The Taotie are a reptilian race from an unknown world that invaded Ancient China in the 2016 film The Great Wall. The Tao Tei are green-skinned, carnivorous quadrupeds, similar in appearance to canids and similar carnivore mammals. They possess membranous head frills which resonate, allowing them to communicate with each other over long distances. These beasts possess elaborate motifs on the crests of their skulls, which gave the inspiration of the Tao Tei motif to the cultures of Ancient China, and their leathery hides have an iridescent, jade-like quality.
Types of Taotie
The most commonly seen type and numbering in the millions, these Tao Tei are about the size of a lion and somewhat hyena-like in appearance, with long slender limbs and a short tail. Their yellow eyes are located on their shoulders rather then the head, and their head possesses sockets on the front of its snout giving it a skull-like appearance. They have four-fingered forepaws with sharp claws and opposable thumbs. It has multiple rows of sharp teeth, snake-like wide-opening jaws, a bristly black mane running down its back, and a gill-like opening on its nape that it uses to stridulate like a cricket and communicate over long distances.
These Tao Tei are fewer in number (about twenty or thirty overall), are about the size of an elephant, and are rather ape-like in appearance, with eyes located on their faces and possess retractable frills on their shoulders. They lack tails, have human-like hands strong enough to pick up a small soldier Tao Tei, and have small, flat-faced heads. Bulkier and more armored, these Tao Tei defend the Queen, and are able to unfold their heavily armored frills to act as shields against bombardment. These armored frills are capable of withstanding catapults and sharp projectiles. They are always seen forming a protective ring around the Queen.
About twice as big as the Tao Tei soldiers (but smaller than her royal guards), this creature commands and controls the Tao Tei hordes. She resembles a lizard or dinosaur of some sort, with an elongated, squat body, overlapping plates on her back, a long whip-like tail and her eyes located on her face. Her head is rounded with a bulging forehead, and her lips curve upwards giving her a permanent snarling expression. Her most distinguishing physical feature is the two-pronged sail on her head which vibrates to signal to her troops. She appears to be rather intelligent, being able to come up with strategies and countermeasures to fight the colonies enemies. Her primary task is to breed, which she can only in proportion to the amount of food given to her by the workers, which they consume en masse and regurgitate back to her.
In ancient Chinese mythology like "Classic of Mountains and Seas", the taotie (饕餮) is one of the "four evil creatures of the world" or four fiends along with Hundun (混沌), Qiongqi (穷奇) and Taowu (梼杌).