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The Niocene Era
By Sean Phillips
Edgar Rice Burroughs invented the fictional Niocene Age for his novel the Eternal Lover, subsequently retitled The Eternal Savage. Its hero was Nu, a Cro-Magnon warrior whose beloved was Nat-ul. Nu seeks the head of the great saber tooth tiger Oo, much as the primitives of Pellucidar seek the head of a tarag to win the mate of their choice. He successfully slays the beasts after a battle royal, but ends end getting thrust back into present-day Africa where he meets with Victoria Custer, who is Nat-ul's modern incarnation. Later, Custer experiences life in the Niocence as Nat-ul, and Nu rescues her many more times. This the one notable "prehistoric" novel set not in a Lost World locale, but in the ancient past.
While it supposedly takes place in Africa, it is not the Africa of actual history. If anything, it takes place in a mythical prehistory similar to One Million B. C. or Joe Kubert's Tor, where the Age of Reptiles has over lapped into the dawning ages of Man, and beasts of different prehistoric ages intermingle. Niocence Africa very much resembles Pellucidar, and many of the same species predominate. Ice-Age fauna seems the most common, with a few Mesozoic holdovers, mainly marine and flying saurians. ERB mentions, "from the distant sea and swamp came the hissing of saurian and amphibian."
Surviving dinosaurs may lurk in the swamp, and labyrinthodont amphibians, like Pellucidar's sithic, may lurk there as well. The human inhabitants seem to be all white Cro-Magons, though with an enhanced ability for swinging through the trees. There exists on an island a race of hairy beings called "tree-people", with pig-eyes and wolf-fangs, which may be a relic population of Homo Erectus.
The great saber tooth tiger, whom Nu slays and beheads for Nat-ul. He represents essentially the same species as the giant tarags of Pellucidar. The body as as huge as a full-grown bull, gorgeously striped in brilliant gold and glossy black. The ivory slashers are fully eighteen-inches long. Burroughs greatly inflated the beast's proportions for dramatic effect.
The great cave-bear of the stone age, Ursus Spaleus, the mortal enemy of Oo.
The woolly mammoth of the ice age, not native to Africa in our own history.
The great woolly rhinoceros, Coleodonta, a native of Pleistocene Eurasia, but not Africa, in our own history.
The mighty cave-lion of the Pleistocene. Burroughs describes both sexes as being maned. According to actual cave-paintings, this species was in fact maneless.
Giant bovines, common to Europe up into historical times. Did in fact roam Africa in prehistoric times.
Giant relative of the modern hyena
A giant flying reptile, possibly actually a pterandon, possibly synonymous with the thipdars of Pellucidar. One bore Nat-ul to its nest on the island of the tree-people. Burroughs remarks that "even in Nat-ul's day they were practically extinct."
Marine reptiles still proliferate in the Niocence oceans, such as the plesiosaur that attack's Nu's boat, as he crosses the water to save his beloved. The artist above portrayed a rather fanciful representation of the beast.
The people of the Niocence, called "troglodytes" by Burroughs, are white-skinned Cro-Magnon people. There are two main cultures where Nu lives, the cave dwellers, Nu's people, and the boat-builder's Tur's people, who live on the edge f the paleolithic sea. Nu's people dress in the hides of carnivores slain in battle, while the boat-builders wear the hides of aurochs and other herbivores.
The Tree people are a relic population of some former stage of human development, who have manage to persist one of the islands. They are hideous race of creatures with fur and fangs.
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