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Volume 1490

THE MYSTERY OF CAPRONA
By Den Valdron
Del Rey edition: Michael Herring cover artAce paperback: Roy G. Krenkel artSegrelles cover art

 

Introduction

“All came up from the beginning. The egg from which they first developed into tadpole form was deposited, with millions of others, in one of the warm pools.... Down the warm stream from the pool floated the countless billions of eggs and tadpoles, developing as they drifted slowly toward the sea. Some became tadpoles in the pool, some in the sluggish stream and some not until they reached the great inland sea. In the next stage they became fishes or reptiles, An-Tak was not positive which, and in this form, always developing, they swam far to the south, where, amid the rank and teeming jungles, some of them evolved into amphibians. Always there were those whose development stopped at the first stage, others whose development ceased when they became reptiles.    Few indeed were those that eventually developed into baboons and then apes, which was considered by Caspakians the real beginning of evolution.   From the ape the individual, if it survived, slowly developed into the lowest order of man -- the Alu -- and then by degrees to Bo-lu, Sto-lu, Band-lu, Kro-lu and finally Galu. And in each stage countless millions of other eggs were deposited in the warm pools of the various races and floated down to the great sea to go through a similar process of evolution outside the womb as develops our own young within;

Here we have the unique evolution of Caspak in a nutshell, a super-lamarkian ‘by your own bootstraps’ opposed to gradual evolution.   From pollywog, through amphibian, reptile, monkey, caveman to true human, all in one generation.   On Caspak, hominids, which for convenience we will call Lu, progress from Ho-Lu (apes) through Alu, Bo-lu, Sto-lu, Band-lu, Kro-lu to Galu (modern man). 

Other writers have ably traced the genesis and make up of the intellectual ideas that give rise to Burroughs pseudo-scientific romance.  I don’t propose to do that here.   Instead, in this essay, I will assume that Caprona and its species are more or less as Burroughs describes it.  Where there is ambiguity, such as whether dinosaurs also follow this super-lamarkian path, I'll make a conservative judgment.  But where something is clearly stated, then obviously, it must be accepted.


The Anomalous Sources of Animal Life in Caspak

Biologically Caspak is a mess every which way.    Before we tackle the strange life cycle of the Lu people, let's take a look at the Fauna and try and make some judgments.

First, all or almost all of the known species in Caspak appear to have analogues in the outside world at some point in history.   If we accept Burroughs literally, the fauna of Caspak are exactly those as found in the fossil record.

This seems to make sense.  The alternate explanation is that Caspak is somehow independently evolving creatures identical to assorted prehistoric and existing species.  This seems quite patently to go against every biological concept that we know of.

Instead, I think we have to assume that if something resembles an Allosaur or a Horse, then it actually is an Allosaur or a Horse and shares a common ancestor and common descent with those specimens found alive or in fossil pits elsewhere.  No independent genesis.  Normally, this would go without saying, but Caspak is such an odd place that it is worth articulating.

But there is a very odd mixture of animals.   The time factor is obvious of course, we're mixing various Mezosoic Era's giant reptiles with Pleistoscene Era's giant mammals.  But it goes deeper than that.

Of the identified reptiles we see:   Plesiosaurs, Pterodactyls, Allosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Snakes, Huge Lizards, Diplodocus.   Here is a puzzle.  Lizards and Snakes, of course, are common to every era.  Plesiosaurs ranged throughout the Mezosoic.  But the next members posed problems.  Allosaurs and Diplodocus were creatures of the Jurassic era only.  Tyrannosaurs and Pterodactyls were Cretaceous creatures only.   They never coexisted temporally.  Nor did either set coexist with large mammals.

Of the identified mammals, we see:   Mammoths, Mastodons, Bison, Rhinoceros, Sabretooths, Tibers, Hyeanodons, Hyeanas, Aurochs, Deer, Monkeys. Cave Bear, Cave Lion, Lions, Panthers, Leopards, Lynx, Tigers, Cows, Red, Eohippus, Horses Red Deers, Goats, Megatherium, Wooly Rhino, Wolves.   There are some anomalies here.  The Megatherium was common only to South and North America, not the old world. The Bison were a North American species.  Meanwhile Aurochs were creatures restricted to Europe and Asia, the Cave Bear was a European only creature.  Tigers were restricted to Asia, and Leopards to Africa.   Several of these animals are current, having come into existence in their present form only a few million years ago at most, and still exist, or died out as recently as a few tens of thousands of years ago.  Oddly, given Caprona's location, there are no representatives of known Australian existing or extinct species.   Apart from the Megatherium, there are no representatives of current or extinct South American species. 

