Tag Archives: Yithians

The Nature of Ubbo-Sathla and Time Travel

Previously we discussed how Ubbo-Sathla is a seething sea of slime found on early Earth and obliviously guards the tablets of the gods. As an archetype of proto-life on Earth it is hypothesized that Ubbo-Sathla was the original material used by the Elder Things to create complex life on Earth, including the shoggoths. In fact, Ubbo-Sathla, or at least a piece of it, may have been the proto-shoggoth mentioned toward the end of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. The Elder Things arrived on Earth sometime between 4.0 and 2.5 billion years ago (S.T. Joshi, 2001). The oldest microfossils of bacteria are estimated to be as old as 3.43 billion years old, while the oldest microfossils of eukaryotic cells are estimated to be around 1.85 billion years ago (Benton, 2008). Thus, if Ubbo-Sathla was on Earth before the Elder Things, it is entirely possible that the Elder Things utilized material from Ubbo-Sathla and its sea of slime to engineer prokaryotic cells (archaebacteria and eubacteria), the more complex eukaryotic cells (plants, protists, fungi and animals) and super-eukaryotic cells (shoggoths). Additionally, the instructions or “recipe” for the creation of life from the organic sea of slime may have been inscribed on the tablets that Ubbo-Sathla was guarding.

Ubbo_brawlofcthulhu.blogspot.com           Ubbo-Sathla (from http://www.brawlofcthulhu.blogspot.com)

It has been alluded by Clark Ashton Smith that the gods who left their wisdom and lore upon the ultra-stellar stone tablets may have been residents from a previous or other universe. This suggests the hypothesis that life itself, at least on Earth, may not have originated in our universe but came from another, only to be deposited as “slime-seeds” in the form of Ubbo-Sathla. The Elder Things stumbled upon this sea of proto-life slime on Earth and used both the instructions and material to create life on Earth. This may also explain how, over the centuries, the Elder Things would have lost the ability to create life from this raw material. A combination of exhausting the supply of Ubbo-Sathla material, as well as losing the ultra-stellar stone tablets that outlined the methodology, could have easily resulted in the Elder Things losing the ability to create life.

h_p_lovecraft__s_old_one_by_coq92 The Old One, also known as an Elder Thing, by Coq92 (www.deviantart.com)

In addition to the origins and use of Ubbo-Sathla in the creation of life on Earth, a brief mention should be made of the technology associated with time travel, as experienced by Paul Tregardis with the use of the strange milky crystal. As has been discussed in past articles, time travel may only be possible through the transport of a consciousness. Removing an actual, physical entity from one portion of the timeline and depositing it into another may not be possible without either disrupting that timeline for a new one or the destruction of the traveling entity. Thus, a way around this would be to transport a consciousness through space-time and have it displace an entity living’s consciousness in that desired timeline. This methodology is employed by the Great Race of Yith in their space-time travels.

In Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time, the Yithians, in an effort to avoid extinction, moved their entire collection of minds “en masse” into an ancient species on Earth called Cone Shaped Beings (CSBs), switching physical bodies with that species. Combined this symbiotic entity was called “The Great Race.” This transfer of one species consciousness into an others was done through time as well as space; specifically, the Yithian minds flow back through time to ancient Earth to inhabit the bodies of the CSBs.

yithian_communication_m-wayne_miller               Yithian Communication by M. Wayne Miller

The Yithians were known to use strange technology, based on some type of crystalline material, to communicate with others of their kind through space-time.  Perhaps this same type of technology was used to transfer their minds through time and maybe this is what Paul Tregardis stumbled upon when he found the strange milky crystal in that curio shop in Clark Ashton Smith’s tale “Ubbo-Sathla.” What is most interesting, as I have discussed in past articles, is that this transfer of one’s collective consciousness into another vessel may be feasible for humans in the future.

In The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (Michio Kaku, 2014), Kaku states that sometime in the distant future it may be possible to “reverse engineer” the human brain (which means reproducing a product – in this case the brain – following a detailed examination of its parts) and download this consciousness into some type of supercomputer. Once a mind is digitized and downloaded into a device, it may be possible to transmit these minds into space-time on a laser beam.  As Kaku points out, trillions of pieces of digital data are transmitted routinely on laser beams via fiber-optic cables every day.  The wavelength of a laser beam is microscopic and you can compress vast amounts of information on its wave pattern; even more data can be transferred onto a beam of X-rays, which has a wavelength smaller than an individual atom (Kaku, 2014). The crystalline technology of the Yithians may do exactly this; downloading their minds into the crystal’s configuration and then using laser beams or X-rays (or even gamma rays?) to beam them into some type of controlled microscopic wormhole that opens up hyperspace and then downloads the data into another device or compatible organism.

