May the Fourth Be With You: Explorer Captures Wookiee and Self in Photo

Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has given more than 10,000 grants to support research, conservation, and exploration throughout the world.

In this long history of expeditions, none has been met with as much skepticism as Alphaeus Blackburn’s current efforts to search for evidence of a lost civilization in the dense rainforests of Kashyyyk, and make first contact with whatever population survives there.

It is widely accepted that long, long ago, those trees were home to countless numbers of homind-like creatures 7-feet tall and covered in hair, known to posterity as “Wookiees.” Ancient chronicles record the heroic exploits of a few, and fleeting references survive that describe rich family lives and celebration of a holiday known as “Life Day” (though many scholars dispute the authenticity of the evidence).

May the Fourth

So it was with great pleasure (and no little surprise) that this morning, 4th of May, we received our first update from Blackburn, who, after just a few days of acclimating to the local conditions, has already confirmed the continued presence of Wookiees on Kaskyyyk, in no less dramatic form than having caught one of them and himself on film.

May the Fourth: Millennia after the collapse of their civilization, Wookiees are still to be found on the planet Kashyyyk, sometimes unexpectedly, as seen in this photo from the field. (Photo courtesy National Geographic)

While the photo obviously came through nicely, there was no accompanying text, so little is known at this time of the outcome of the encounter. From our expert analysis of the image it is clear that Blackburn was at least initially taken off guard. Whether he a) was able to communicate with the Wookiee, b) will send any update soon, or c) retains his arms is yet to be determined.

May the Force be with him.


NEXT: Earth’s Five Great Early Civilizations



Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.