Earth-Born: Some Speculations on the Origins of Humanoid Species in Doctor Who

Has anyone seen the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which the Enterprise crew discover that the widespread existence of humanoids in the galaxy is due to the seeding of planets with engineered DNA by an ancient race of humanoids, in effect the original humanoids?  A very neat way of explaining what was in reality due to production budget restrictions. The recent prequel to the Alien film series, Prometheus, uses a similar conceit to link Humanity to the Engineers.

Well I wondered if a similar device might not be used to explain the dominance of humanoids in the Doctor Who universe. The Classic series had incredibly tight budget constraints as we know, but the revived series has been rather more lavish with its spending and has the advantage of relatively cheap CGI at its disposal. And indeed there has been more creativity expressed in creature design, but at the same time there have been aliens which appear to be basically human, such as the Sto (Voyage of the Damned).

Inspired by the events of A Good Man Goes To War, I have a theory…



The Whoniverse is clearly a Multiverse-Based Continuity. In addition to the “primary” universe in which the Doctor lives (N-Space, or “Normal Space”), there are countless parallel universes which are essentially divergent timelines branching off from a primordial parent. There are also more alien universes existing alongside it, such as E-Space and the bubble universe occupied by House (The Doctor’s Wife). All universes in the Whoniverse are separated by a hostile interstitial region known as The Void, or The Howling.

Prior to the creation of N-Space in the Big Bang, other entities existed. Omnipotent aliens called the Eternals entered N-Space from elsewhere and were regarded as gods by many ancient cultures. Two of their number may well have assumed the roles of the Black and White Guardians and established themselves as universal caretakers. The demonic entity known as the Beast, and its child, Abaddon, predate the birth of N-Space, as did the mysterious Disciples of Light which imprisoned Him.

The earliest history of N-Space saw the emergence of creatures such as the Weeping Angels, the Carrionites, the Racnoss, the Osirians, the Reapers, the Fendhal and The Great Vampires. Non-humanoid or only semi-humanoid, these races lived, swarmed and devoured during a time when the universe must have seemed like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story.

I am not going to relate the early history of Time Lord civilisation here because there is plenty of expanded universe and non-continuity fan material that seeks to do that. They may have been the first human-looking humanoid species to appear, though a vaguely humanoid template had emerged (q.v. Rupert Sheldrake’s admittedly fringe-but-interesting theory of morphic resonance). It does seem that “Gallifreyan” and “Time Lord” are not synonymous, the latter being an elite ruling order within Gallifreyan society. I like to believe that some of the more physiological characteristics of the Time Lords, such as their binary vascular system, are common to their entire Gallifreyan species, whereas the psychic and Artron-energy powers are specific to the Time Lords themselves. It was the early Time Lords who lead an alliance which all-but destroyed the Great Vampires and the Racnoss, while the Eternals themselves banished the Carrionites to the Howling. The Time Lords then proceeded to impose a form of order on the universe – having originally worshipped the Eternals as gods, they seemed to supercede them over eons, except for the two Guardians themselves.

Earth And Humanity

The planet Earth (also known as Terra or Sol 3)  formed around a Racnoss vessel which survived the purge of its kind during the Dark Times (The Christmas Invasion). Improbably, there were three other life-bearing planets in Earth’s solar system – Mars (the original home of the Ice Warrior civilisation), Mondas (a twin to Earth) and a planet between Mars and Jupiter on which the Fendhal evolved.

How life arose on these other worlds is unknown, but it was triggered on Earth by the explosion of a Jagaroth spacecraft (City of Death).  Reptilian humanoids or Homo Reptilia emerged on Earth as its first native sentient race, but the planet occupied a pivotal place in Space-Time (for reasons I shall divulge) and had already begun to attract visits from alien species, such as the Fendhal. Meanwhile, on Mondas, a technologically-advanced species almost indistinguishable from future Humanity had appeared – the capture by Earth’s gravity of a new moon drove Homo Reptilia into subterranean hibernation even as it spun Mondas out of orbit and into deep space. At some point, the Martian Ice Warrior culture also abandoned its homeworld, and at an unidentified future point Homo Reptilia acquire space travel and abandon Earth – with or without Humanity’s knowledge or assistance is not yet revealed. The Time Lords themselves placed the Fifth Planet and the Fendhal in a time loop to eliminate the danger they posed.

