From what I can see, the Jaffa seem to be just humans who have been surgically altered to provide the pouch for a symbiote to live in as it grows and matures.

Is this true, or are there other differences between Jaffa and humans? (And are those differences engineered, or are they really two completely separate species?)

2 Answers 2


The extent of the change is seen in Stargate SG-1 1x14, "Hathor", when she turns Jack O'Neill into a new Jaffa.

So yes, the Jaffa are modified humans, and as seen near the end of the episode,

the loss of an immune system is part of the genetic makeup of the Jaffa. However, as we know thanks to Rya'c (Teal'c's son), this isn't from birth. The loss of the immune system appears to happen during puberty. (SG-1 1x12, "Bloodlines"). As of SG-1 7x10, "Birthright", requiring a symbiote at puberty is made explicit.

The reason for the existence of Jaffa is first mentioned in that same episode, and clarified in the Tritonin episode 6x10, "Cure":

It is so that the Goa'uld symbiotes can better adapt to their host body. Without a Jaffa to adjust the symbiote to human physiology, a blending only has a 50/50 chance of succeeding. And if it fails, both symbiote and host die.

Quick addition, also from SG-1 7x10:

Carter: "Teal'c, these children have been genetically altered to depend on symbiotes, ..."


Not surgically altered: genetically altered, thousands of years ago. For a start, they can't survive without a symbiote or (later, when it's developed) the substitute hormone, tretonin.

  • 1
    So the immune system was genetic? I know the pouch is added surgically in their coming of age ceremony.
    – Tango
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 15:43
  • @TangoOversway Yes, that seems to be a genetic alteration, judging from the first spoiler text in Izkata's answer. Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 21:33
  • 1
    @TangoOversway: The pouch is not surgically added, it's there from birth. The pouch is simply opened during the ceremony.
    – Jeff
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 14:02
  • @Jeff That’s not correct. The pouch is added when the Jaffa first receives a symbiote (the prim’ta ceremony). Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 9:45
  • @bornfromanegg Unless you think the roughly bronze-aged society that the Jaffaa maintain (yes, with occasional higher-technology presence granted by the Goa'uld) is routinely performing complex surgery to rearrange organs, the pouch is genetic and is simply opened and an initial symbiote implanted during the prim'ta.
    – Jeff
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:44

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