Yithcomm_nightserpent Yith Communication by Nightserpent (www.deviantart.com)

So what happened to Paul Tregardis’s consciousness when it was transferred into Earth’s distant past? Well first, his consciousness became merged with other past consciousnesses as it traveled back through time, which may have “mudded” his consciousness signal. Second, and probably most important, is maybe Paul’s consciousness ended up being transferred into Ubbo-Sathla and the human mind is just not compatible with this entity. The result was a consciousness that lost all sense of “self” and became part of the blind spawn within the sea of slime that is Ubbo-Sathla.

ubbo_sathla_by_veniaminnavin-d7zdbjc Ubbo-Sathla by Veniaminnavin (www.deviantart.com)

Before we move onto another subject, the next article will briefly discuss the potential mechanisms that may have been utilized by the Elder Things in creating the first life on Earth with Ubbo-Sathla. Thank you – Fred.

Lovecraft’s Use of Evolution, Part 4 The Shadow Out of Time

A member of “The Great Race” by Steve Maschuck

Since “The Shadow Out of Time” has been extensively discussed in pervious articles on this site, this current article will be relatively short.  While “At the Mountains of Madness” is HPL’s origin story and interpretation of Darwinian evolution, “The Shadow Out of Time” is HPL’s example of a dramatic and radical example of natural selection.  As has been previously discussed the Great Race is a fusion of two entities or species – the Cone-Shaped Beings (CSBs) who are natives of Earth and the Yithians whose minds travel time and space, “jumping” from one corporeal species into another.

Based on HPL’s writings the CSBs are Terran in origin and not alien.  In fact the CSBs may actually be another “by-product” (similar to humans) of the Elder Things tinkering with the creation of multi-cellular, eukaryotic life on Earth.  Pervious discussions focused on whether the CSBs are some type of complex mollusk, possibly a member of the Gastropod (snails, slugs) or Cephalopod (octopus, squid) class, an unknown class of mollusk, an unknown phylum of animal life or possibly even an elaborate form of fungi.  Whatever the classification of the CSBs, it is hypothesized that like all multicellular life on Earth, Darwinian evolution gave rise to these creatures.  However, did the merging of the CSBs with the Yithian minds, thus creating the Great Race, alter their course of evolution?

pic_of_mollusk_evolution

The major types of mollusks.  Are the Cone Shaped Beings a member of this phylum of life or something completely different?  (Sharon-taxonomy2010-p2.wikispaces.com).

Very little is known about the CSBs before their merging with the Yithian minds.  Were they simple, mindless, passive fungi, exuding exoenzymes into the environment to break down and accelerate the rate of decomposition of organic matter as a source of food and energy?  Or were they fairly intelligent mollusks with the curiosity and cognitive abilities of an octopus?  We may never know.  However, once the Yithians started to occupy the CSBs – thus creating the Great Race – this “new” symbiotic species was sentient and immediately developed technology and a civilization.  Such a punctuated form of evolution has never before been documented in the history of live on Earth.

From a Darwinian point of view this creation of a new symbiotic species was like either inserting a set of beneficial genes into the species or drastically changing the environment, either one driving natural selection into another direction.  An example of this later idea can be found in the peppered moth (Biston betularia).

The peppered moth is a nocturnal moth found in England.  Prior to the industrial revolution, the majority of the peppered moths in England had light-colored wing patterns so they resembled the trees and lichens.  This form of camouflage was effective to avoid being eaten by birds.  However, after the industrial revolution was in full swing, many of the lichens died and the trees were covered with black soot.  This resulted in a shift in the gene frequency from light color pigmentation to darker colors.  Thus, over time the moth population was dominated by darker individuals since they were better adapted to be camouflaged against predators on the soot-lined trees (Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, edited by Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis, 2009).  A similar dramatic shift in the course of evolution may have occurred when the Yithian minds merged with the CSB bodies.

peppered%20moth

Peppered moths (Biston betularia) on light and dark colored trees (www.truthinscience.org.uk)

While the merging with the Yithian minds was an “internal” change in the CSBs, it does not appear to include a direct change or modification in the CSB genome.  Thus, this change operates more as a change in the environment than a change in the species genome.  However, if the merging of the Yithian minds only occurred with a sub-set of the CSB population, it may be possible that this symbiosis does end up being selective on a genetic level.  To answer this question, it needs to be known if all CSBs merged with Yithian minds or if there was some degree of selection with this symbiotic merger.

