Aliens In The Family

Question from Archer:
Hi I am an agnostic and do support evolution. I know this is just a supposition but since biological beings continue evolving (through vast increments of time) would it make sense to think that far more advanced intelligent beings do exist and that we could actually be related to them?

Thank you.

Answer by SmartLX:
Considering only Earth, it’s unlikely that there’s ever been a species more intelligent than us here, because if so we’d probably have found some trace of them. We’ve had such a profound effect on the ecosystem that the only things that have had more impact are cataclysms like the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs; a species with even more power to affect its surroundings would have been unmistakable in its influence.

Considering the universe as a whole, though, it was already about 10 billion years old when the Earth was formed, and it took another 4.5 billion to produce human beings. Imagine how advanced we could be in one million years, if we survive that long; now, consider that if a species on another planet reached our present level of intelligence and civilisation just one million years ahead of us, out of billions of years so far, they could be at that advanced stage right now. It’s a big universe, so big that it’s probably more likely that the reason we haven’t been contacted by advanced aliens is that they don’t know we’re here and can’t reach us, not that there are no aliens.

I don’t think we’d be related to any advanced aliens that do exist, and here’s why. The study of DNA tells us that all life on Earth has a common ancestor, an extremely simple organism of some kind that lived about 3 to 3.5 billion years ago, so any related aliens had to be the progenitor of that organism. To do that, they had to be capable of interstellar space travel that long ago. An alien race one million years ahead of us is one thing, but 3 billion years is WAY early. The universe’s first stars had to explode to provide the rest of the universe with any chemical elements beyond hydrogen and helium, so it was several billion years before the building blocks of life even existed and were widespread. Earth is probably the product of at least two full star lifecycles since it formed after 10 billion years. That could be why it’s so rich in minerals, metals and exotic compounds. If that’s what it takes to produce life, it might not have been able to start a whole star-generation earlier than it did. It’s not impossible, because some stars burn fast and blow up after only a few million years, but I just think the “factories” had output so much less raw material so long ago.

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