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The name Silurians refers to a fictional race of reptile-like beings in the long-running Britishmarker science fiction television series Doctor Who. The Silurians were Earth's first sentient species, were scientifically advanced, and lived during prehistoric times. At some point, the Moon approached close to Earth, threatening to cause geological upheaval, and the Silurians went into self-induced hibernation to survive.

Overview

The name Silurian is a misnomer. In the original story, it was coined and used exclusively by humans. The misnomer arose because the race was identified as belonging to the Silurian period when they were first encountered in the Third Doctor serial Doctor Who and the Silurians even though the Silurian period occurred before dinosaures, or even tetrapods, had evolved. The Doctor, in a later serial, mentions that Silurians should more properly be called Eocenes. However, that term appears to be equally inaccurate. The Silurians are seen using dinosaurs as guard animals, and by the Eocene epoch, dinosaurs had long become extinct and the megafauna of Earth was larglly mammalian. Lawrence Miles suggests in his About Time reference books that the primitive Silurians co-existed with dinosaurs and their domesticated versions survived with them. An alternative explanation is that the Silurians resurrected the dinosaurs from fossil remains, using their expertise in genetic engineering.

To further confuse matters, in one episode, the Old Silurian is seen with a globe of the Earth at the time of the global supercontinent Pangaea, which would date them to the Permian or Triassic at 250 million years before the present, long after the Silurian and long before the Eocene, though this would at least be consistent with them living in a time when the earth was warmer that today and dominated by ectothermic "reptiles" and would allow for overlap with the early dinosaures. Earlier supercontinents (Pannotia, Rodinia, Columbia, Kenorland, Urmarker and Vaalbara) preceded Pangaea, but they also predate the Silurian the evolution of reptiles and multicellular life on Earth itself.

Finally when the "Silurians" first encounter humans they immediately recognise them as apes, which did not emerge until the Miocene, a time even more recent than the Eocene.

In the novelisation of Doctor Who and the Silurians (titled Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters), they are always identified as "reptile men (and women)" and in some of the New Adventures novels, the terms "Earth Reptile" and "Indigenous Terran" are offered as "modern" terms for them. Whichever period of history the Silurians actually belonged to, the first name applied to them is the one that has stuck.

Silurians are scaly, cold-blooded reptilian humanoids, with yellow eyes and oval mouths. In Doctor Who and the Silurians they are also possessed of a red third eye that has various abilities, such as stunning or killing their opponents, signalling each other, or opening doors keyed to emanations from the third eye. The eye glows when it is active. In their subsequent appearance in Warriors of the Deep (1984), the eye merely glows harmlessly (because of a mistake on the part of the production team) when an individual Silurian speaks. This "third eye" may be based on the parietal eye of the tuatara, which does have some sort of light-sensing function.

Some other anatomical discrepancies exist between the Silurians of their original story and Warriors of the Deep. The spin-off novel The Scales of Injustice by Gary Russell and the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip Final Genesis explain the discrepancy by stating that Silurians of differing appearance belonged to different sub-species. The cover artwork of Scales of Injustice even portrays a hybrid Silurian with features intermediate between their aquatic cousins the Sea Devil and one of the Silurians seen in Warriors.

History

In their first appearance in Doctor Who and the Silurians, a group of Silurians were awakened from hibernation by the energy from a nearby nuclear power research centre. The Silurians then attempted to reclaim the planet from humanity by releasing a deadly virus and attempting to disperse part of the Van Allen Belt. Both plans, however, were thwarted by the Doctor. Despite the Doctor's best efforts to broker a peaceful solution, the Silurian base was destroyed by UNIT on Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's order.

Another group of Silurians in Warriors of the Deep allied themselves with the Sea Devils, in a second attempt to reclaim Earth from the humans. That attempt took place circa 2084. Curiously, on that occasion the creatures used the terms "Silurians" and "Sea Devils" to refer to themselves, despite these terms previously being purely human phrases. They also referred to a previous encounter with the Doctor, but the terms used did not match the earlier stories (Scales of Injustice was also written to fill this gap). This story portrayed the Silurians as having a living weapon, the Myrka.

Other appearances by the Silurians in the Doctor Who spin-off media include the Virgin New Adventures novel Blood Heat, which featured an alternate reality where the Silurians had conquered Earth, and the abovementioned Scales of Injustice. Also featuring the Silurians were the Big Finish Productions audio plays Bloodtide (with the Sixth Doctor), where Charles Darwin and the Beagle expedition encounter a rogue Silurian group in the Galápagos Islandsmarker. It was revealed that the leader of this group had been responsible for creating humanity's prehistoric ancestors via a forbidden breeding program.

UNIT: The Coup (with now-General Sir Lethbridge-Stewart), set in the present day (but see UNIT dating controversy), had the Silurians attempt to finally make peace in the humans, though the general public believed it to be a stunt involving men in rubber suits. In UNIT: The Wasting, the Silurians aid UNIT in finding a cure for a deadly plague. How this peace eventually breaks down into the open hostility seen in Warriors of the Deep some eighty years later is not known.

Silurians have also made many minor appearances in the New Adventures, as they have been accepted into Terran society by Bernice Summerfield's time, when the term "Earth Reptile" was apparently popularised.

The Doctor Who Magazine cycle of comic strips, The Cybermen portrays the Cybermen discovering Silurians and Sea Devils living on the planet Mondas during an unspecified time in the past. Whether these Earth Reptiles evolved on Mondas or were transported there is not clear. The strip also portrays Golgoth, a primordial humanoid reptile god-figure, who resembles a Sea Devil and may have some link to the Silurians. The first strip, The Dead Heart, introduces the Silurians into continuity; subsequent strips concentrate on the Sea Devils and, later, Golgoth. In Final Genesis, an alternate universe is seen where the Silurians made peace with humanity and the two races live in harmony, with UNIT renamed the United Races Intelligence Command.

Appearances

Television


Novels


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