It’s technically possible that dinosaurs, in all of their gigantic glory, developed an advanced technological civilization that we’ll never know about.
The idea, a thought experiment crafted by The Atlantic writer Peter Brannen, is meant to illustrate how all of the damage done to the world by humanity happened in the blink of an eye in terms of geological timescales — meaning that an archaeologist in the future might not even know that we were ever here.
Brannen isn’t saying that dinosaurs definitely had a high-tech civilization like in that 1993 so-bad-it’s-funny live-action “Super Mario Bros.” film. But if they somehow did, we’d have no way of knowing. Brannen writes:
If, in the final 7,000 years of their reign, dinosaurs became hyperintelligent, built a civilization, started asteroid mining, and did so for centuries before forgetting to carry the one on an orbital calculation, thereby sending that famous valedictory six-mile space rock hurtling senselessly toward the Earth themselves — it would be virtually impossible to tell. All we do know is that an asteroid did hit, and that the fossils in the millions of years afterward look very different than in the millions of years prior.
Even if these hypothetical technosaurs obliterated each other with nuclear bombs, there wouldn’t be any evidence of the explosions for modern day scientists to study. The longest-lasting radioactive isotope from a nuclear blast has a half-life of about 16 million years, according to The Atlantic — meaning that by now, any evidence of Triassic nukes would have long since dissipated, and there’s a good chance that the evidence of our civilization will do the same.
READ MORE: The Anthropocene Is a Joke [The Atlantic]
More on the Anthropocene: Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Dawn of The Human-Influenced Geological Epoch