Silurian (Doctor Who)


type=Reptilian humanoids
affiliation=Sea Devils
start=Doctor Who and the Silurians
The name Silurians refers to a fictional race of reptile-like beings in the long-running British 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.


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". 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. 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.

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.

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 Devils and one of the Silurians seen in "Warriors".

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 Islands. It was revealed that the leader of this group had been responsible for creating humanity's prehistoric ancestors via a forbidden breeding program.

' (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 ', 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.


*"Doctor Who and the Silurians" — January 31March 14 1970
*"Warriors of the Deep" — January 5January 13 1984

*"Blood Heat" by Jim Mortimore
*"The Scales of Injustice" by Gary Russell

;Comic strips
*"Twilight of the Silurians" by Steve Moore (script) and David Lloyd (art), "Doctor Who Weekly" #21-#22
*"City of Devils" by Gary Russell (script) and Vincent Danks (art), "Doctor Who Magazine" Holiday Special 1992"; featuring Sarah Jane Smith and K-9.
*"Final Genesis" by Warwick Grey (script) and Colin Andrew (art), DWM #203-#206; set in an alternate world where humans and Silurians have become allies; featuring the Seventh Doctor, Ace, and Bernice Summerfield visiting from "our" universe.
*"The Cybermen: The Dead Heart" by Alan Barnes (script) and Adrian Salmon (art), DWM #215-#220

;Audio plays

*A cave drawing of a Silurian and a Sea Devil appear in a cave on Mars in ""

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