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Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology
http://sfrpg-discussion.net/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=3229
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Author:  Golan2072 [ Sun Nov 05, 2017 7:30 am ]
Post subject:  Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

One phenomenon in my These Stars Are Ours! (TSAO) setting are the Gardeners - a hypothetical alien species who lived approximately 65 million years ago, and said to be responsible for terraformation and spreading Cretaceous Terran life to multiple star-systems. They are long gone. The K-Pg (also known as K-T) extinction event on Terra might have been part of, or side effect of, their demise.

What evidence will we find today of them? Fossilized remains of their exoskeletons? Imprints of their technology in rocks alongside their fossils? Imprints of their buildings in rock formations?

Also, what would happen to their remains in space - say, a dead Gardener in vacc suit in some cave (thus at least partially shielded from radiation and temperature differentials) on an airless world, or a dead hollowed-up asteroid generation ship? What will remain of these after 65 million years in hard vaccum?

Author:  Sir Chaos [ Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

Wouldn´t the same conditions that allow for formation of fossils also greatly reduce the rate at which materials other than dead bodies deteriorate? I mean, if a Gardener died under the same circumstances as some of the dinosaurs did that we´re admiring in the museums today, wouldn´t any equipment they might have been carrying have lasted long enough to be excavated along with the remains of the Gardener themselves? I doubt we´d anything functional or even just repairable, but there´d be enough left to make it clear to us that this creature died clutching a technologically advanced tool, not a sharpened rock.

Speaking of fossils: Wouldn´t it be the ultimate joke if Gardeners, or at least their skeletons, looked similar enough to late Cretaceous life on Earth that their fossilized remains are mistaken for some sort of late dinosaur species, if they are found without any equipment?

Author:  thrash [ Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

First thing to remember is that the Earth (and presumably other worlds with active plate tectonics) looked very different 66 million years ago: here's one map. So, you're not likely to find anything in the Himalayas -- they didn't start forming until ~50 Mya -- and if you did, it would more likely be a former beach resort than a ski lodge.

Second, the most probable find is some kind of structure: walls, tunnels, foundations. The regular pattern is the give-away. Unless your Gardeners are fanatic recyclers (which they might well be), the next most likely are garbage dumps or landfills. These tend to be big, stable, used over long periods of time, and contain all kinds of durable goods. Look in areas that would have been useful then but are remote now (since we haven't found anything yet). That long bay on the east side of the Andes looks promising: a site on the eastern shore or up a tributary valley could have been uplifted whole as the mountains built and then covered by jungle.

Author:  Golan2072 [ Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

They terraformed many worlds. I wonder if some of the large-scale terraformation works - such as orbital mirrors or moholes - would leave telltale signs even after tens of millions of years.

I imagine them quite different from Terran vertebrate life, though mostly compatible in basic biochemistry. Maybe they were mistaken for some large cephalopod fossil? :twisted:

Author:  thrash [ Sun Nov 05, 2017 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Have your characters looked for ruined cities on sea mounts near Point Nemo?

A mohole might still be detectable, if it wasn't near a subduction zone, but would be a pretty small target.

There's effectively no way a mirror would still be in its original orbit after 66 million years. You might find the anomalous crater where it crashed into something else, however.

Author:  Jame Rowe [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 2:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

Golan2072 wrote:
One phenomenon in my These Stars Are Ours! (TSAO) setting are the Gardeners - a hypothetical alien species who lived approximately 65 million years ago, and said to be responsible for terraformation and spreading Cretaceous Terran life to multiple star-systems. They are long gone. The K-Pg (also known as K-T) extinction event on Terra might have been part of, or side effect of, their demise.

What evidence will we find today of them? Fossilized remains of their exoskeletons? Imprints of their technology in rocks alongside their fossils? Imprints of their buildings in rock formations?

Also, what would happen to their remains in space - say, a dead Gardener in vacc suit in some cave (thus at least partially shielded from radiation and temperature differentials) on an airless world, or a dead hollowed-up asteroid generation ship? What will remain of these after 65 million years in hard vaccum?


Soooo ... are they beings that evolved ON Terra during the Cretaceous?

Author:  Sir Chaos [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

thrash wrote:
There's effectively no way a mirror would still be in its original orbit after 66 million years. You might find the anomalous crater where it crashed into something else, however.


Could a shattered mirror, or a set of shattered mirrors, leave a ring of glass shards around a planet?

Author:  Agemegos [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

Every time the question arises as to what traces of human life on Earth might survive a million years if we all died tomorrow (e.g. from a plague contracted from an unexpectedly dirty telephone) I remind myself that there survive from the Age of Dinosaurs both (1) eggshells, an epitome of fragility, and (b) footprint in sand, an epitome of impermanence.

Author:  Agemegos [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

Sir Chaos wrote:
Could a shattered mirror, or a set of shattered mirrors, leave a ring of glass shards around a planet?


Glass is an unlikely material for an orbital mirror. It's more likely to be made of a film of high-strength organic coated with a very thin film of metal (like aluminised mylar) stretched over some sort of tensioning structure. It wouldn't shatter, but be eroded away by micrometeroidic dust.

Author:  Cyborg IM1 [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ancient Xeno-"archaeology"/paleontology

Remember, that what we dig up isn't the actual eggshell or dino bone, but mineralized deposits that have replaced the bone through the eons. Metal parts would simply rust away - you might have a few fossil sites with slightly higher mineral content in a patch nearby, but that is also unlikely to be detected as the deposit would be quite small and may have moved during the 65-million years. Even plastics and other polymers have broken down over the time. After all, heat etc. still affected the area.

At best, you would have trace anomolies near certain dino fossils - of course the Gardeners, not being that similar to our dinosaurs, would likely be interpreted as a mixture of dino bones, perhaps the remains of a meal and assigned to the Unidentified File.

In space, it is much more likely that the basic object would still be around. Nothing would work. Millions of years of ionizing radiation and micro-meteor impacts would make most of them fused solid. The closer they were to the habitable zone, the more damage. I would suspect that something in Earth/Lunar orbit for 65-70 million years would look like a weird asteroid with unusual compositions rather than something recognizable as an alien vessel. In the outer planetary system, they would be better preserved, provided they were not too close to a magnetic field or other fun planetary phenomena.

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