In short, not only is the temporal distribution anomalous, but the geographical origins of these creatures are anomalous as well.  They come from at least three or four distinct locations and at least as many different eras.  This begs the question:   How did they get there?


The Physical Origins of Species

One could imagine Dinosaurs or Prehistoric mammals wandering into an adjacent region which then is then separated from the rest of the lands by the sinking of a land bridge or surrounding areas, or by the development of swamps, geological uplifts, barrier mountains, and thus surviving as living fossils for millions of years. 

But this doesn't seem to be the case here.  Caspak is isolated in the South Pacific, its closest neighbors are Antarctica, South America, New Zealand and Australia.   It shows no sign of any of those continents fauna, with the possible exceptions of the Megatherium.   It's remotely possible that some of the animals are actually Marsupial or Liptotern copies from parallel evolution in Australia or South America.   The Marsupials produced their own versions of lions and sabre toothed tigers.  But there's no indication of that.

So, how do we explain Cave Bears, Tigers and Megatherium?   Presumably, Caspak either had contact with their original continents, or with some other location to which these animals had migrated.   If Caspak did make contact with continents repeatedly to pick up new species, why aren't Caspak's preserved fossil species re-introduced into the continents?  Why didn't the dinosaurs make a comeback?  There doesn't seem to be any coherent mechanism that would allow new species into Caspak without old ones getting out? 

Another mystery is how Caspak has preserved the extreme profusion of fauna, and in particular, the great size of the Megafauna.   On much larger islands like Madgascar or Sicily, the tendency has been for giant species like the Hippo or Elephant to shrink into dwarf varieties, even as small species grow larger.   Yet if anything the Megafauna are as diverse as ever and even larger than originally found.

Is Caspak some sort of floating island, motoring around, connecting up first with North America, bouncing off Europe, toodling through the Indian Ocean sliding against Asia, and finally into the South Pacific?   And bumping repeatedly against continents for a hundred million years?   What kind of journey makes sense?   What are the mechanics? 

Plate tectonics acknowledges that continents and land masses do move, so it is remotely possible that a comparatively small subcontinental plate might travel, and perhaps travel more rapidly than large continental plates.   The barrier cliffs should erode over millions of years, but it is possible that the wandering journey built them back up again.   It's possible that the geography has occasionally allowed new species in, without allowing old species to get out, something like a lobster pot.   It is also remotely possible that Caspak's bowl shaped structure preserved a fairly stable climate, no matter what latitude it was in, which would prevent species extinction.   But all of this seems extremely improbable.   I'd have to assign the ‘Wandering Caspak’ notion a low order of probability.


A Pellucidar Connection?

The more likely explanation is that Caspak's fauna are all derived from a single source, rather than a hundred million year wandering journey.   Unfortunately, there is no potential candidate on Earth.   Even other ‘lost worlds, such as Pal Ul Don, Skull Island or Maple White Land do not show the temporal and geographic diversity of Caspak.

There is one place where presumably all of Caspak's fauna coexists together:  Pellucidar.   This may be cheating in the sense of offering up one impossibility as an explanation for another impossibility.   But nevertheless, Pellucidar is well established in Burroughs canon.  There are several chronicles of Pellucidar, and direct or indirect crossovers (through the Gridley wave communications) with Tarzan, Mars, Venus and the Moon.   Both Pellucidar's existence in Burroughs world, and peculiar mixture of every conceivable flora and fauna of Earth's history must be conceded.  In particular, Pellucidar is the home for almost every species found on Caspak.

So, how does Pellucidar's life get to Caspak?   Or a better question:   How does all of Earth's history of life wind up in Pellucidar?   As to the latter question, it is dealt with in another paper.  On the former question, there are two possibilities.

The first possibility is Antarctica.   Antarctica is at one of the polar openings, but the indications are that it was not always glaciated.   It is possible that Antarctica was once a fertile, live continent, colonized by or an out post of Pellucidarean life.   In which case, Pellucidar might have colonized Antarctica, which then in turn, colonized nearby Caspak.

There is an alternative:  I have offered up detailed discussions of Pellucidar elsewhere, which discuss geography, geology and dynamics of this strange realm, including the possibility that gateways or openings periodically open between the inner and outer worlds outside of the polar openings.  Caspak may be or may be in one of these gateways.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that Caspak is or was on the gateway, or the threshold of one of the gateways:   It's obscurity.   It is simply too large a piece of land not to have been previously explored if situated normally.   In fact, other large South hemisphere islands, even relatively smaller ones, were thoroughly mapped and charted, and occasionally settled.   As examples, we have the British possessions of the South Georgia and Falklands Islands in the Atlantic, as well as the French possessions of the Crozet and Kerguelen archipelagos in the Indian Ocean.   Hence, we need a coherent explanation for Caspak's relative isolation and obscurity.   Thus, our theory, as outlined in the Pellucidar essay, that Caprona is actually concealed below the line of Earth's curvature within an ocean ‘gateway’ to Pellucidar, in an area for which conventional navigation is problematic.


Peculiarities of Apparent Hominid Development

So, what about the strange life cycle of the inhabitants?   The ‘ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny’ of evolution which takes place for the Lu people on Caspak.

Some observations need to be made.   First, Caspak's peculiar evolution is not universal.  The Wieroo are an explicit notable exception to this odd rule, they reproduce themselves in the usual way...  Or at least, sort of usual. 

It also seems likely that the variety of animals are reproducing in the usual way.  It's possible of course that some of the eggs released by females develop into pterodactyls, allosaurs and mammoths, but there seems little evidence or support for this.  Certainly the progression of evolution comes to a crashing halt...  Pterodactyls do not evolve into Allosaurs which do not evolve into Mammoths.   It's possible that you might get an Allosaur evolving up to a Tyrannosaurus, or a Mastodon evolving up to a Mammoth. 

But that seems dubious.   We note that the ‘primates’ of Caspak work their way up an ancestral pecking order.   Thus, the highest of Caspak humans might count all the pre-human forms in his ancestry....  But certainly, no human ever counted a Mammoth or Allosaur in his lineage.   No, the most workable assumption is that Caspak's peculiar evolution is confined to the apparent hominids.

There is a peculiar anomaly with respect to hominids reproduction, it appears that all of the different levels of hominid are laying eggs in the warm pools.   This raises the odd possibility that hominids may lay eggs which eventually evolve into a higher form of being than they themselves.  If this is the case, then it suggests that the ‘evolutionary’ progression is locked into the genetic code of these hominids.

If they are hominids.....

But then, what else can they be?   The higher levels of the Lu are indistinguishable from human.   These are creatures with human proportions, skin tones, facial features, secondary sex characteristics, with language and technology and animal husbandry.    Except for their peculiar reproduction, they are human in every conceivable respect.

And yet, their peculiar reproduction sets them apart, and suggests that they are actually something else.  But what?


An Amphibian Origin?

Frogs dammit!   They're frogs!!!

Let's take a careful look at that notion.    Frogs, even modern common frogs, already have human-ike proportions.   They have long legs in proportion to their arms, similar proportions as in humans.   Their front paws have splayed fingers, almost like hands, and their back paws feature long digits.   In the Amazon, frogs are arboreal tree climbers, hence they exist in the same realms as primates.

So, it might be possible that frogs, with millions upon millions of years to work with, managed to evolve giant tree climbing or jungle forms the size of humans or larger.   It's also remotely possible that with uninterrupted evolution and no competition, frogs might evolve bipedal upright walkers, which would result in a roughly human-like creature.   Ultimately, its just loosely possible that frogs might evolve a human-like intelligence.

I'll admit, it's a long shot.   There's a lot of evolving that frogs would have to do.   They're making do, for instance, with comparatively primitive two chambered hearts.   They are cold blooded creatures, which limits the metabolic energy available to them.  Their lungs are not terribly efficient, amphibians employ a ‘throat pump’ to push air in and out of lungs, while reptiles innovated the bellows lungs we have today.   So a human sized frog would be quite handicapped.   There have been in pre-history, amphibians that reached human sizes or far greater, but by and large, we have to assume that these creatures were relatively slow.  Sudden spurts of energy would be compensated by long periods of rest and inactivity.

We should not consider the primitive features of modern amphibians to be definitive of amphibians biological limitations.  For one thing, these ‘primitive features’ have served them well in their present forms and niches, they've managed to outlast both Dinosaurs and Giant Mammals and may well outlast us. 

And in fact, during the Permian period, before the ascension of the Dinosaurs, several known species of Amphibian reached lengths of three to six feet, with a few giants of ten to fifteen feet.  They coexisted with and competed effectively with their reptile cousins.  The only true limitation was their method of egg laying.   Move to hard shelled eggs, and they are automatically reptiles.   The Permian Amphibians suggest that they were quite capable of sophisticated adaptations.

Among the remarkable permian forms was a sailback Amphibian, Platyhystrix, which coexisted with the reptilian sailbacks like Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus.   There was also an armored form, Peltobrachus, which resembled an armadillo.   Paracyclotosaurus was an eight foot creature resembling a crocodile.   Another near crocodilian, Eogyrinus, reached lengths of fifteen feet.   Diadectes, at only ten feet but with a massive frame, was one of the heaviest animals alive during its period, it was the first known amphibian herbivore and contemporary with reptile herbivores.
In short, during their heyday in the Permian period, they did quite interesting things.

