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"Can't you feel it? It's like a claw crushing my mind in its grasp, squeezing my brain between its talons. I can feel it scratching behind my eyes, tearing at my sanity... Emperor save us!"

Sanctioned Psyker Euos Dax, Castobel Regional Command

An Ordo Xenos Hive Fleet Leviathan Tyranid Zoanthrope specimen.

Zoanthropes (Tyranicus animus-aborrens) are perhaps the strangest and most bizarre of the Tyranid's myriad breeds. They are powerful psykers, apparently engineered from harvested Aeldari DNA to form living conduits for the focused power of the Tyranid Hive Mind. So extreme is their development that their atrophied bodies and bulbous heads are entirely energised by psychic force.

They can shoot an extremely powerful Warp blast and rival the Aeldari in their psychic prowess. They can move only by psychically levitating themselves, drifting across the battlefield to rain bolts of incandescent psychic power on the enemy or relay the Synapse commands of the Hive Mind to its lesser breeds.

Zoanthropes are without a doubt one of the more effective psychic creatures among the Tyranids. Their primary means of defence is a Warp blast psychic power that can even kill the mighty Space Marines. Zoanthropes are a potent addition to a swarm of smaller Tyranid breeds as they have extended synaptic control and provide hard-hitting ranged psychic attacks.

Despite their power, however, Zoanthropes sometimes seem to be victims of their own massive energy reserves and there have been numerous after action reports of Zoanthropes psychically "burning out" in battle. After hurling numerous psychic bolts or sustaining their shield for an extended period, their craniums have been observed to burst and bleed out, sending them crashing limply to the ground.

Imperial psykers who have witnessed these events liken it to the perils of the Warp which normal psykers can suffer when psychic energy overloads their minds.

A Tyranid Zoanthrope unleashing its powerful psychic powers upon Astra Militarum troopers.

In addition to their ability to hurl powerful bolts of Warp energy at their foes, Zoanthropes are also very difficult to destroy, especially considering how weak and feeble their actual bodies are. This resilience stems from their ability to create a powerful bubble of Warp energy around themselves, shielding them from all kind of weapons and even turning aside physical blows in close combat, much like naturally-generated Void Shields.

Like their ability to drift above the ground by extending a bubble of Warp energy around themselves, the psychic shield seems to be constantly regenerated by the Zoanthrope and is always present as long as the creature lives.

It has been noted that the shield seems to strengthen or coalesce around particularly powerful attacks, flashing bright for an instant to turn aside the blow before fading back to a uniform shimmer surrounding the alien psyker.

Zoanthrope Psychic Powers

A Tyranid Zoanthrope obliterates a Tech-priest.

The Zoanthrope, like many of the other Tyranid bio-forms, possess potent psychic powers, manifested not from drawing power from the Warp but by tapping into the vast gestalt will of the Tyranid Hive Mind itself. Powers that have been displayed by a Zoanthrope include the following:

  • Catalyst - The Zoanthrope can send out a signal from the Hive Mind that infuses lesser Tyranid creatures with an unnatural vitality.
  • Death Shock - When a Zoanthrope is slain, its death sends a psychic shockwave through the Hive Mind. All Tyranid creatures within synapse range will automatically break or flee as quickly as they can.
  • Dominion - The Zoanthrope reaches into the depths of the Hive Mind and strengthens its links to the indomitable alien will, projecting a blanket of control and purpose through its synapse to all Tyranid bio-forms nearby.
  • Hypnotic Gaze - The Zoanthrope can use its powerful gaze to snare the mind of a nearby warrior, holding it immobile and helpless as long as its stare remains unbroken. The Zoanthrope can affect a single enemy with this power, provided it can make eye contact with its intended target.
  • Leech Essence - Using the raw power of the Hive Mind, the Zoanthrope creature tears the life-force from a nearby foe, devouring its essence and healing its own wounds.
  • Onslaught - The Zoanthrope infuses a nearby Tyranid brood with burning energy and the pitiless drive of the Hive Mind to devour all in its path.
  • Paroxysm - Summoning the power of the Hive Mind, the creature assails its foes with crippling pain, tearing at their nerve endings and filling their minds with agony that makes it difficult for them to stand, let alone fight.
  • Psychic Scream - The Zoanthrope may let forth a terrible silent scream that echoes in the mind as a crippling shriek. All those sentient, living creatures (not soulless machines like the Necrons or beings of pure psychic energy like daemons) within a 20 metre radius suffer a crippling blow.
  • The Horror (Psychic Power) - The Zoanthrope unleashes a wave of horror that gnaws at the resolve of its enemies.
  • Warp Blast - By sending out a burning bolt of Warp energy, the Zoanthrope blasts an area with raw power. The Zoanthrope must choose a single creature within range as the target, through others nearby may be affected.
  • Warp Lance - More focused and thus more potent than a Warp Blast, the Warp Lance is primarily used against heavily armoured targets and vehicles. Taking the form of a single concentrated beam of Warp energy, it can strike a single target within range.

Ordo Xenos Data

Designation: Zoanthrope
Common Title: Brain
Species Name: Tyranicus animus-aborrens
Average Height: 3.5 metres
Average Weight: 0.5 tonnes
First Encountered: Moloch
Role: Psychic assault
Threat Evaluation: High


  • Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pg. 44
  • Deathwatch - Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pp. 34-35, 53
  • Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project