Homo Sapiens Sapiens, or Humanity, evolved more-or-less naturally (save for some tinkering by various alien visitors) in the wake of Homo Reptillia’s departure. Rising to dominate the planet and developing increasingly advanced technology, Humanity attracted escalating extraterrestrial attention as its Space-Time significance grew more obvious, leading the Time Lords to take special measures to protect it.

The Future


Triggered by the Dalek Invasion of 2010, Humanity eventually spreads across the stars and embarks on a convoluted future-history during which Earth is abandoned and re-colonised, and the species itself takes control of its own genetic destiny to adopt a spectrum of adaptations and characteristics (New Earth). Though various interstellar empires have existed in Humanity’s future history, no doubt cultural and political fragmentation occurred, indeed was inevitable given the scale and distribution of the species. Many of the humanoid species encountered by the Doctor in the far future could indeed be humans modified or evolved over eons.

The critical event, and the core of my speculation, concerns the discovery by Humanity of Time Travel in the far future. Using technology such as the Vortex Manipulator, time travel is initially under official control, utilised by organisations such as the Time Agency for law enforcement purposes. But… what if the technology eventually escapes control by government agencies and is acquired by others?

Imagine: First explorers begin to time travel in pursuit of knowledge. Then others do the same in search of fame and fortune. Eventually, groups of humans (families, cultural groups, political factions, religious orders, criminal fugitives) flee across time to avoid persecution or to seek freedom and independence that can no longer be found simply by establishing a colony on some remote planet. The Time Agency may well have had as part of its remit a mission to track down and eliminate such ventures. But with the size of a future human population, scattered across thousands of future colony planets, one can imagine a considerable number of unsanctioned, illegal colonies being founded in the distant past, perhaps too many for the Time Agency to discover and track. How many seemingly ancient human-like aliens from the Doctor Who cannon might not be descended from Human time travelers? Sto, Mondas, Minyos, Peladon, Skaro, countless others. Any physical variations can be explained by divergent evolution or genetic manipulation – even the Sontarans can be seen as engineered clones descended from human time travelers. So much time could have passed that they forgot their origins, or if recalling them, they simply didn’t get mentioned in the course of the Doctor’s adventures. This would certainly explain the Space-Time echoes radiating from Earth, drawing all manner of alien powers to the planet as Humanity becomes not only pivotal to the universe’s future, but to its past. In fact, why else would a cruise liner from Sto bother taking tourists to see early 21st century Earth?

Gallifrey And The Time Lords


But here’s the clincher. We know that traveling in time will eventually cause biological changes to adult humans if exposure to the Time Vortex is sufficiently prolonged – Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith and Martha Jones all exhibited minor but real changes from their time on the TARDIS. Then we have Melody Pond. Conceived during Amy and Rory’s wedding night on the TARDIS, Melody’s genetic structure was altered in utero by the mercurial energies of the Time Vortex. The Doctor acknowledged that the evolution of his distant ancestors was altered in a similar way, though he said that for them it took many generations. However, how many ancient Gallifreyans were actually conceived  in the Vortex? Early exposure in utero  may well have produced an exaggerated mutation in Melody, granting her superhuman strength and regenerative powers.

So imagine this: One band of human malcontents flees further back in time than anyone has ever traveled, far further in fact, by accident or design, to the dreaded and legendary Dark Times.  Out of control, they crash on a habitable planet, located in a binary star system within the constellation of Kasterborous, at galactic coordinates ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two from galactic zero center, which is some 250 million light years away from Earth. This would put it far outside our Milky Way galaxy, which is about a hundred thousand light years in diameter, and indeed outside the Local Group and even the Virgo Supercluster; however, at this distance it would still be within the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex. They emerge either through a natural spacetime rift or a rift torn open by their craft’s crash landing.

The extended, traumatic journey so far back in time has altered their DNA far more than any human had previously experienced, and some of the colonists may have been pregnant. The potential for psychic abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis and most importantly time sensitivity, has been laid down in their genes, as well as adaptations to resist the high level of Artron Radiation they had been exposed to. Physiological variations such as the binary vascular system may have already existed (the fruits of genetic engineering on a specific population group in the far future). The power of regeneration, perhaps in a less evolved form, was a potential present if not exhibited in those colonists who were conceived but unborn during their parents’ journey – they are not merely resistant to Artron Radiation, they have the potential to tap or generate it, channeling the energy to power cellular renewal.