Of course, the Permian Reptiles gradually but steadily forced them out of their niches, so however advanced the Amphibians became, the Reptiles were matching or more than matching.   In the late Permian period, for instance, many of the Amphibian forms were becoming armoured, obviously as adaptations against Reptilian predators.

It's interesting to speculate as to how Amphibians might have continued to evolve, if not pushed out by Reptiles.   Perhaps on some ancient equivalent of Madagascar or Australia, an Amphibian population free of reptiles was able to evolve remarkable forms.  Or would such creatures evolve without competition from Reptiles?   Would they simply lay there?  Or would they produce forms that would or could have endured the inevitable onslaught?   It is notable that the earliest frogs originate from Madagascar.


How Could Frogs Seem Human, and Why Would They Bother?

The big obstacle to the frog theory is the limits of parallel evolution.   It's quite possible that in some sufficiently isolated tropical biological laboratory, frogs produced a parallel to hominids, possibly even semi-intelligent or intelligent parallels.   Possible, though not necessarily probable.

But there's normally a limit to parallel evolution.   Sharks and Dolphins share a body shape from parallel evolution.   No one will ever mistake them.   Parallel evolution is very good at general forms.   It's terrible with the fine details, sometimes spectacularly so...  A kangaroo is parallel evolution's idea of a deer.   So our frog man is not likely ever to be mistaken for a human.
Except that there is one evolutionary or adaptive feature which might come into play.   Batesian Mimicry.   This is the phenomena where, in order to escape or dissuade predators, one animal evolves to resemble another animal or object.   There are numerous examples of this in the insect world...  Insects that have evolved to resemble leaves or sticks, or flies which have evolved to resemble wasps.   The phenomenon is not well known among vertebrates, but there are fish that seem to engage in it, and vertebrates are well known for camouflage.

So, if we have a ‘frog man’, it is possible that our ‘frog men’ have been evolving to resemble humans, even to the point where they could pass for humans.   Why or how? 

Because hominids, beginning with Australopithecus or Homo Erectus may have practiced their own natural selection - creatures that looked humanoid, but not human enough, might be killed.   Those that looked human enough might be spared or even protected.   A greater resemblance to humanity might facilitate surviving encounters.   A great enough resemblance might enable one to obtain support and protection, it might offer a ‘frog man’ safety within a human village or tribe.

Primates of all sorts have complex social behaviour.   Even non-human primates, apes or monkeys, will tend to be territorial, particularly against rival apes or monkeys of their own species, but also against competing apes or monkeys of other species.   On the other hand, they are tolerant and supportive of members of their own band or troop, even while aggressive towards other bands and troops.   Moreover, they will admit new outside members to their troop, or tolerate outsiders in certain situations.

Wandering males may be evicted from one monkey troop, and eventually find acceptance in another.  Among Baboons, subordinate males or females can be adopted.  Meanwhile, in the case of a solitary ape like the Orangutang, adult males will drive all other adult males from their territory, while being hospitable to subordinate or juvenile males, and particularly subordinate to females.   Among known stone age human groups, foreign females were often incorporated into social groups, and in fact, were actively stolen.

So, a sufficiently humanoid bufoid, sufficiently resembling either a subordinate or juvenile male, or a female might well manage to insert itself into a primate band, obtaining the safety of the troop and the protection of the more powerful members.   It would never be an apex creature, dominant males and females tend to oppose rivals trying to join, and anyway, the life of a dominant is feet first.

True hominids would probably be far more efficient and effective than bufoid humanoids.   In direct competition, the frog men would lose out, so rather than being beaten, they were joining.   As well, hominids were swiftly becoming apex predators and dominating regions in which they existed.  So imitating humans might well cut down on pressure from other predators, and improve the eating by sharing in human kills.   Under the right circumstances, the adaptive pressure to copy humans might have been quite strong and quite effective.

And likely, it occurred over a vast period of time.   The hominids of Caspak appear to adopt a series of guises, from australopithecine to homo erectus to neandertaloid to true human.   This may imply that the mimicry has been going on for millions of years.   It is likely that in nature alongside hominid communities, the amphibian dopplegangers would zero in on whatever evolutionary stage the hominids were, passing through previous forms quickly and imperceptibly. 

In isolation, without a hominid population to imitate, they may well pass through each stage more deliberately.   Lacking biological or social cues, the amphibian humanoid probably spends time in each accumulated stage before moving on.

So what about the various handicaps?   It might be possible for the amphibians to move to bellows lungs, or improve a throat pump to the point where its appearance and function are similar.   It seems unlikely that they would make the leap from cold blooded to warm blooded, but then again, Caprona is permanently wet, humid and warm due to its inverted bowl shape and volcanic heating, so in fact, being cold blooded may not be as much of a handicap here.  The Caprona environment may well be perfect for amphibian para-hominids.


