Have you ever considered if another race may reach human intellect long after humans have vanished from the planet? We don’t know about you, but we see raccoons at that work all the time.
A family of masked fuzzballs may assemble in front of Mt. Rushmore in 70 million years, lighting a fire with their opposable thumbs and wondering what animals created this mountain. But, wait a minute, would Mt. Rushmore last that long? What if we turn out to be the raccoons?
To put it another way, would we even know if a highly sophisticated race controlled the earth during the time of the dinosaurs? And if it didn’t happen, how can we be sure it didn’t?
Prior to the beginning of time, there was land.
It’s called the Silurian Hypothesis (and it’s named after a group of Doctor Who creatures, lest you think scientists aren’t geeks). It basically states that humans are not the first intelligent life beings to emerge on our planet and that if ancestors existed 100 million years ago, practically all evidence of them would have vanished by now.
“It’s not frequently that you publish a piece presenting an idea that you don’t accept,” physicist and co-author Adam Frank said in an Atlantic story. To put it another way, they deny the existence of a Time Lord and Lizard People society. Rather, they aim to figure out how to locate ancient civilizations in other worlds.
After all, dinosaurs lived 100 million years ago, as shown by the finding of their remains. Regardless, they have lived on the planet for over 150 million years.
This is important because the ruins of this hypothetical civilization aren’t only about how ancient or massive they are. It’s also important to consider how long it’s been around. Humanity has expanded throughout the world in an incredible amount of time – around 100,000 years.
We’d have a far higher chance of detecting it in the geological record if another species performed the same thing. The study of Frank and his co-author Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist, tries to define strategies for uncovering deep-time civilizations.
Finding a needle in a haystack is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Humans have already had a long-term influence on the ecology, so we probably don’t need to tell you that. Plastic will break down into microparticles when it dissolves, which will be absorbed into the substrate for millennia.
Finding that little layer of plastic particles, even if they stay for a long period, may be difficult. On the other hand, looking for times of increased carbon in the atmosphere might be more productive.
The Anthropocene period, which is marked by human domination, is now underway on Earth. It’s also remarkable for an extraordinary increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
That isn’t to claim that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is more than it has ever been. A period of extraordinarily high global temperatures known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) occurred 56 million years ago.
At the poles, the temperature reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Simultaneously, higher levels of fossil carbons have been detected in the atmosphere, the reason for which is unclear. This carbon buildup took hundreds of thousands of years to complete. Is this proof of an ancient culture with superior technology? Is it conceivable that the Earth has seen something that we could only imagine?
The fascinating study’s message is that there is a mechanism for finding ancient civilizations. It’s as simple as searching for quick, rapid bursts of carbon dioxide in ice cores — but the “needle” they’d be looking for in this haystack would be easy to miss if the researchers didn’t know what they were looking for.