Once the CSBs had the advantage of immediately acquired intelligence, it “freed” them in a sense from many of the previous selective pressures such as competition for resources and possibly predation / parasitism.  At a minimum the creation of the Great Race substantially reduced these selective pressures.  However, new, selective pressures came into place such as the creation of communities and a civilization that interacted, and at times clashed, with others species on Earth.  Indeed, such a relatively quick change in the course of their evolution and the development of their civilization / technology must have perplexed the Elder Things.

Mike-Bukowski-yithian

Yithian by the talented artist Mike Bukowski (www.lastchanceillustration.com)

Next time we will be moving into a series of formal discussions on HPL’s “The Call of Cthulhu.”  Thank you – Fred.

 

 

The Shadow Out of Time – Part 5, Yithians and Mind Projection Technology

To date, we have focused the discussion on the physical component of the Great Race – the cone-shaped beings (CSBs) and more recently on the Flying Polyps.  However, little has been said on the Yithians, which HPL described as “beings of a dying elder world, wise with the ultimate secretes.”  Before their world ended, the Yithians found a race in the future – their future – to inhabit.  This race was the CSBs on ancient Earth.

Yithian by Hazi B

The Yithians moved their entire collection of minds “en masse” into the CSBs, switching physical bodies with that species.  This meant that the original minds of the CSBs ended up suddenly transported into the bodies of a completely unknown, alien species on the dying Yithian home world.  Nothing is known about the morphology or general appearance of the original Yithian species; it is not even know if that species was truly the original corporeal form of the Yithians.  So how was it possible for the Yithians to travel through time and space (space-time) as a “collective species consciousness” to exchange their minds with the resident minds and inhabit the CSBs?

Amazingly, such mind projection does not appear to be completely fanciful.  In Michio Kaku’s newest book, The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (2014), he describes that sometime in the future it may be possible to “reverse engineer” the brain (which means reproducing a product – in this case the brain – following a detailed examination of its parts) and download this consciousness into some type of supercomputer.

Kaku admits that such technology is generations head of our time, however not an impossibility, particularly with the work being done with “nanobot” technology that can actually manipulate matter on a molecular or even atomic basis.

So once a mind is digitized and downloaded onto a device, how does it move through space-time into a receptacle and eventually into another species?  Well it may be possible to transmit these minds into space-time on a laser beam.  As Kaku points out in his book, trillions of pieces of digital data are transmitted routinely on laser beams via fiber-optic cables every day.  The wavelength of a laser beam is microscopic and you can compress vast amounts of information on its wave pattern; even more data can be transferred onto a beam of X-rays, which has a wavelength smaller than an individual atom (Kaku, 2014).

Did the Yithians use similar technology?  Downloading their minds with the use of their  strange mechanical devices , transmitting these minds with the use of laser beams or X-rays and then using controlled wormholes to open up hyperspace and “beam” the minds into other devices or the “receptive” organisms?

Yithian Communication by M. Wayne Miller.  Did the Yithians use these devices to download a sentient being’s mind and then transmit it through space-time?

While some of these ideas of downloading your mind into a device and then transferring it through space-time into a new receptacle (whether organic or artificial) may seem very far fetched, Kaku mentions a number of times that as long as such ideas are consistent with the laws of physics, then the technological barriers (while formidable) are not impassable.  In other words, if the physicists deem it feasible, it up to the engineers to make it work and the economists to tell us if we can afford to do it!

Next time, the discussion will review some of the other species that were being studied by the Great Race in their ancient Cities.  Thank you – Fred.

Poster for the great Dark Adventure Radio Theatre’s audio drama of The Shadow Out of Time, available through the H.P. Lovecraft Historical society (www.cthulhulives.org)

The Shadow Out of Time – Part 4, Additional Notes on the Flying Polyps

Since placing the last article up on the Flying Polyps, I have had more time to think about these strange beings.  In addition, I have received a number of excellent comments on them.  Thus, this article provides some additional notes on this mysterious species.