Textual Evidence to Support the Amphibian Theory

Is there any evidence to support this elaborate contention?   Well, apart from the fact that the females lay vast quantities of eggs in the water, which then hatch as fish, morph into tadpoles and eventually lose their tails to become land dwellers?    Some...

For one thing, Burroughs himself seems uncomfortable characterizing his creatures as fully human.  Burroughs himself repeatedly refers to the egg spawn as tadpoles and makes direct reference to the life cycle of frogs. 

“From the egg, then, the individual developed slowly into a higher form, just as the frog's egg develops through various stages from a fish with gills to a frog with lungs. “   (Out of Time's Abyss, Chapter 3)

When describing Ajor, a  native Galu female encountered by Thomas Billings, one of the outsiders, Billings refers to her as in peculiar terms:

“She was quite the most wonderful animal that I have ever looked upon, and what few of her charms her apparel hid, it quite effectively succeeded in accentuating.”   (The People that Time Forgot, Chapter Two)


Behavioural Evidence of Non-Human Nature

But another clue might be in the ‘instinctual’ nature of the Capronans intelligence.   When they move from one stage to the next, they do not need to be taught skills.   Instead, they simply know by instinct.   Hardwired or instinctive abilities to use tools at certain stages of development may be more symptomatic of a doppleganger creature, than a true human.   For this, let us consider the words of Tomar, a recently ascended warrior:

"Last night, in the very middle of the night, the call came to me. Like that it came into my head"  -- and he struck his hands together smartly once -- "that I had risen. I have been waiting for it and expecting it for a long time; today I am a Kro-lu. Today I go into the coslupak" (unpeopled country, or literally, no man's land) "between the Band-lu and the Kro-lu, and there I fashion my bow and my arrows and my shield; there I hunt the red deer for the leathern jerkin which is the badge of my new estate.”  (The People That Time Forgot, Chapter 4)

This is a peculiar thing.  For this man, he does not possess the skills or knowledge to make and use bow and arrows as a Band-lu.   Yet, he will not learn these skills from other Kro-lu.  Rather, in order to join the Kro-lu, he has to demonstrate these skills at the outset.   It appears that the tool making or tool using skills are innate with the transformation, not requiring learning at all.   Essentially, this is tool making instincts refined to a high degree.   Social behaviours also seem to be hardwired into them:

"But why do you wish to kill me?" I asked.   He (Tomar) looked puzzled and finally gave it up. "I do not know," he admitted. "It is the way in Caspak. If we do not kill, we shall be killed, therefore it is wise to kill first whomever does not belong to one's own people. This morning I hid in my cave till the others were gone upon the hunt, for I knew that they would know at once that I had become a Kro-lu and would kill me. They will kill me if they find me in the coslupak;   .....It was difficult to bring myself to take a human life. I could feel no enmity toward this savage barbarian who acted almost as wholly upon instinct as might a wild beast, (The People That Time Forgot, Chapter 4)

This automatic or instinctive motivation to kill rivals or outliers confuses the new Kro-lu.  He doesn’t understand why he needs to do this, he simply accepts the instinct. 

And in fact, instinct may be the only way Caspak can work.   Assuming that each Caspakian comes up individually, then there is almost no room for human social development.   Human society is built around families, around the need to protect and nurture children.   The generational bonds hold primate societies together, thus the dominant units in monkey societies are mother/daughter bonds, which can extend even unto grandmothers.  Sons are affiliated with mothers among monkeys, while fathers are the most peripheral members of society.  Among baboons, troops are organized around powerful dominant males, their females, and then subsidiary males and juveniles.   Among humans, complex lines of kinship, parentage and family ties are the social glue holding communities together.

By and large, at the core of any primate society are individuals who are closely related, who are born one from another, or who grew up closely together at the same time.   In Caspak, however, no individual can be sure of being closely related to any other individual.  Nor will any individual necessarily grow and mature with or on the same schedule as any other individual, they are all on separate journeys.

There is not even the minimum need for a commitment of male and female to raise young.  Even birds find this commitment necessary to build their nests, care for their eggs and eventually feed their hatchlings.   Among Caspakians, all a female does is drop some eggs in the pool in the morning and then gets on with her day.   There seems little motivation to bond a male and female strongly or for any length of time.

"It will do them no good," remarked the man, a trace of excitement in his voice. "It will do them no good, for the lion will wait until they come out and take as many as he can carry away; and there is one there," he added, a trace of sadness in his tone, "whom I hoped would soon follow me to the Kro-lu. Together have we come up from the beginning." 

