The theme that dinosaurs (or some other pre-60-million-years-ago reptilian species of Earth) may have evolved into intelligent beings who then had an encounter with men is pretty widely used ("West of Eden", "ST: Voyager", "Dr. Who" to name 3 random examples covered on SFF alone).

Q1: What was the first SciFi/Fantasy work to include intelligent beings evolved from Earth prehistoric reptiles?

Q2: What was the first SciFi (or even Fantasy) work to include intelligent beings evolved from Earth prehistoric reptiles, with added requirement of them existing contemporaneously - and meeting - with modern or future humans? (could be the same or later work than Q1).

Limitations are:

  • They must have evolved directly from reptiles who lived 65+ million years ago on Earth. Not of extraterrestrial origin. No alien planets where humans somehow exist.

    It's fine if the species migrated OFF earth since then (ala Voyager) or even were somehow time-shifted to the future as a way to explain why they haven't met humans in the historic past. BUT, in that case, the intelligence must still have evolved while they were on Earth, in prehistoric times, before such a space/time move.

    Specifically for Q1, it's acceptable if the intelligent species went exitinct before humans arose; or if humans never evolved in the first place.

  • Pretty much any reptiles are OK (not just Dinosauria clade), with the exception of a trixy answer of "humans and all mammals evolved from Therapsids who were reptiles".

  • Intelligence must have evolved naturally during pre-historic times (e.g. before Australopitecus arose), with an entire species being intelligent (in other words, "nuclear tests made Godzilla smart" or "mad human/alien scientist raised intelligent raptor clone" one-offs don't count).

  • "Intelligent" means "tool using", at least on the level or Homo Erectus; not "Jurassic Park" level "raptors were smart".

  • Dragons (of magical fantasy type) do NOT count unless the work in question explicitly explains how they have evolved from real Earth reptiles. So no Tolkien or Le Guin.

  • It's OK if the work takes place on "alternate" Earth where Dinosaurs were not wiped out during Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event; but again the intelligence must have evolved millions of years ago.

  • It may be worth using civilisation as a bench mark of what we might consider smart/requiring of intelligence. Good question though!
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 22:49
  • @Pureferret - I considered that but was worried that "what is civilization" would be a contentious topic and possible excuse to close. "tool using" seems more specific. But feel free to edit Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 22:50
  • I'm going to be very disappointed if it turns out to be the Sleestacks from the "Land of the Lost". Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


I haven't actually read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar books, but judging from this Wikipedia description it sounds like they qualify on both counts:

Pellucidar is populated by primitive people and prehistoric creatures, notably dinosaurs. The region in which Innes and Perry initially find themselves is ruled by the cities of the Mahars, intelligent flying reptiles resembling Rhamphorhynchus [a pterosaur] with dangerous psychic powers, who keep the local tribelets of Stone Age human beings in subjugation.

It seems that the Mahars are introduced in the first book, At the Earth's Core (1914).

  • I have these books and ERB would have been my answer but alas, 3 years too late.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 21:26

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