Flying Polyp by Michael Bukowski (yog-blogsoth.blogspot.com)

As I previously mentioned, the Flying Polyps appear to be “partially” composed of the matter in our Universe.  Thus, they are not composed entirely of the same matter as humans, Elder Things, Shoggoths, Deep Ones or the Great Race.  In contrast, the Flying Polyps are not completely composed of matter from outside of our Universe like the Mi-Go or spawn of Cthulhu.  The Flying Polyps are, as I previously mentioned, “in-between” Universes; partially made of our matter and partially made of “other” matter.  Thus, in a way they are more of an enigma than something utterly alien from the outside such as the Mi-Go.

As previously mentioned, the senses of the Flying Polyps can penetrate all kinds of materials in our Universe but their bodies can only pass through certain materials.  In addition, they would frequently fly and could make whistling noises.  In contrast, there was some sort of limiting connection between them and the Earth.  In spite of frequently living and moving in the air, when on the ground the Polyps made large footprints that were composed of five circular toe marks.  In addition, the Polyps could only be imprisoned deep in the Earth.

Flying Polyp by Tryryche

While the Flying Polyps were originally predators of the Cone-Shaped Beings (CSBs), once the Yithians occupied their bodies and became the Great Race, the tables were quickly turned.  The Great Race produced technology that allowed them to subdue the Flying Polyps.  Specifically, the Great Race weapons of electrical energy would wholly destroy the Flying Polyps.  This high level of susceptibility and complete annihilation of the Polyp body due to electrical energy may provide some clues as to the make-up of their matter.

In humans and most Terran life a strong discharge of electrical energy, currents greater than 1 amp, results in permanent damage through burns and cellular damage.  Additionally, even lower currents, between 70 and 70 mA, can cause death but by triggering a fibrillation in the heart.  While such electrocution will cause death they do not “annihilate” the body as it does for the Flying Polyps.

In particle physics, the term annihilation is used to describe the result of when a subatomic particle meets or collides with its respective antiparticle.  When the particle (matter) and antiparticle (antimatter) meet, they mutually annihilate these other, typically in a flash of radiation such as a photon of light (Particle Physics:  A Very Short Introduction; Frank Close; 2004).  Given how the body of the Flying Polyp is completely destroyed and annihilated when hit with electric energy, is it possible that they are composed of an unusual semi-stable arrangement of matter and antimatter?

 Flying Polyp (by Infernalengines)

Living cells continue to live and reproduce by taking in energy, which in turn keeps cellular activities going so the cell constituents do not breakdown and decompose. A similar arrangement may be in existing for the Flying Polyps but instead of obtaining energy from a biochemical perspective, it may be from a subatomic perspective. Is it possible that Flying Polyps are a conscious or sentient form of electromagnetic fields and forces that utilize matter / antimatter repulsion to generate the energy they need to keep their quasi-cellular activities going? Maybe they extract antimatter from where they originate and need to feed on organic life, such as the CSBs, to provide “matter” fuel. In turn, this allows them to keep the matter / antimatter mix equal and thus exist. If this is the case, then the electrical discharge weapons of the Great Race may abruptly disrupt this balance between matter and antimatter, resulting in the observed annihilation of the Flying Polyps.

Yithian Hero (by Cryptdidical; Spore)

Obviously the experiments required to test such a hypothesis could be highly dangerous. However, placing a Flying Polyps into the Hadron Collider and bombarding them with various subatomic particles and anti-particles may be a relative “safe” means of testing this hypothesis. The real trick would be to get a Flying Polyp into the Collider.

In the next article the discussion will be how the Yithian move their consciousness through space and time.  Thank you – Fred.

The Shadow Out of Time – Part 3, Flying Polyps

Of all of the Lovecraftian species, the Flying Polyps may be the most “alien”, second only to the Colour Out of Space.  Very little is know about this species but what is known ominous to say the least. Flying Polyp by Paul Carrick

HPL never officially called these beings Flying Polyps; instead he loosely described them as “a horrible elder race of half-polypous, utterly alien entities.”  Frequently in The Shadow Out of Time he referred to them as “elder things.”  These beings came to our solar system about 600 million years ago to reside on Earth and three other planets (my hypothesis is that these other three planets are Mercury, Venus and Mars). While the Mi-Go and the spawn of Cthulhu were said to come from “outside” of our Universe and not be made of the same matters as we are, the Flying Polyps were said to be only partly material (as we understand matter).  Thus, it may be that the Flying Polyps are not completely from the outside but instead are from the “in-between.”

