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Sandtrout (The Dune Encyclopedia, art by Matt Howarth)

Sandworm larval stage from The Dune Encyclopedia; art by Matt Howarth

Sandtrout were the docile larval form of sandworms on the desert planet Arrakis. They were described as grey, leathery and diamond-shaped, with no apparent head, eyes or extremities except retractable pseudopods called cilia.

Relationship with Sandworms[]

Sandtrout existed in vast colonies beneath the sands of Arrakis, locked body to body with coarse interlacings of extruded cilia until the whole became one massive placental organism capable of trapping entire bodies of water deep underground.

Newborn sandworm (concept art by Mark Simpson a.k.a

A proto-sandworm, developed from a sandtrout cocoon (concept art from cancelled Paramount production)

Many would die as part of the natural life cycle of their planet and the violent spice blows that sandtrout produced with their mounting fungal excretions. Trout that survived this process eventually clumped together to form a young worm or "Little Maker," becoming essentially a mobile colony organism which grew over many years into the colossal annelids lurking the dry depths of Arrakeen sands. However, any significant exposure to moisture would cause an adult sandworm to "die" and rupture into its original sandtrout components.

Having tough and leathery bodies in open air, sandtrout were more pliable and fragile in water. When squeezed, they secreted a sweet green syrup that yielded a small energy boost. Being harmless organisms, children in Fremen sietches would play games with them to entertain themselves, such as using them as gloves or attaching them to sticks.

Through his Other Memory, Leto Atreides II probed the many lives of his ancestors and came to realize that sandtrout were not native to Arrakis. Eons prior, the planet had once been lush and wet before the organisms arrived, proliferated and encysted all its water, trapping it deep underground where they could eventually coalesce into full sandworms before migrating to drier layers of sand. This was consistent with physical evidence found on Arrakis, such as salt beds that were apparently once ocean floors.

Leto Atreides II[]

Sandtrout crawling onto Leto II's hand (Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, 2003, Sci-Fi Channel)

Sandtrout crawling up Leto's hand in the 2003 miniseries

As part of his Golden Path to ensure humanity's future, Leto allowed a small colony of sandtrout to attach themselves to his body so that he could extend his lifespan and eventually release this symbiotic mass back into his terraformed planet to restore its desert state and worm population. The first sandtrout formed a glove over his right hand, and the next ones linked their cilia until most of his body was covered.

Leto's balance of spice-saturated blood and prana-bindu biochemistry not only prevented their rejection by tricking them into thinking he was a nutritious pocket of water, it also allowed him to survive all the cilia that burrowed into his flesh and organs with no apparent pain or disability. After their successful bond, this colonial symbiote acted as an indestructible second skin and amplified his speed and strength to frightening levels.

Over the next 35 centuries, Leto's body gradually changed and enlarged - not only growing a powerful tail but losing the use of his legs until he was more worm than man, his metabolism and biochemistry a perfect hybrid of the two. Contrariwise, he also modified his sandtrout in the process - even imparting his own genetic memories - making them tougher and more adaptable so they could eventually be settled on other worlds, thus ensuring the survival of "his" species and therefore the spice melange.

Appearances in the Dune series[]


Background featurettes[]

'Filmbook' style background featurettes from the film series, providing additional insights into various aspects and details of the Dune universe.