Was There an Industrial Prehuman Civilization Before Our Own? Nasa Scientist Says It’s Possible

The lack of proof is not proof that there is no proof. NASA scientist and an astrophysicist explain the lack of evidence of a prehuman civilization does not mean it didn't exist.
prehuman civilization

People have long debated the possibility of an industrial prehuman society on Earth. Some think an industrial prehuman society could have existed, while others believe it is impossible. What is interesting about this topic of debate is that scientists are willing to weigh in and give an opinion.

Does any of this matter? If people debate the existence of non-human civilizations in human mythology, such as the Nephilim and The Anunnaki Gods: The Astronaut Gods of the Sumerians, what is relevant to us?

To understand these questions’ importance, you need to know what the term “Anthropocene Epoch” means. The Anthropocene Epoch is an unofficial unit of geologic time that is used to describe the most recent time in Earth’s history when human activity started to have a significant effect on the climate and ecosystems of the planet. Only then does it become relevant to understanding whether a prehuman / alien industrial civilization had any impact on the planet before us.


An industrial prehuman society caused climate change and mass extinction?

It turns out that one theory is that an industrial prehuman society on Earth may have wiped itself out by causing climate change, much like how our society seems to be headed today with causing global warming.

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You can’t prove these researchers wrong

Gavin Schmidt and Adam Frank, who lead the research, are totally safe in that the results of their investigation into this can’t be refuted. The premise of the work is that there is no evidence for that, but the lack of proof is not proof that there is no proof. Their theories take the reader into an interesting head spin of why there would be no evidence for views of an industrial prehuman society on Earth, possibly an alien one. 

Keeping an open mind to what this research indicates

Before you consider the above theory totally absurd, consider that one of the researchers involved is Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the other is Adam Frank, an astrophysicist.

Gavin Schmidt climate scientist
Gavin Schmidt – climate scientist by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Schmidt and Frank

How could we know for sure if there were industrial prehuman civilizations on Earth before us? This is the question that climate scientist Gavin Schmidt and astrophysicist Adam Frank asked in a scientific thought experiment.

  • They looked at the possibility of detecting an industrial civilization on another planet by looking for atmospheric pollution.
  • They found that if there were an industrial civilization on Earth before humans, we would be able to detect it through atmospheric pollution.
  • However, they also found that it is very unlikely that there was an industrial civilization on Earth before humans.

Using imagination as research

As part of their research, they imagined that a high-tech alien civilization had been observing Earth for a long time and that they had developed sophisticated methods for detecting lifeforms. If they found evidence that humans had been here before, they might conclude that the civilizations were actually industrial rather than natural.

Combining imagination with facts, did previous prehuman industrial civilizations cause global warming?

The new study shows that the increase in temperature we are experiencing today is very similar to the warming seen during the last ice age and the Roman period.

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Schmidt says that the “warmest times in the past” were caused by “hyperthermals,” which are the warmest parts of the Earth’s atmosphere. The chemical signals and traces that show what happened at the time look very similar, meaning that humans or natural forces caused the warming.

  • The climate change caused by industry today looks very similar to the conditions during other times when temperatures rose quickly.
  • This is a scary prospect for scientists, as it means that humans are potentially causing another mass extinction event.
  • The Anthropocene is the proposed time period in Earth’s geologic history when human activities are the most important, and it is thought to have started around the Industrial Revolution.

Where did the methane come from?

The University of Rochester physicist had found evidence that the PETM was caused by the release of methane from the Earth’s mantle. The methane would have caused the Earth’s atmosphere to warm up and cause the sea levels to rise.

The possibility of discovering evidence of an industrial prehuman civilization

Schmidt and Frank explore the idea that Earth may have had more than one technological society in its 4.5-billion-year history. The research reviews if it is possible to still find signs of such a society, and if so, how?


Schmidt and Frank are two scientists who are studying the effects that humans are having on the environment. Their research makes predictions about what signs the Anthropocene will leave behind, and they discuss how scientists might be able to tell the difference between human-caused climate changes and those that are caused by natural factors.

More fantasy used to explain their research

To explain their research, they come up with the idea of the prehuman Silurian civilization. The Silurians were a race of highly advanced reptiles that lived before humans for hundreds of millions of years, during a time when the atmosphere went through a time of terrible changes that forced humans to go into hibernation underground. 

Why can’t we find evidence of Silurians?

We can’t find evidence of the existence of Silurians because finding proof that old is difficult. Schmidt estimates the chances of finding a dinosaur fossil. He gives a back-of-the-envelope calculation in which he states that one fossil is found every 10,000 years, but dinosaur tracks are even rarer.


Frank backs Schmidt up by saying that it is very likely that there will be no physical signs left of our civilization after a few million years. This could be because of sedimentary anomalies or isotopic ratios.

Carbon and synthetic molecules hold the clues, not fossils

Schmidt and Frank propose that any society that intensively used energy would leave traces worldwide. They think the focus should be looking for globalized effects that leave a trace worldwide.

The research suggests by knowing how much carbon was put into the air; we can figure out how many years ago the change happened.


Synthetic molecules are not found in nature, so scientists have to create them in a lab to study how they work and how they might be harmful; these molecules are called “tracers” because they help scientists see how things work in the body; ozone-eating molecules are released from refrigerators and aerosol sprays, and they can be used to study the effects of these products on the atmosphere. 

Archeologists generally look for artifacts and obvious signs to prove civilizations existed. Is it possible a prehuman/alien industrial civilization left tracers behind? If they did, maybe archeologists just haven’t been looking for them.

If there are no artifacts or apparent signs of a prehuman civilization, the uniqueness of an event might be seen in a lot of small changes that don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. 


Schmidt and Frank are not alone in their assertion that lack of proof doesn’t mean lack of fact. The supporting research of researchers such as Jason Wright gets a bit trippy at this point.

If dinosaurs built rockets

Jason Wright is an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University. The latter published a paper in 2017 exploring the counterintuitive idea that the best place to find evidence of any of Earth’s possible prehuman civilizations may be off-world. If, for example, dinosaurs built rockets that could travel between planets, some proof of this might still be around in stable orbits or on the surfaces of celestial bodies that haven’t changed much over time, like the Moon.

So who knows when a lack of evidence is a lack of fact?

Wright is saying that people used to think that there was a civilization on Mars, but now people believe that this isn’t true because the probes sent to Mars haven’t provided proof. He is also saying that it’s possible that something happened on Mars in the past that we don’t know about.


It is easy to forget that the lesson in this is that either real or mythical creatures could have wiped themselves out by causing climate change events. Maybe we should be focusing more on that than on them? Perhaps the answer is on the Moon.

Featured image credit: prehuman civilization by Shutterstock.com

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