Flying Polyp by Ruud Dirven

While their senses do not include sight, they mentally perceive reality through non-visual patterns of impressions.  Thus, these senses can penetrate all material barriers but their corporal forms can not.  Basically, I think this means that they can perceive a substantially large portion of the Universe than we can with our five senses.  Additionally, the Flying Polyps can fly but do not have wings.  However, while they may sound like ghosts, they are not.  It is the strange quasi-matter of the Flying Polyps that make them susceptible to the electrical weapons of the Great Race.

When the Flying Polyps came to Earth about 600 million years ago they built large basalt cities, composed of windowless towers.  They preyed on the cone-shaped beings (CSBs) for approximately 100 million years.  However, when the Yithian minds came to Earth and inhabited the CSB bodies approximately 500 million years ago this must have been quite a shock to the Flying Polyps.  The CSBs must have been like cattle or bison to the predatory Polyps prior to the arrival of the Yithians.  Then suddenly (from a geological point of view) the CSBs now had the ability to create devastating weapons.  As HPL describes, once the CSBs became the Great Race, they used their weapons to drive the Flying Polyps into the inner Earth and were subsequently sealed and inprisoned.

The Yithian Wars (by Simiankolya)

While the Flying Polyps were defeated and imprisoned deep in the Earth, over the millennia there were concerns by the Great Race that they Flying Polyps were growing strong and increasing in numbers.  This had a strong impact on the psyche and culture of the Great Race.  Isolated incidences of escape in the outskirts of the ancient, abandoned basalt cities and mental projections into the future  led the Yithian to plan for another hyperspace jump of their species-wide consciousness.  Essentially, there was a growing fear that the Flying Polyps would eventually break free of their inner Earth prisons and overrun the Great Race via their increased numbers.

Flying Polyp from Steve Maschuck

There were two reasons why the Great Race were so fearful of the Flying Polyps.  First,  it sounds like the Great Race may have attempted to communicate with the Flying Polyps in some manner but to no avail.  However, the consciousness and perception of reality of the Flying Polyps was so different than any terrestrial organism that communication with them was impossible.  Second, the Yithian bodies were the prey of the Flying Polyps in the past.  The Great Race did not want to be back on the Flying Polyp menu and with no means of communicating with them,  the Great Race was obviously fearful that swarms of these creatures emerging from the Earth would be the end of their corporeal bodies.  Thus, the Yithians planned to collectively “jump” to another species in the future.  One thing is for sure, the Yithians appeared capable of handling the Elder Things, the Mi-Go, the spawn of Cthulhu and the serpent people.  However, they were truly terrified of the Flying Polyps.

How the Yithians make this consciousness leap from one species to another will be the topic of discussion for the next article.  Thank you.  Fred

Flying Polyp by Andreask87

The Fungi from Yith?

Very interesting “mollusk-like” interpretation of the Great Race (by Nathan Rosario)

Before moving on to other subjects such as the technology of the Great Race, the nature of Yithians, Flying Polyps and other matters, I want to wrap up my discussions on the biology of the cone-shaped beings (CSBs).  As previously noted, the CSBs are of Terran origin and have been on Earth for at least a billion years.  We have compared the general morphology of the CSBs to two classes of mollusks: the gastropods and cephalopods but have concluded, base on their age as a species, that they more than likely do not originate from either class of mollusk.

Early in Peaslee’s efforts to recount some lost, ancient memories he begins to remember the surroundings and environment.  Several times in addition to mentioning cycads, fern-like growths and conifers, he notes “fungi of inconceivable size, outlines and colours, speckled the scene in patterns bespeaking some unknown but well-established horticultural tradition.”  Thus, in addition to being populated by large, now extinct and largely unknown species of fungi, these organisms appeared to be cultivated in some manner.

Based on some additional text in HPL’s The Shadow Out of Time, the CSBs represented no known surviving or extinct species, at least known to man.  They were “of a peculiar, closely homogeneous, and highly specialized organic type inclining as much as to the vegetable as to the animal state.”  This is important since up until this point we have assumed that the CSBs are members of the Animal Kingdom – but are they?