This may seem evidence of enduring commitment.  But look again, To-Mar is quite prepared to follow his instinctive programming and leave So-Al behind.  Further, he shows only mild and a rather intellectualized regret at her imminent passing.   This is a woman who has been his companion ‘from the beginning’ literally, through several incarnations, but he can only manifest a ‘trace’ of sadness.

On the other side of the coin, there is a decided lack of motivation for adults to teach skills.   Parents teach their children, adults teach adopted juveniles.   Among Caspakians, there are no children, there are only ‘newly ascended’, who have no discernible filial relationship with their older peers.   Among primate societies, culture, including language and tool use, is transmitted between linked generations.  Among Caspakians, there are no linked generations, simply a lot of unrelated individuals passing through.   Ultimately, Caspakians of a group are effectively strangers to each other, fellow travellers without sentimental ties, but not true friends or companions.

“Twice were members of his band mauled, and one was killed by a huge and bellicose rhinoceros; but the instant the action was over, it was as though it never had occurred. The dead man was stripped of his belongings and left where he had died;” (The People that Time Forgot, Chapter 5)

Based on this then, it seems remarkable that the Caspakians group socially at all.   Yet, not only is each level of Caspakian an increasingly sophisticated tool user, but their linguistic and social capabilities grow as well, and not just grow, Caspakians seem driven to associate in bands, tribes and villages of their own kind just as automatically as they show hostility to outsiders.  And this despite the lack of inbuilt social dynamics of child rearing or intergenerational ties that holds most human and animal societies together.

So, given this set up, it appears that the Caspakians basic behaviours are strongly driven by instinct.  They can reason, they betray human emotions, they are self motivated.  But core motivations and skills appear to be hardwired.

Is this human behaviour?   Are hominids feasibly hard wired to this extent, or capable of being hard wired?   I don't believe so.  Outside of Caspak, instinctual drives to this degree seem absent from humans.  On the other hand, lower animals, like amphibians, may have a very high degree of complex instinctive behaviour wired into them. 

The Caspakians instinctual wiring suggests that they are imitating human behaviours.   Indeed, the wiring seems expressly designed to imitate and *infiltrate* human societies.   Thus, Tomar says:

“so will the Kro-lu (kill me) if they come upon me before I have won my Kro-lu weapons and jerkin.”   (People That Time Forgot, Chapter 4)

In other words, Tomar needs his weapons and jerkin in order to win acceptance in Kro-lu society.  He must be able to pass first, as a member of society, before he can join society.   That’s an intriguing distinction.  Most individuals become members of society by slowly learning its rules.   Only an infiltrator learns the rules before he attempts to join.

In short, To-Mar evolves into a higher form, and then goes about obtaining the tools and accoutrements that will allow him to insert himself into a group of other individuals of this higher form.   Essentially, instinctive mimicry.


Returning to Pellucidar

Of course, if this theory is correct, we have a problem.   There are no true humans left on Caspak before our band of castaways.    So, apparently, the Lu people, even if they began as giant evolved humanoid frogs, could not have mimicked a race that did not exist for them.

Nor is there any real evidence of such a race of human-mimics existing anywhere on the outside world, or in outer Earth's fossil history.   And in fact, it would seem difficult for such a species to evolve even to humanoid levels in the fierce and extinction ridden environments of the outer world.

So, in order for this mimicry to have emerged, certain conditions must take place. 

First, the humanoid frogs must have had a sheltered biological and ecological ‘island’ to have emerged.  Something along the size of Madagascar or New Zealand, someplace so remote that not even reptiles appeared there until the Amphibians were able to at least begin to defend themselves.  Perhaps this was indeed primeval Caprona, or perhaps Antarctica, some ancient Madagascar, or even some Pellucidarean land.

We note that the original frogs seem to have evolved in Madagascar, which has, from time to time, been separated for tens of millions of years from the African mainland.   The current separation of fifty or sixty million years brought a wonderland of giant tortoises, lemurs and birds.   Perhaps there was a previous period of separation that resulted in an Amphibian kingdom.

Second, this species must have avoided catastrophic extinction and survived long enough to coexist with and occupy the same habitats as hominid species for millions of years, for adaptive mimicry to flourish.

And third, given that the mimics continue to reproduce several hominid forms in succession, it would seem that during the period of mimicry, several of the hominid forms must have coexisted or continued to coexist.  Or else the mimics would have refined their mimicry and dispensed with obsolete forms.

It seems likely that the evolution of mimicry took place in Pellucidar.   If the humanoid frogs evolved in Madagascar during a previous period of separation, the timing is wrong.  The joining of their paradise with Africa, and the waves of extinction, would have taken place during the era of the dinosaurs.   This would have been forty or fifty million years before any significant higher primates had evolved, and would have lead right into the period of planetary mass extinctions.   After the end of the dinosaur era, Madagascar separated again, and new fauna developed.   If the humanoid frog had managed to survive Africa at all, it surely would have re-established itself in Madagascar.   The most likely outcome is that the humanoid frog quickly became extinct.

On the other hand, Pellucidar is a planetary reservoir of species extinct topside, and its geology and geography tends to work against species extinction.   The result is that there are a lot of niches occupied by living fossils.  The Frog would or could have survived there.

And of course, in Pellucidar, all of the hominid species survive as living fossils.   So in fact, a frog that learned to mimic hominids would need to maintain the full suite, rather than just the current edition.

We've previously speculated that the anomalies in Caprona's animal populations can be resolved by postulating an Pellucidarean origin.    Equally, Pellucidar seems to be the likely origin point for the adaptations that would lead to this mimic species.


The Anomaly of the Wieroos
In another paper, I speculated that the Wieroos are not themselves hominids, but may be representatives of an extinct Australian line of Marsupials who evolved to parallel primates and raptors.   That paper looked at the Wieroos themselves in isolation, without addressing the other anomalies of Caprona.

In the context of this paper, another theory presents itself:    That the Wieroos may represent another line or development of the humanoid frog.   Certainly Wieroo behaviour appears to be at least as, or more instinctually driven than the rest of Caspak's ‘Lu’ people.

Are the Wieroo a sub-race of Caspak's Lu?   Well, if so, it appears that they have completely abandoned adaptive mimicry.   By their wings and their appearance, they would be completely unable to infiltrate human society.   However, the evolution of flight might seem to be a trade off.

Certainly, if the Wieroo are evolved flying amphibians, the variety of human-like features and instinctive behaviours suggest that they evolved fairly late in the Lu evolutionary history.   This seems fairly peculiar, as species late in their evolutionary history tend to be settled in their ways.  It is generalized species that produce new forms, not highly specialized ones, and the Lu were highly specialized.

On the other hand, the seminal adaptation of Wieroo wings, probably modified ribs, is documented with several varieties of lower reptiles only.   It may be that because of physiological similarities, such an adaptation may have been easier among amphibians.

And in fact, there might even be an adaptive reason why amphibian Wieroo would begin to evolve such a structure:   Heat regulation.   Amphibian evolution already includes a prehistoric sailback form.   By developing ribs as small ‘wings’, the proto-Weiroo could have regulated their temperature more effectively.   Too cold, then turn the wings to face the sun and they'd help warm up the body more quickly.  Too hot, turn at right angles and shed heat.  They'd even have an advantage over sailbacks in that the wings could be folded or wrapped around the body to avoid unnecessarily shedding heat.   Given modern amphibians penchant for some limited skin respiration, they may have obtained extra oxygen from these proto-wings.   Oxygen exchange may have actually been the reason for early flapping, using the proto-wings as a kind of external lung.

Of course, such an adaptation would mean that mimicry is no longer necessary, and that there are no longer true humans, or at least, no longer so many true humans as to make mimicry useful.  This implies that the Wieroo may have actually evolved in Caprona, or some other isolated area of Pellucidar.

Over time, the expansion of the wings, particularly where gravity was lower, as it might be in Pellucidar, might have translated into gliding and even flying abilities.  This would, of course, have required a series of rapid adaptations.

There is, however, one big problem with this:   Amphibians as cold blooded, two chambered, low respiration creatures just do not have enough energy for powered flight.   And the Wieroo, within their limits, are powerful flyers.   Not only are they huge as flying creatures go, among the largest and most massive flyers on record on the surface (Pellucidar, notably, has produced equally or even more massive flyers, and the Caprona pterodactyls are comparably gigantic), but they have a range of several miles, and they are able to carry weights as heavy as themselves.   That takes a lot of energy.   Of the three known vertebrate flyers, two, the birds and bats, are clearly warm blooded.  The third, the pterosaurs, are believed to have been warm blooded.

I'm prepared to speculate that given the right conditions and adaptations, cold blooded amphibians may be able to produce large creatures which mimic humans.   For all its dynamism, a human is a relatively slow ground walking creature, so an imitation might not be outside of the energy requirements of a cold blooded creature...  Particularly in a hot humid environment.   On the other hand, I'm very reluctant to speculate that cold blooded amphibians could manage the energy levels necessary for powered flight demonstrated by the Wieroo.

Which may imply that both Wieroo and Lu are hot blooded amphibians?   Not out of the question, I suppose, since the reptilian dinosaurs and mammal like reptiles mastered warm bloodedness.  But if so, it's a hell of a leap.   Again, not out of the question, since the Lu line of Amphibians would have been evolving away quietly since the Permian period.   But then again, it is far from proven.

