Imagine that humankind finally takes wing and reaches out into the heavens to claim its vast cosmic birthright ...

... only to find that a previous wave of dinosaurs from Earth, who left ~65 million years ago, have already colonized the immediate neighborhood?

Moreover, due to a hard problem in physics, their technology has plateaued, above human levels, but not at anything approaching Clarke-style magic. A recent major astronomical event in a distant galaxy, unprecedented in the past 70 million years, has revealed clues to both human and troodont observers about a New Physics, beyond the standard models of both species.

I'm open to the idea that the departing dinos wiped out their mates back on the homeworld, as part of some massive civil war that we call the K-Pg Extinction Event.

Plausible? Why or why not?

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    $\begingroup$ Or perhaps we'll find a race of sloth sandwiched between us and the dinosaurs? $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2015 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ Difficult. How about, 65 million years ago, a sophisticated alien race was able to predict the impending meteor impact and subsequent mass extinction, and decided to seed the local star group with dinosaur species. These species have continued to evolve and now possess sophisticated technologies of their own. $\endgroup$
    – abcdefg
    Jan 24, 2015 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ Assume that the dinosaurs didn't discover FTL travel, and that the nearest habitable planets are thousands of light-years away. So they crossed the gulf in suspended animation, at a small fraction of light speed, and some are only now arriving... $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jan 24, 2015 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ Didn't I see that on Star Trek Voyager? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Jan 25, 2015 at 10:05
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    $\begingroup$ yes it was in ST Voyager episode "Distant Origin" . Great episode, though not scientifically convincing. en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Distant_Origin_(episode) $\endgroup$
    – Giuseppe
    Jan 26, 2015 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


Could a space faring race rise from the age of the dinosaurs? I like the possibility.

It has lots of darwinistic support; a dangerous age where intelligence, dexterity and tool-use would provide significant survival advantages.

They wouldn't be from the top of the food chain. Not the T-Rex level predators. They would probably be on the small side with a slower metabolism, capable of out-waiting their aggressors. It wasn't the sabre-tooths that became smart. It was the monkeys who could climb out of reach then out-wait the hungry cats. (Why is may housecat glaring at me as I write this?)

They would not just have been smart enough to avoid falling into bogs, they would have lured other dinosaurs to a muddy death. This greatly contributed to our current misconsception about how abundant enormous predators were back then.

The issue of why they haven't been back bugs me though. As you say, pleasant worlds are rare as hell. I would postulate instead that they did come back many millions of years ago. When they got here, they found the planet miserably cold by their standards. So instead of moving in, they tinkered with the genetics of the then indiginous primates. Yes, Adam and Eve were lizards!

After seeding our world with future partners in sentience, they took a few samples back to their new homeworld as a method for colonizing cold worlds. There aren't just dinosaurs waiting for us in the stars... we're already out there.

Why did they leave most of us behind? Because we were boring by their standards. We were just mastering fire and thought that using a stick as a club was high tech. Only one cultural anthropologist stuck around to watch the show of our becoming civilized. She's currently swimming around in Loch Ness in a biological plesiosaur suit that functions like thermal underwear. Until the last century or so, she was bored to tears. Now she's successfully syndicating her observations over sub-space as the galaxy's most ludicrous situational comedy.

By the way, they are immortal. Compared to interstellar travel and terraforming, life extension is a breeze. Besides, with lightspeed still a distant myth, space exploration takes a long life and a lot of patience. Sub-space sit-coms are big business among the travelers.

Have they colonized the whole galaxy? Not even close. 65 million years is not really that long and relativity is a bitch. Yes, they already own every pleasant planet in our galactic arm and they've colonized the core. Fortunately for us their definition of pleasant is different from ours. Unfortunately, our cimian star-brothers like our kinds of planets and they've already claimed most of the good ones.

A few human-friendly cold worlds have deliberately been left uncolonized in the solar systems closest to our Sol. These planets are waiting for us as soon as we figure out how to get to them. Don't think that this was done because the star dinosaurs are generous. They aren't. Nessy bought them in the hopes that we will create some spinoffs for her best selling subspace comedy.


I predict that most replies here will be of the "Dinos Dumb, Dinos Birdbrained" variety. Here's my attempt at preempting that.

  1. While the encephalization index (brain/body ratio) is a good measure of smarts generally, bigger brains are not always better. If they were, dolpins, whales and (with their trunk manipulators) elephants would have taken over the planet and put us in zoos long ago.

  2. There are some ridiculously smart birds out there (parrots, magpies and other corvids like ravens). While it's true that it's now 65 million years later, they are dinosaurs. So dinosaurs can be intelligent.

  3. Where are the fossils? Well, as they ascended the intelligence ladder like a rocket, the pre-sapient troodontid ancestors preferred climate zones that are not good fossil generators, plus they were smart enough not to fall in bogs, duh.

  4. Where are the ruins? It's been like 65 million years dude, some have melted in the mantle convection, most have been crushed by stone and history, except for a thin layer of iridium from that final conflagration.

Ok, but wouldn't they have colonized the whole damn galaxy? Space travel is expensive, pleasant worlds rare as hell, and no other habitable worlds were in range of the kind of colony ships their advanced tech level allowed them to reach. They had better things to do, like engage in war on such a destructive scale that their tech levels over time look like the teeth of a see-saw (or T-rex). Or perhaps they DID colonize the whole damn galaxy, in which case Earth must've been a zoological garden of sorts.

Fine, but surely Earth was in range (since they came from here). Why didn't they come back? Maybe they did, several times over the aeons. The Cretaceous temperatures they liked were a lot higher, so perhaps our world was too cool for any long term habitation. More likely, the stories in troodont legend speak of Earth as a terrible cemetery world, where all life was snuffed out at the Departure. Earth is regarded with religious dread, or has simply been forgotten during the thousands of ups and downs of the long, long troodontine history. Or perhaps they DID come back and have been directing our history from the shadows for their own inscrutable reptilitan purposes.

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    $\begingroup$ The dolphins have imprisoned us in zoos which we call dry land. Notice that everytime we send a ship to sail across the top of the civilized world, our dolphin masters send escorts to swim along side us and make sure we dont misbehave. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2015 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ Love the "they were smart enough not to fall in bogs". Makes me think that when the canine archeologists dig up our bones, they will judge us by the couch potatoes who lived just far enough from ground zero that the nuclear fallout preserved their bodies long enough to become fossils. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2015 at 20:08

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