Yithian Scribe by Richard Svensson

The Elder Things are truly of alien origin; they evolved on another world from an echinoderm-like ancestor (at least in body form).  However, the Elder Things were said to have traits of both animals and plants.  In particular HPL specifically compared many of their biological traits of the Elder Things to those of ferns (e.g. having a prothallus, spores similar to those of ferns) but this is not the case with the CSBs.

A number of traits of the CSBs suggest that they do not belong to the animal or plant Kingdom and can not even be considered some type of hybrid of the two.  For example, HPL states that:  “Nourishment, assimilated through the red trumpet-like appendages on one of the flexible limbs, was always semifluid and in many aspects wholly unlike the food of existing animals.”  Animals do not feed in this manner – but fungi do.

The Kingdom of Fungi (www.docstoccdn.com)

Plants are photosynthetic and animals ingest food particles (plants or other animals) but fungi feed by exuding exoenzymes  into the surrouinding environment, breaking down organic matter (typically dead organic matter) and then absorbing this “semifluid” material.  Thus, fungi are decomposers – breaking down dead organic material and using it as food.  This mode of feeding is typically called saprotrophy (David C. Sigee; Freshwater Microbiology, 2005).  Other non-fungal organisms have a similar mode of obtaining energy through decomposition (Sigee, 2005); some of these organisms include bacteria (the actinomycetes or actinobacteria) and some protists (such as slime molds, chytrids and oomycotes).

While all of the organisms described above have a saprotrophic mode of feeding, only the fungi are multi-cellular and complex, with a high degree of cellular differentiation.  Thus, the fungi have the highest “potential” to eventually develop into a large, complex organism.  In fact, some of the largest organisms on Earth are fungi – for example, in 2003 USFS in Oregon identified a fungus, Armillaria ostoyae, that covers an area of 2,384 acres, forming a symbiotic relationship with the resident tree roots.  Thus, fungi have the potential to be extremely large.

HPL mentioned that the CSBs reproduce through spores, but does not use any of the fern-like terminology used for the Elder Things.  In addition, the CSBs are said to reproduce through spores, as do fungi, but have no sexual reproduction.  It is possible that the CSBs are members of the Deuteromycota, which is a phylum of fungi that is not a natural grouping.  This fungal group is a “hodgepodge” grouping that have the common trait of generally lacking the structures required for typical sexual reproduction (Lynn Margulis and Karlene V. Schwartz, Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth, 1982.  Are the CSBs a unique, complex and highly specialized form of Deuteromycota fungi?  The fungal fossial record is exteremely spare but fungi are estimated to have initially appeared in the fossil record at least 900 million year ago, so this is a viable hypothesis that could be tested by conducting some DNA / RNA comparisons between CSB and Deuteromycote fungal cells.

Deuteromycota fungi producing asexual spores, called conidia (archive.bio.ed.ac.uk)

The next article will focus on the technology of the Great Race.  Thank you – Fred.

Elder Things and Cone-Shaped Beings: Creators and Created?

Last time it was established that the cone-shaped beings (CSBs) has been on Earth for at least a billion years, while the Elder Things came to Earth sometime in the Archaen Aeon (between 2.5 and 4 billion years ago).  When the Elder Things arrived on Earth, life only consisted of prokaryotic (bacterial cells) life.  It was the Elder Things that created more complex, eukaryotic cells, which then gave rise to multicellular life.  It appears that one of their earliest experiments, whether the eventual outcome was intentional or not, may have the creation of the CSBs.

Great Race of Yith (by Douzen)

If the Elder Things did create the CSBs, why didn’t Dyer and Danforth come across a description of these beings on the bas-reliefs they were examining in the ancient city in At the Mountains of Madness.  There are a number of possible explanations.  As Dr. Robert M. Price described in his article – Patterns in the Snow: A New Reading of At the Mountains of Madness (Crypt of Cthulhu, Issue 81; 1992), the data that Dyer and Danforth collected were based on conjectural “readings” of “mute bas reliefs in one single building in a vast city..”.  Dr. Price hypothesizes that it may be possible there was some misinterpretations of the bas reliefs.  For example, what if the story of the Elder Things was not them coming to Earth and establishing a civilization?  What if the story was that the Elder Things were also residents of Earth who created the Shoggoths and then voyaged to the stars (Price, 1992)?  Thus, isn’t it possible that other passages of the bas reliefs were misinterpreted, including any mention of the CSBs?

