Jan Thijs/CBS
James Hibberd
July 19, 2017 AT 12:43 PM EDT

Who is this guy?

You know, that alien character in the above Star Trek: Discovery photo played by Doug Jones? As a representative of a totally new species in the world of Trek, this major character in the upcoming series been a total mystery — until now.

EW can reveal some basic details about this Starfleet Science Officer who was teased in the trailer as a being who can somehow sense approaching death.

“Doug Jones character plays Lt. Saru,” says writer-producer Aaron Harberts, who is showrunner on the upcoming CBS All Access drama along with Gretchen J. Berg. “What we can tell you that adds the context to that clip where he says he can sense the coming of death is that he comes from a planet where he’s a ‘prey species.’ He’s the first of his kind to make it to Starfleet.”

On Saru’s planet, there’s a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens. As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts. Such prey species tend to have a cowardly reputation in the Federation, but Saru should not be underestimated.

Jones is an ideal casting choice as he’s had a long career playing creatures and aliens of all sorts and sizes — you’ve seen him on screen many more times than you probably realize. The lanky 6’3″ actor played Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, the Faun and the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, as well as roles in many other films and TV shows. Jones is sort of like the Andy Serkis of practical makeup creatures.

“[Producers] said Saru is the Spock of the series, he’s the Data of the series — and those are beloved characters that I always connect with whenever I would watch the past incarnations of Star Trek,” said Jones, giving some details about his role for the first time. “On Falling Skies, I played an alien species who came to Earth to help the humans fight back the bad aliens who’d taken over, and I was intelligent, well-spoken, had a lot of answers and science-y smart. Saru is all of those things and then some.”

Jones and the rest of the Discovery cast will be on hand at the show’s debut Comic-Con panel, which will take place Saturday, July 22 at 2:30 p.m. PT in Ballroom 20.

Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) as a brilliant Starfleet First Officer — the first human educated on Vulcan — who’s forced to make an impossibly difficult decision which impacts the entire Federation. The series also stars Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Anthony Rapp, Shazad Latif, and Mary Wiseman.

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Star Trek: Discovery will debut Sunday, Sept. 24 (first on CBS, then shifting to CBS All Access streaming service; Netflix internationally).

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