Interesting read. But he contradicts himself in the final paragraph:
But these will be flimsy souvenirs, almost pathetic reminders of a civilisation that once thought itself the pinnacle of achievement. Within a few million years, erosion and possibly another ice age or two will have obliterated most of even these faint traces. If another intelligent species ever evolves on the Earth - and that is by no means certain, given how long life flourished before we came along - it may well have no inkling that we were ever here save for a few peculiar fossils and ossified relics.
So, given how long life has indeed flourished on Earth, how does he know there has not been an intelligent species here before, millions of years ago? By his own theory, all traces of them would now be gone. The dinosaurs ruled for millions of years and died out 65,000,000 years ago. Thats plenty of time for an intelligent species to evolve, peak, and then disappear without trace, several times over.
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
But it took our species 40,000 years or so to discover oil -- another, previous intellegent species could have exisited and wiped out before they got around to discovering it (or even got around to building cities and/or working with metals).
Our species' survivial has more based on luck than on intellegence and/or technology.
Last edited by Vaughn; 01-10-2007 at 12:12 AM. Click to view previous post history.
/I]So, given how long life has indeed flourished on Earth, how does he know there has not been an intelligent species here before, millions of years ago?
This is one of the (fringe but serious) possible scenarios for the extinction event(s) that eliminated the dinosaurs, and has been around for many years.
In fact a few possible dinosaur-era candidate species have been identified as potentially having been intelligent, and some of the pre-disaster exinctions closely match those of large animals that were eliminated by humans over past millenia (e.g. mammoths, giant sloths). The theory proposes that one species got smart, messed things up, and ultimately took out a lot of species including themselves. The slight trace layer of radioactivity that matches that last exinction event is ominous (the currently-favored meteor-extinction theory also accomodates this layer by attributing it to materials in the asteroid and heavy metals unearthed by the explosion of impact).
Could we (or would we) reconize a non-human intelegence (whales, an ant community, or dinosaurs, or reptilian-based) if we saw it? Or the earth itself?
But no matter what, the earth shall abide...at least for any timespan we can comprehend. Based on best-guesses, the human species has reached the maximum time of exisitance for species before extinction.
PS...maybe I ought to do carbon transfers on some cave walls -- might be fun to tweak the minds of the next intellegent species in line!
"Some of the more aware dinosaurs were worried about the
environmental consequences of an accident with the new
Iridium enriched fusion reactor. 'If it goes off only
the cockroaches and mammals will survive...' they said."