Crypt of Cthulhu, Issue 81
Crypt of Cthulhu, Issue 81

Another explanation is that descriptions of the CSBs were found in other buildings within the city.  Maybe each building or section of the city provides information on various aspects of Elder Thing culture or history.  As an analogy, imagine if an alien civilization was given the chapter summaries from a book on American History.  While an overall view of general historical accounts would be given, large portions of critical details would be overlooked.  This may be the case in At the Mountains of Madness.

Finally, maybe the Elder Things did not consider the CSBs to be very interesting to include them in their historical accounts.  However, this last explanation is unlikely.

While the CSBs or the Great Race were not mentioned in At the Mountains of Madness, the Elder Thing were mentioned several times in The Shadow Out of Time.  The first time they are mentioned was when Wingate Peaslee was describing some of the other minds that were transferred with the bodies of the Great Race.  I will review some of these Terran and alien minds in a later article but Peaslee did state that “Of earthly minds there were some of the winged, starheaded, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica…”  Thus, it is obvious from this passage that the Elder Things are susceptible to the mind transfer with the Great Race, just as are humans.

Yithian and Elder Things (www.roebeast.blogspot.com)

In a later passage it was noted that warfare has been waged by the Great Race against various species, including the “…star-headed Old Ones who centered in the Antarctic, was infrequent though infinitely devastating.”  Thus, it sounds like the Great Race and the Elder Things rarely had contact but when they did war was typically the result.  In addition, being described as “devastating” by the Great Race indicates that the Elder Things were typically the winners of such skirmishes.  It sounds like the camera-like electrical weapons of the Great Race were no match against Shoggoths!

The last time the Elder things are mentioned is when Peaslee is again recalling some past memories and asks himself if he can find a tower in the Great Race’s ancient city where “S’gg’ha, the captive mind from the star-headed vegetable carnivores of Antarctica, had chiseled certain pictures on the blank spaces of the walls?”  Here we actually given the name of an Elder Thing!

To conclude, the interactions between the Great Race and the Elder Things were complicated to say the least.  While the Elder Things may have been the ultimate creators of the CSBs, these two species had aggressive conflicts, more than likely after the CSB minds were taken over by the Yithians.  Finally, it is quite ironic that the Great Race could manipulate their creators or “gods” through mind projection.  Next time I will talk about Yithian technology.  Thank you – Fred

Ancient text of a Yithian (from granraza1)

Alternative Hypotheses on the Origin of the Great Race

Jack Skeleton reviewing the Scientific Method, from The Nightmare Before Christmas (www.mia6.tumblr.com).

What I love about both science and working on this WordPress page is that I am always learning something new.  I like to say science is not math.  While 1 + 1 will always equal 2 (at least in our known part of the Universe), science works by making observations, developing a predictive hypothesis to explain how something works, and then testing that hypothesis.  If the resulting data supports the hypothesis, additional tests are done for further validation.  However, if the resulting data to not support the hypothesis, it has to be either modified or thrown out for a new hypothesis.  This has been the case for my analysis on the origin of the Great Race.

Based on the available data at hand, I hypothesized in the first article that the cone-shaped beings (CSBs), were either related to one of two Class of Mollusks (Gastropods or Cephalopods) or that they need to be in their own separate phylum.  I concluded the second article citing the bizarre life forms that were identified in the Burgess Shale, which is dated between 530 and 510 million years ago .  I then hypothesized that maybe the CSBs were the decedents from a species that resided in the Burgess Shale.

The Great Race (some fantastic artwork by Steve Maschuck)

However, Tom Ardans brought to my attention a specific quote in the text of HPL’s The Shadow Out of Time:   “The beings of a dying elder world, wise with the ultimate secrets, had looked ahead for a new world and species wherein they might have long life; and had sent their minds en masse into that future race best adapted to house them – the cone-shaped beings that peopled our earth a billion years ago.”

The key to that passage is the CSBs were on Earth a billion years ago.  Thus, the CSBs are approximately twice as old as the multi-cellular residents of the Burgess Shale (maybe the CSBs have been on Earth longer than a billion year ago)!  Additionally, according to HPL’s At the Mountains of Madness, the Elder Ones (or Things) came to Earth in the Archaean Aeon.  Following S.T. Joshi’s approach, I will use the more up-to-date age estimated for the Archaen Aeon.  Thus, the Archaen Aeon is estimated to be between 2.5 and 4 billion years ago (cited in both M.J. Benton’s The History of Life and in the explanatory notes by S.T. Joshi for At the Mountains of Madness, found in The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories; 2001).