The Wieroo penchant for using Lu for reproduction might be evidence for relationships.   If indeed that Wieroo males are actually impregnating Lu females with chromosomes that are dominant to Lu recessives, then the offspring of such unions would apparently be Wieroo.  And actual chromosomal mixing would mean that the Wieroo and Lu were effectively the same species.

On the other hand, if as speculated in my paper on the Wieroo, that it is actually female marsupial Wieroo implanting their young inside hosts, would the Lu form an adequate environment?   It's notable that at one point, a Wieroo refers to a Lu female as a snake.  This implies that the Wieroo considers the Lu a completely different sort of creature and may be drawing a warm blood/cold blood distinction.   I would imagine that if the Wieroo were mammalian, it might prefer a mammalian host.   On the other hand, if the Lu maintain a stable body temperature and if the Wieroo offspring are adapted to be parasitic, it may work.

Finally, as a normal rule, one tends to expect that similar proximal species will be related.   Thus if we see two kinds of monkeys in a South American jungle, we would expect that they would be far more closely related to each other than to an Orangutan or Lemur.    So, on that basis, we might be justified in inferring a kinship between Lu and Wieroo.

On the other hand, Caprona is the original mix and match ecology, with completely unrelated species sitting side by side.   The Lu apparently wound up in an isolated area that humans could not enter.   Possibly they did so as eggs and tadpoles, given Caprona's geology of volcanically driven underground rivers.   The Wieroo would have been able to establish themselves by flying over geographical barriers that kept out true humans.

Folklore and linguistics provide contradictory evidence.   The legends of the Lu people seem to place the Wieroo as one of their own species, growing up beside them, and tracing the evolution from small winged folks to actual flyers.   On the other hand, the Wieroo name appears phonetically unrelated to the other racial names of the hominids and primates, all of which end in the suffix Lu.   This suggests that the Wieroo may not be Lu.   Or perhaps ‘roo’ is a phonetic variant on ‘Lu.’    The two races speak a common language, but then again, that language in all probability is not common to either of them.

As to what the Wieroo are, I can describe four hypothesis:   1) They are a recent offshoot of the human line;   2) They are a highly adapted Australian marsupial primate/raptor line; 3) They're an unaccountably human seeming culmination of a reptilian draco line; 4) They're a flying offshoot of the Amphibian hominid-mimic Lu.

In the past, others have made cases for (1), but I remain skeptical.  There is a case to be made for (3).   For myself, I have made and prefer (2) but can see a case for (4).  I would happily invite a knock down debate among the various possibilities.


Conclusion

Generally, my rule is that if it looks like a human, walks like a human, talks and smells like a human, has sex like humans, is human in fine details and reproduces with humans, then its definitely a human.   Barring reproduction, however, I still tend to argue that the species is human, unless there is some compelling reason not to.

Essentially, the difference between a human-like creature and a human must be so profound and critical on some level, that we cannot easily account for this difference by normal adaptive processes.    Thus a hairy person or a blue skinned person, a person with gigantic ears or bug eyes, or diminutive or gigantic stature is 99.9999% probability a true genetic human, or at least human derived.   Looked at the other way, most of the ape men, mangani, saggoths that Burroughs heroes encounter are also on the human line, but from the other direction.

But then, when you get a six armed creature or an egg laying creature or a prehensile tailed creature, that's where the problem comes in.   Such a creature would seem, at the outset, to be non-human.  But the problem is, if it reproduces the fine details of humanity, how do we explain this?

I've written of the Don peoples of Pal-Ul-Don, arguing that they are derived from New World Monkeys.   This works, in essence, because the New World Monkeys themselves exhibit many shared primate traits that go into the human makeup:   Lips, forehead, shell like ears, flat faces, eyebrows, even nipples and breasts in the appropriate places and in some cases an orientation of secondary sexual characteristics to the chest.   So it is not unlikely that were New World Monkeys to produce a prehensile tailed humanoid, it could evolve to a quite human appearance.

On my previous discussion of the Wieroo, I carefully charted the evolutionary pressures which would result in a nocturnal Marsupial version of a raptor coming to resemble a primate and even a human, and the conditions which would result in intelligence and society.

With this paper, I have tried to come to grips with the nature of the Lu people.   Their nature, specifically their generation by water laid unshelled eggs, their emergence as tadpoles, their morphology from fish, amphibian, and primate and hominid forms, their lack of underlying social drivers and their highly instinct ridden behaviour convinces me that they are not truly human.

Having reached that conclusion, I have tried to explain what they are, where they come from, how they may have developed and what sort of place they inhabit.   I hope that my comments have provided fodder for thought and reflection.

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