Were There Pre-Human Civilizations on Earth? New Scientific Research Makes the Case
Astronomers and SETI scientists are constantly scanning the stars for signs of an intelligent, non-human civilization, but what if they're looking in the wrong place?
What if an industrial civilization already existed here on Earth, before humans?
If that sounds like the beginning of a conspiracy theory involving alien lizard people, you're not completely wrong. A recent study, conducted by two scientists from the University of Rochester and NASA's Goddard Space Center, outlines a new so-called "Silurian hypothesis," named for the hyper-advanced race of reptilians that predated humanity on Earth.
According to one of the study's authors, astrophysicist Adam Frank: "Now, I don't believe an industrial civilization existed on Earth before our own—I don't think there was a dinosaur civilization or a giant tree sloth civilization. But the question of what one would look like if it did [exist] is important. How do you know there hasn't been one? The whole point of science is to ask a question and see where it leads. That's the essence of what makes science so exciting."
The major question the study asks is whether the remnants of a pre-human industrial civilization would show up in the geological record, including fossils.
The authors noted that even if large-scale industry was established on Earth, millions of years of decay and upheaval might only leave a few traces of ancient technology, making more subtle techniques, like looking for strange chemical compounds, such as carbon and nitrogen altered by industrial processes. Even fossils of advanced beings may be virtually undetectable—as LiveScience notes, paleontologists have only found a few thousand complete dinosaur skeletons, despite the fact that millions once roamed the Earth.
Another interesting question the study asks is whether a previous industrial civilization might have laid the foundations for ours by creating the right geological conditions (such as the appearance of fossil fuels).
"You could end up seeing these cycles in the geological record," says Adam Frank. Frank and his co-author haven't found any evidence that the Silurian hypothesis is true, but we get the feeling that it's going to fuel a whole lot of conspiracy theories (like the Draconian Reptile/Nordic alien theory) either way.