The Great Race examining some text on a future civilization (more great artwork by Tom Ardans)

When the Elder Things arrived on Earth in the Archaen Aeon life was limited to prokaryotic cells (bacteria).  It was the Elder Things, through elaborate forms of bioengineering and endosymbiosis, who created more complex eukaryotic cells, which eventually gave rise to dinosaurs, humans and Shoggoths (which were probably the pinnacle of success for their experiments).  Is it possible that the Elder Things also created the CSBs?  Were the CSBs an early experiment that slithered away to evolve on their own, only to have the Yithian minds invade their bodies approximately 400 million years ago (this date was identified in the 2nd edition of The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana by Daniel Harms; 1998)?

Unponderable Elder Thing by Henning (www.henningludwigsen.com)

To summarize, we know based on HPL’s writings that the CSBs were not aliens.  They were natives of Earth.  If that is the case, and the Elder Things arrived on Earth before the CSBs appeared, then more than likely the CSBs were a by-product of the Elder Things experiments on life.  This strange geologic relationship between the Elder Things and the Great Race will be discussed in more detail in the next article.  Thank you – Fred.

The Shadow Out of Time – Part 2, Additional Notes on the Taxonomy of the Great Race

Yithian (drawing by Zippo4k)

In the previous article a discussion was initiated on the taxonomy of the cone-shaped beings (CSB), collectively known as the Great Race when the alien minds of the “Yithians” that occupy their bodies are taken into account.  Last time a hypothesis was put forth that the CSBs may be a type of mollusk, being closely related to gastropods (snails) and/or cephalopods (octopus).  If the CSBs are caterogrized as mollusks, they are more than likely more closely related to gastropods and in particular the Family Haliotidae which contains only one genus Haliotis.  Commonly known as abalone, this is a marine group of mollusks that vary from small to large and are well known to be very edible.

An abalone in a tank at the Ty Warner Sea Center, Santa Barbara, CA.  Note the purple layer of tissue under the shell, called the epipodium.  Underneath the epipodium is the large, fleshy foot.  Also note the tentacles coming out of the shell (from Wikipedia.org).

With some extensive specialization of the tentacles, an increase in size and modification of the shape of the shell, it is possible to imagine the CSBs being related to this family of mollusks.  However, a number of people have contacted me with some alternative hypotheses.

It is possible that the CSBs should not to be included in the Phylum Mollusca.  In fact, the CSBs may be distinct enough to warrant their own unique Phylum within the Animal Kingdom.  According to HPL’s The Shadow Out of Time the Great Race disappeared from the Earth approximately 50 million years before man appeared on the evolutionary scene.  Based on S.T. Joshi’s explanatory notes which revised and updated HPL’s cited geologic eras, the CSBs were around throughout the Palaeozoic era which covered from around 570 to 225 million year ago (Penguin Classics – The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories).

Most modern phyla of animal life appeared in the early part of the Paleozoic era – during the Cambrian period, which was between 542 and 488 million years ago  (Michael J. Benton; The History of Life; 2008).  Thus, it is certainly possible that the CSBs were already a distinict species this early on Earth, which would support the hypothesis that they should be classified in their own distinct phylum.

 Yithian (by the talented artist Tom Ardan)

Another hypothesis for consideration is that the CSBs may be a residual ancestor of the bizarre marine community of ancient organisms found in the Burgess Shale, British Columbia, Canada.   The Burgess Shale provides an incredible account of fossilization of soft-bodied organisms that lived on Earth between 530 and 510 million years ago (Evolution: The First Four Billon Years; edited by M. Ruse and J. Travis; 2009).  The extremely strange organisms identified in the Burgess Shale  included phyla that are wholly extinct and very strange looking.  Were the CSBs a surviving species that outlived many of the other Burgess Shale organisms, only to be later “occupied” by the Yithian minds?

Rendition of the Burgess Shale Cambrian community by Karen Carr of the Field Museum (from http://www.mshanks.com)

Next time another hypothesis will be presented that considers the idea that the CSBs many not even be members of the  Animal Kingdom.  Thank you – Fred.