I have left a link to the NASA video in case you are not to sure what I am referring to or to get a better picture of what I am talking about.


With that in mind, I imagine that some of these planets if not all would be capable of having sentient life.

Question: How would these sentient species play a role on each other's evolution/growth?

  • $\begingroup$ @ggiaquin and Dtb49: In this case it would be a good idea to open a Post on Meta, so that we can discuss there whether this is too broad or not. Personally I think the problem is that we don't know enough about the planets. Without knowing about the planets we cannot even make assumptions about how fast and how exactly evolution would take place on these planets. Their interaction with each other is even more unpredictable as there is no example that we could use. But the question is interesting. I would imagine by giving more assumptions about the evolution it could fit the sites standards $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ unless @Dtb49 wouldn't mind I fill in or someone else fill in the assumptions to make it a more applicable question :) $\endgroup$
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ I've trimmed the comments down and re-opened the edited question as most of the original problems are now fixed. It wouldn't hurt to add more details though - and also we should clarify whether we're talking the evolution of life in general, sentient life, etc. You could even do a reality check question of asking how likely it is that the planets simultaneously develop sentient life. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ I've also edited the title, it may need adjusting again if the question content is also adjusted. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ I knew this system would come up on the site as soon as I read the article this afternoon. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 23:26

4 Answers 4


It would be extremely unlikely for two (or more) civilizations to find themselves at the same level of technological development. What is likely is that some civilizations in that system would predate others by millions of years.

Given that consideration, things could develop in following ways:

  1. Colonization. The eldest civilization fully colonizes other worlds, giving them no chance of developing their own civilizations.

  2. Cohabitation. Eldest civilization colonizes other worlds while indigenous species continue to evolve, finally becoming sentient on their own.

  3. Grooming. Eldest civilization deliberately directs evolution on other worlds to produce sentient beings.

  4. Seeding. Eldest civilization does not colonize other worlds, or withdraws from them after a while. However, other worlds would still be populated with a number of species from elder civilization's world, eventually evolving into sentient beings, maybe similar to "elders".

  5. Isolation. Eldest civilization maintains isolation of other worlds. Eventually they also may become civilized ones on their own.

The above ideas about multiple civilizations imply that life has a high chance of developing an intellect, which may not be the case.


The only sharing of life between these planets might be microbes. There's a theory that comet strikes could fling microbes out into space to potentially seed other planets. Unproven so far. But we don't see any higher lifeforms traversing space, and the question hasn't proposed any of these aliens have that ability.

Beyond that, there's no interaction while the species are evolving, so the answer to your question "How would these sentient species play a role on each other's evolution/growth?" is "They would not play any role in each other's evolution/growth."

If the question is meant to be about their cultural interaction as mature species, that question is too broad to be answered here -- it encompasses the entirety of speculative fiction on aliens!

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    $\begingroup$ To be fair, evolution does not stop just because a species reaches sentience. It probably changes the selective pressures, but selective pressures still exist. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael I read the question as influencing their development to becoming a species. Do you think I misread it? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ I think the question was ambiguous to that end, and I cannot guess at the author's intent. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 19:35

Whooo (like halting a horse) there, "With that in mind, I imagine that some of these planets if not all would be capable of having sentient life." While one or possibly more of these planets may be the best chance of finding life on a different world finding intelligent life is a totally different situation. In only one instance has intelligent life here on Earth been proven on a world filled with life for millions of years. (Yes there is a questions whether we can classify dolphins, whales or even some apes as intelligent but for now we will stick to humans because we are the only ones capable of leaving the planet at the moment unless of course we take some of the others.) While some people think life on Earth may have arose from life on Mars or from elsewhere in the universe via extremophiles we do not know if panspermia (the name some scientist have given to that theory) will actually work or not. I will be thrilled to find some sign of life one one of these planets. I am not sure about sentient life. At only 40 light years if it were less advanced than us I would be concerned about our future effect on them. If it is more advanced than us I would be terrified of what they would do to us when not if they discovered we are here!


Assuming that all of the planets are inhabited by life, here's what I'd see as the most likely situation.

The first space faring civilization would completely control and dominate the system without any other sentient races in the picture.

Life emerged on earth 4.1 billion years ago. The first evidence of tool use dates back 2.5 million years. We first went to space 56 years ago.

Extrapolating from the only example we have - very soon after life evolves to the point of general intelligence and tool use, we progress to a stage where interplanetary colonization is possible. When the first species to develop space flight goes to visit these other life-bearing worlds they wouldn't even find basic civilization, because if any other world had progressed as far as tool use first they would have already colonized the others.

Hope this helps!


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