bodies produced a venom which helped the animal digest its food. If threatened, the Krayt Dragon could regurgitate the venom, instantly dissolving any organic tissue it came into contact with. We witnessed the venom’s destruction in the Season 2 premiere of The Mandalorian.
The Krayt Dragon’s primal scream changes in the at-home version of Star Wars
As for the Krayt Dragon’s primal scream, amusingly, George Lucas didn’t like the original sound effect, and tried several different versions with the Special Editions. It humorously changed in the at-home release of Star Wars. In the video below you can see and hear Obi-Wan’s Krayt Dragon cry that scared the Tusken Raiders. The first clip shows the theatrical version of the cry and the second shows the later Blu-Ray version.
What about the Krayt Dragon pearl?
In The Mandalorian, we find the Tusken Raiders agree to help kill the Krayt Dragon only if they are allowed unencumbered possession of the dragon’s corpse. After the dragon is killed, we see the Raiders inside the creature’s hollowed-out carcass, cutting and poking, as if looking for something. Suddenly, a Tusker Raider rises from the flesh with a huge, bowling-ball-sized, burgundy-streaked pearl. Like the Krayt Dargon itself, the Krayt Dragon pearl was mentioned long before The Mandalorian’s visual introduction to the monster.
In the Star Wars video game, Knights of the Old Republic, the pearl was introduced in a quest that included hunting a Krayt Dragon. The pearl was a reward for killing the beast. According to the game’s description of the object:
“Taken from the gullet of the Krayt Dragon, this crystalline ‘pearl’ appears to have refractory qualities that might allow it to function as a lightsaber crystal once properly adapted.”
Lore tells us that the Krayt Dragon pearl formed from stone that the Krayt swallowed and used to help digest food. The stone moved around inside the creature’s bowels, crushing food into tiny pieces. The constant action cause the pearl to become rounded.
Interestingly, in earlier Star Wars canon, Han Solo used a Krayt Dragon pearl to pay his way into the famous sabacc game where he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian.