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Targetdrone.gif This article is about the the Tyranid species; for the Apothecary tool, see Carnifex (Tool).
A monstrous Carnifex tears into a Rhino[2a]

Carnifexes are hulking, powerful Tyranid creatures used as living battering rams. They are often armed with the most powerful Tyranid Bio-weapons, and are used in shock assaults, spaceship boarding actions, massed battles, and for battering through fortified positions and tank formations.[1a]


Carnifexes excel at thunderous charges, where their immense bulk is used to crush or smash through any opponent or obstacle. They are not as swift as other Tyranid creatures but their brute force more than makes up for this. A Carnifex's stampede takes time to build force as their incredible alien musculature strains to propel it forward. As it builds momentum and reaches top speed, the ground shakes with each stride of the monster and foes are scattered or trampled before it, and only fortress walls or Super Heavy Tanks have any chance of surviving the ferocious impact.[1a] Most Carnifex kills registered come from high energy attacks — lascannon, plasma and melta weapon strikes to critical locations. Carnifexes can shrug off other small arms fire and even boltgun hits with minimal loss of function.[4a]

Carnifexes are not very intelligent and in fact have little self-awareness. They will revert to unthinking rampages of destruction if not constantly supervised and guided by the Hive Mind.[1a] All Carnifex species seem well able to adapt to extremes of environments, from arctic cold to desert heat.[4a]

The Imperium's first recorded encounters with the Carnifex were in the battles against Hive Fleet Behemoth that lead up to the Battle for Macragge. As the Imperium tried to stop the Tyranids in space, Carnifexes were at the head of every boarding action.[1a] The strain of Carnifexes encountered became known as Screamer-Killers because of their terrible ululating shriek, caused by rasping plates in their esophagus that were used to energize a form of bio-plasma in their gut to shoot bio-plasmic bolts, and in some instances Screamer Killers were reported using an electrical field around their claws to build up an incandescent bio-plasma ball before launching it at a target over longer ranges.[4a]

The Carnifex genus actually comprises many species displaying a wide variety of symbiotic weaponry such as the Heavy Venom Cannon, Stranglethorn Cannon, and Deathspitters.[2] They also can sport a number of support Biomorphs including Adrenal Glands, Acid Maw, Chitin Thorns, Enhanced Senses, Spore Cysts, Toxin Sacs, and Tusks.[12]

Species of Carnifex

There are many species in the Carnifex Genus:

Major Strains

  • Carnifex Vorantii — Commonly called the “Thornback,” these creatures are living batteries of symbiote weaponry equipped with short- to medium-range ballistic parasites and living bomb projectors. Several of the intimidating-looking thorns on this subspecies are in fact sensory organs for sniffing out prey. They are infantry hunters that seem to take pleasure in rooting out hiding men. Despite its lack of specialized melee limbs the Thornback is extremely dangerous at close quarters, where its speed and bulk allow it to easily impale incautious enemies.[4b]
  • The Screamer-Killer is the most infamous adaptation – and the biggest. Named after the sinister howl emitted as it unleashes their Bio-plasma blasts, Screamer-Killers are unstoppable shock creatures.[11]

  • a Thornback[2b]
  • a Stone-Crusher[5]
  • a Screamer-Killer[11]

Rare strains

  • Carnifex Bilius, commonly called “Bile-beasts,” have been converted into walking biological weapons factories. Their carapaces are pitted with bubbling spore cysts and their guts writhe with lethal pathogens and molecular acids that gout from dorsal vents. The combined attack of necrotizing spores and acids used by these beasts will fatally overwhelm most bio-chem defences in moments; more resistant enemies are crushed by the creatures’ crab-like claws and digested by its drooling, acidic maw."[4b]
Death Beetle
  • This beast was designed so that it took advantage of nearly every biomorph.[8]
  • This life form is absolutely single minded in its purpose to destroy each and every piece of armour on the battlefield.[8]
Strangle Seeder[8]
  • This Carnifex was built to slaughter even the toughest infantry in wholesale quantities. They are typically equipped with 2 twin Devourers, Spinebanks, and enhanced senses.[8]
Tusked Shrieker
  • Though fully capable of ripping through vehicles (or anything else for that matter), this bio-construct will often lumber straight for Elite infantry squads [8]
  • Carnifex Arbylis, a sub-classification of extreme Carnifex variants that meld both pairs of upper limbs into complex ranged weapon symbiotes. Most common of these is the "Venomspitter" Carnifex, a beast capable of launching hyper-velocity crystalline shards of pure poison that can knock out a tank or easily kill a warrior in power armour. Carnifex Arbylis generally have improved ocular acuity and excellent depth perception from multiple eyes, although specimens employing a kind of stereoscopic echo-location have also been found on night worlds.[4b]

Notable Individual Carnifexes

  • Old One Eye - a unique Carnifex with the ability to regenerate itself from mortal wounds.[1b]


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Tyranid Planetary Forces
Commanders Norn-QueenHive TyrantNeurotyrant (Neuroloid) • BroodlordNeurothropeTervigonTyranid PrimeTrygon PrimeMalanthrope
Elites BiovoreTyrant Guard (Hive Guard) • Lictor (NeurolictorDeathleaper) • LeaperPyrovoreVenomthropeZoanthrope
Troops Tyranid Warrior (Shrike) • RavenerGenestealerGaunt (TermagantHormagauntBarbgauntNeurogaunt) • Ripper (Sky-Slasher)
Monstruous Creatures Carnifex (ThornbackStone CrusherScreamer-Killer) • DimachaeronExocrineHaruspexMaleceptorPsychophageSporocystToxicreneTyrannofex
Gargantuan Creatures CereboreDactylisHieroduleMalefactorMawlocNorn EmissaryNorn AssimilatorTrygon
Bio-Titans DominatrixHierophantViciatorNautiloidVermis
Flying Creatures GargoyleHarpyHarridanHive CroneTyrannocyte
Spores Meiotic SporeMycetic SporeSpore MineMucolid Spore
Unique Tyranids SwarmlordDoom of Malan'taiOld One EyeParasite of MortrexRed Terror