Naming their world Gallifrey, the human colonists revert to primitivism to survive. Somehow they become aware of, and begin to worship, the Eternals. A certain proportion of the population is able to develop their psychic abilities, founding various elite social classes, and the specetime rift, or “Untempered Schism”, becomes a central feature of their evolving culture. Their semi-legendary cultural heroes are those great warriors who not only display great strength, cunning and seemingly magical powers, but can also survive mortal injury through spontaneous regeneration. Over time, their technological sophistication recovers and accelerates, and their focus on the Untempered Schism both continues the mutations amongst the cultural elite and leads to the eventual rediscovery of time travel (probably accelerated by reverse-engineering their ancient colony vessel or by insights gained from the Schism itself). Genetic engineering may well also have been rediscovered and could explain the anatomical differences between baseline Humans and Gallifreyans, if those features hadn’t already been introduced, and the ongoing controlled refinements of their Vortex-born mutations.

Eventually, the order of the Time Lords is founded by Rassilon and Omega, time sensitive heroes who create the Eye of Harmony which powers their technology. Vastly accelerated by this discovery, the fledgling Time Lords rapidly dominate Gallifrey and lead them in various campaigns against the worst creatures of the Dark Times (notably the Racnoss, the Great Vampires and the Fendhal). Overcoming various false starts and wrong paths along the way, the Time Lords begin to establish their role in the universe as guardians of the Time Vortex and preservers of N-Space’s temporal integrity (reducing incursions by the Reapers in the process – Series 1, Father’s Day). Their technology, supported by a limitless power source, develops to an almost magical degree, enabling the creation of TARDISes and, in extremis, the resurrection of the dead (Rassilon, the Master). They also refine their Vortex-derived powers, for example setting limits on the number of regenerations a Time Lord can have (twelve) but at the same time improving control over the process and retarding normal aging. The innermost cabals of Time Lord society, such as the Celestial Intervention Agency (C.I.A.) rediscover the pivotal importance of their ancestral home, Earth, and take steps to guard it.

As the Time Lords cement their position at the heart of the Time Vortex, in a manner akin to Sheldrake’s theory their biological template “echoes” or “resonates” throughout time and space. This has the effect of increasing the likelihood of semi-humanoid forms evolving independently of humanity, explaining the prevalence of this basic form and explaining Silurians, Ice Warriors and many others – basically humanoid but clearly unrelated to Humanity in any way. (So I’ve covered all the bases with my little conceit, ha ha!).

The rest, as they say, is history.

Last Words


So that is my theory, and it is mine. I do not doubt that other have arrived at it independently, but so did I. The choice of Earth as the point where the resurrected Rassilon’s schemes reach full circle in his attempt to escape the Last Great Time War has a special significance in my speculation. Indeed, all Dalek invasions of Earth can be seen from the perspective of the planet’s strategic significance to both Daleks and Time Lords – by conquering it, the Daleks seize control of their own species’ destiny (their Kaled ancestors – and the Thals for that matter – being descended from one band of time traveling human colonists) and have the opportunity to prevent their Time Lord enemies from ever arising. Take the Doctor Who movies from the 1960’s with Peter Cushing playing a Doctor who is a human inventor rather than an alien – what if it represents a divergent timeline where the Daleks have prevented the Time Lords’ existence, and the human Doctor is – unwittingly – an agent of the Time Lords’ C.I.A., manipulated across the dimensional barriers to try to correct the temporal damage? One can have a great deal of fun with this.

Anyway, I don’t think there is anything in Doctor Who continuity or even in the unofficial canon for the expanded universe (novels, comics, audio plays) which could completely contradict my theory. Regardless, the ramifications of the Time Wars, during which entire events can be erased or rewritten, do give one a fair bit of creative latitude.

So what do you think?

About Mark Winter

Dark Fantasy novelist (INFERNAL PREY). Blogging on politics and current affairs (GibberLog), science and history (BlatherLog), sci-fi, fantasy & horror (WittlerLog), business, product development & start-ups (MutterLog). View all posts by Mark Winter

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