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Future archaeologists will find mainly neatly arranged human remains, study says.    Source: milkovasa / Adobe Stock

Future Archaeologists Will Mainly Discover Rows of Humans

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A US scientist predicts that a yet-to-evolve intelligent species testing the fossil record on Earth will find mainly humans, lined up in rows.

The new paper outlined in the journal The Anthropocene, suggests fossil evidence of past life is ‘the only key to the story of life on Earth' and that maybe ‘a hundred million years into the future’ the fossil record on Earth will hold the skeletons of a small number of creatures: pigs, sheep, cattle, but mostly humans.

What this means, according to Climate News Network, is the assemblage of fossils from the Anthropocene (Homo sapiens period) will be entirely unlike the distribution of preserved relics in all geological eras over the last 500 million years.

Roy Plotnick is a doctor of palaeontology at the University of Illinois in Chicago and he said fossilized teeth and isolated bones from ancient mammals are generally found in ‘caves, ancient lake beds and river channels,’ while domestic farms animals tend to die from widespread disease and were buried in trenches ‘far from water.’ Furthermore, animals that died in the Triassic, Jurassic or the Cretaceous were upon death greatly destroyed by scavengers, floods, fires and lava flows demolished a vast majority of microbial life.

Iron Age dog burial found near large boundary/enclosure ditches. (Wessex Archaeology)

Iron Age dog burial found near large boundary/enclosure ditches. (Wessex Archaeology)

Elimination, For The Human Nation

The future intelligence looking backwards in time, according to Dr Plotnick, would discover mostly cows, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, cats and a vast array of undisturbed complete hominid skeletons, ‘all lined up in rows’. And he believes ‘fossilization is a lottery’ in which humankind has taken over the management and has rigged the odds.

To illustrate this point the professor says no primate species on Earth has flourished in such numbers as humans, and our global population has grown rapidly over the last two centuries - and so too have the numbers of domesticated animals greatly multiplied. But only one species on Earth, no prizes for guessing, now threatens to ‘eliminate many of the other inhabitants of the planet’, said Plotnick.

Busting Hawkins Fib

We’ve all been in the company of someone who gets excited telling the story of Dr Stephen Hawking, who said, “more people are alive today than have ever died”, but these folk don’t realize the Professor was way off the mark and simply pulled that statistic out of thin air. In reality, there are currently about 7.5 billion people alive and the Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 billion people have lived and died, so according to a 2012 report by The BBC, we are ‘nowhere near close to having more alive than dead’. In fact, according to BBC writer Wesley Stephenson, there are 15 dead people for every person living and we ‘surpassed seven billion dead way back between 8000BC and AD1.’

Stephen Hawking NASA 50th. (NASA HQ Photo)

Stephen Hawking NASA 50 th. (NASA HQ Photo)

Putting this another way, a Guardian article discussing the ‘mass of humanity’, or how much we all weigh, says that according to one calculation, long ago humans began to outweigh the gross mass of all other wild mammals on the planet, ‘by at least 10-fold’. Therefore, humans stand a much better chance of preservation far into the future, not to mention having cities, industries and constructions adding to trillions of tons of cement and metal, and recently creating a stratum of nearly indestructible plastic cups, bottles, nets, cables and containers.

Dead Humans, All Lined Up For Testing

A December 2017 paper published in the journal PNAS stated that gaps in 3.465-billion-year-old Australian Apex chert rocks once contained ‘microorganisms, the earliest direct evidence of life on Earth’, but erosion, earthquakes and the wearing tests of time have done away with most tangible evidence. According to Dr Plotnick, the chances of long-term preservation of the bones of the blue whale, the African lion, the mountain gorilla, the emperor penguin or even the jungle fowl, ancestor of the broiler chicken, will ‘remain vanishingly small’ but he added that the factory farms and orderly cemeteries of today will dominate any evidence gathered by a yet unknown intelligence.

Dr Plotnick’s report is published in Science Direct by Elsevier publishers,

Top image: Future archaeologists will find mainly neatly arranged human remains, study says.    Source: milkovasa / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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