All the species mentioned here use hands in order to manipulate their environment. They are all very human-like in their abilities and capabilities (except for the statements below), they are basically primate equivalents.

The following Humanoid Species/Civilizations are involved in this scenario:

My definition of Humanoid : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanoid

  • Civilization 1 (called Civ1 from now on)

Very human-like in appearance and capabilities.

  • Civilization 2 (called Civ2 from now on)

Also humanoid, but is physically stronger than the average civ1-individual Originating from a dying, war-torn world, civ2 is also looking for a new home and discovers this, now habitable system.

  • Civilization 3 (called Civ3 from now on)

They are very sensitive when it comes to each others feelings/state of mind and also they have access to their hypothalamus and their limbic area of their brain in a superior way. For example: If they loose a relative they can "plan" their phase of grief.

  • Civilization 4 (called Civ4 from now on)

Minor influence for now, other than serving as cannon fodder/cheap work force.

Now to the Question

I'm working on a Science-Fiction project that is based on the conflict between several space-colonizing, intelligent powers, trying to make a new living in a new star system. At first we have Civ1* looking for a new home.

The most livable place within 100s of light years is a sun-like star, orbited by a gas giant/brown dwarf-System with several earth-sized, smaller or bigger moons.

These moons are too cold to develop live on their own. Then we have a group/civilization (civ1) arriving there. Some of them decided to settle in an O'Neil-Cylinder-kind of system amidst a spot abundant in resources relatively close nearby. But because there is the right amount of frozen water on these moon's surface and an atmosphere is already present on all of them, for a more radical group of colonizers, engineers and scientists colonizing these moons seems to be the better alternative and they succeed to turn the moons habitable within 1000-ish years. Life on these different moons from there on develops in different directions, depending on the local gravity for example.

So a few 1000 years later we have the following situation:

Civ1 successfully Terra-forms these moons, having created a blooming inter-lunar empire. The O'Neil-based society has either moved on and lost contact or their construction was destroyed, anyways their fate is unknown.

Maybe 10000 years later Civ2 is arriving on this location. They are also going to settle there, because the hard work of terra-forming has already been achieved by Civ1.

Civ1 Have become kind of tolerant and is willing to share their wealth with the newcomers. But eventually, tensions arise, because Civ2 is claiming more and more space and resources.

This situation creates several conflicts between the two different societies, and following wars escalate to a point, which drains/diminishes the economic and military power of either side drastically. It also leads to a lot of destruction regarding infrastructure, general supply, and causes some damage to the ecosystems, including long-term radiation or other contamination on certain areas and deforestation on certain areas.

As soon as the radiation has partially dissipated, live re-emerges even on the most affected moons. A niche has formed for new species to evolve on 2 of the moons, which are almost devoid of any remnants of Civ1 and civ2, and they can develop intelligence and technology on their own. Civ3 and civ4 enter the scene here . Civ1 and civ2 failed to reach the dominance they had, so Civ3 can expand quickly and become the new inter-lunar superpower, while Civ4 and the remnants of Civ1 and Civ2 are struggling to maintain any kind of dominance and have to work together in order to survive as sovereign entities.

So my question is: Is it possible that an inter-lunar civilization is struck so hard, that they loose their grip over nature, regress in technology and economy, and new intelligent species can emerge within the next +/-1 Million years, given the right conditions for their evolution?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You are asking about incredibly long spans of time. Ten thousand years, one million years... Remember that the entire history of mankind, from the earlist Sumerian clay tablets to our very days, is only five thousand years. What do we have in common with the Sumerians? Is there anything which can be said in general about the human civilization spanning those five millennia? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Apr 28 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ Well you could say, constant innovation and development. Continuos innovation and progress. And in my Opinion, the limit is light speed. In my scenario, all of the civilizations have hit a roadblock here, and due to conflicts, they regressed back instead of continuing to progress towards warp speed for example. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 28 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a worldbuilding question here? I see a story plot question, which the help center prohibits. Given enough time, anything can evolve from anything, but expecting your decimated civilizations to remain decimated for a million years is, frankly, beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief. They'd either thrive to hold complete dominion over the evolved species (if they elected to let them live in the first place) or they'd be long dead by the time the evolved species came to their power. Which is a plot choice - your plot choice. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Apr 28 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ I don't mind to migrate this discussion to another platform/forum if the rules tell me so. The reason why civ1 and civ2 can't return to their power position is that they keep sabotaging themselves, mostly by infighting and corruption. Also the worlds their stuck in, are depleted of resources, while they regenerate on civ3's future home world. There is the will to survive of course, so they will never be completely extinct. Also upcoming civ3 are not genocidal nutjobs, so they could politically dominate civ1, civ2 or civ4 entities, but they wont extinct them. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 29 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ Does the question essentially boil-down to the speed of evolution? If so, then you've told us nothing about the candidate species: their lifespan, speed of reproduction or reproductive strategies, current intelligence, their appendages (for manipulation of objects), etc.. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 29 at 6:00

2 Answers 2


Of Course

So my question is: Is it possible that an inter-lunar civilization is struck so hard, that they loose their grip over nature, regress in technology and economy [...]

One of the dominant sub-genres within Science Fiction from ~1950-1990 was the "After the Bomb" regression. Planet of the Apes, Asimov's Foundation, the original Fallout video games, etc.

So sure, readers will buy this premise.

Part 2

new intelligent species can emerge within the next +/-1 Million years, given the right conditions for their evolution?

The last common ancestor between humans and modern chimps is roughly 10 million years ago. Anatomically modern humans arose ~2 million years ago.

So going from animal to civilization that can threaten star faring civilizations in 1 million years seems a little fast, but we're also comparing them to a sample set of 1 (humanity).

You could probably say they had a little selective breeding from civ1 or civ2 before the bombs dropped, and that afterwards they found useful tech from the previous civilizations and that sounds reasonably plausible.


You are presuming that the civilizations retain their knowledge and expertise for long time even when the means to apply these expertise are destroyed.

Consider all AI developers now, without computer superclusters they would'nt have the equipment to apply their knowledge. the same for electrical engineers, machinists, metal working, even agriculture. Similar to data rot for modern tech.

In addition to that, (taking into consideration that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic for less advances species) there could be a technology so advanced that it's completeley autonomus.

For example: energy could come from a "dyson-sphere-like" construction that sends concentrated energy bursts to receptors on the surface. The're fairly advanced and need no human intervention in the foreeable future. knowledge of how this system works could be lost and the supply chain to make another one could be destroyed sending the species back 100K years back even if the knowledge is somehow retained.

They need to re-discover the technnology and then make the tools that makes the factories that makes the tools that make "the thing".

real-world example: Damascus Steel swords. This tech was lost because the last person who knew how to make them died. Our banking systems rely on Cobol which is still known and documented and people still struggle with it to keep our legacy systems operational.

A handful of fairly large EMPs would now fry all of the worlds' supercomputers. Soon the machines not fried by the EMPs will stop working and the people who know how to work on them will die and their knowledge will be lost or at the very least be indecipherable to their more primitive descendants. It would take hmuanity roughly the same time to get from the new middle ages to modern-like AI revolution as it originally took.

  • $\begingroup$ Okay so it takes roughly 1000 years to go from medieval ages to the age of advanced AI? There is still the evolution of intelligence itself that in my estimate, would took 1 Million years, like to evolve from an animal to a humanoid with the intelligence capable to develop any type of tech. Maybe a race with slightly improved genetics/brain-structures need even less time? thank you for your thoughts. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 30 at 13:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .