What Fossils Will We Leave Behind in 65 Million Years?

What Fossils Will We Leave Behind in 65 Million Years?

65 million years ago the dinosaurs died out,
we only know they existed at all because of the tiny amount of their fossilized remains
that have been found and they had endured for about 165 million years. We, modern humans,
on the other hand, have existed for about only 50,000 years and its only the last few
thousand of that that we have had an increasingly significant impact on the planet.
So if tomorrow, a similar type of extinction event were to wipe out the human race and
an archaeologist in the deep future from what every species may have evolved by then was
looking at the fossil record, 65 million years from now, what evidence would be to show that
we had ever existed at all. Intro
All though we like to think we are the culmination of life on earth and the only advanced species
to have built civilizations, cities, spacecraft and discovered much about how our world and
the universe works, we don’t actually know if a similarly intelligent species had existed
before us. If it took us around 6 million years to go
from our last common ancestor with the chimpanzees to sending men to the moon, then what’s
to say that a branch of the dinosaurs didn’t do the same some 71 million years ago and
before they became extinct. We assume that we are the first because we
can not find any evidence to the contrary. We are a creative species, we have taken the
natural resources and created a huge amount of stuff and changed the world we live in,
from plastic ducks to skyscrapers, massive structures like dams and the great wall of
china to the radioactive fallout from nuclear tests. If we have created these then surely
an advanced civilization would have done something similar and there should be some evidence
to show for it. But the planet we live on is incredibly good
at covering the tracks of the past. Just the wind, rain and ice can reduce massive mountain
ranges to sand over millions of years. The land itself shifts, rises and falls, what
was once at the bottom the sea can now be found at the tops of mountains, sea levels
also rise and fall dramatically. The tectonic plates that make up the surface of the earth,
above and below the waves are continuously moving, diving under one another and scrubbing
clean any trace of what came before. So it’s a bit of a miracle that we find
any large remains of dinosaurs or other creatures considering what they have been through. But
what we have to remember is that they existed for over 165 million years, 3300 times longer
than modern humans have been around and the number of creatures that lived in that time
frame alone, not including very small insect-sized ones must be in the trillions.
However, only a tiny number of those would have been in the right conditions to be quickly
covered in sediment and then fossilized. Then millions of years later they happen to be
exposed on the surface at just the right time before they are eroded away for us to find
them. The latest estimate is that the total number
of modern humans to have ever existed over the 50,000 years we have been around is about
107 billion. But 50,000 years is a very small slice of
geological time and all of our 5000 years of recorded history would be a fraction of
that, and the last 200 years or so since the industrial revolution, a tiny fraction of
that again, maybe a razor-thin sliver of a darkened layer somewhere in the dozens of
kilometers of limestone, siltstone, and shale of the future earth’s crust.
Depending on where we look there are gaps covering millions of years in the fossil records,
if we were to slip into one of those, we too would be lost in time.
So what about the things we will leave behind, the cities with all the buildings, roads,
skyscrapers, mines, hardened secure bunkers. Vast man-made concrete structures like dams.
Over 65 million years, none of these would survive the effects of erosion or the coming
ice ages and their crushing multi kilometer thick ice sheets and glaciers scrubbing the
land below clean. Any great city would end up as a flat smudge in a layer of sedimentary
rock. Plastics, the bain of our lives now, would
breakdown over a thousand years or so. Most metals corrode away in a few hundred years
or less. Just look at the wreck of the titanic, 46,000 tons of steel and iron, 3700 meters
deep in the Atlantic, probably one of the best places to be preserved in and yet, it
will have been consumed by iron eating bacteria within a few hundred years. Only objects made
from gold, silver, and platinum on board would survive intact for long enough if protected
from erosion. The radioactive fallout from the atomic tests
in the 50’s and 60’s would have all but disappeared, the longest-lived isotope from
these, iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years, so in 65 million years it will
be pretty much gone. The objects on the moon that we left behind,
should anyone in the future be able to get would not be spared either. They would be
hidden under the gradual accumulation of lunar dust and the weathering effects from the harsh
solar radiation and micrometeorites. The same would happen to the rovers on mars too, only
in a similar way to here on earth. Even the ecological mess and climate change
we are creating would be undone in time. The earth has been through much bigger changes
and survived. The biggest as far as life is concerned was the Permian–Triassic extinction
event about 252 million years ago where 96% of all marine life and 70% of land-based vertebrates
became extinct and co2 levels were 7 times what they are now. The recovery took between
2 and 10 million years and saw the dinosaurs become the dominant species afterward.
Some of the smaller items made we have from glass and some ceramics which are effectively
manmade rocks, could survive if they were protected from erosion but it will be the
unseen effects that will be the biggest giveaways that our technological civilization had ever
existed, though you would need a mass spectrometer to find them.
This would be the huge spike in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere over the last
200 years and the biggest disruption of the nitrogen cycle for 2.5 billion years due to
the use of artificial fertilizers and wastewater runoff. Other things would be noticeable by
their absence, namely the variety of other species, the current extinction rate is up
to a thousand times higher than it would be without us around.
But other than this, in 65 million years, there will almost nothing left on earth to
show for our civilization, our accumulated knowledge, our thoughts, ideas, art and culture
other than a few fossilised bones, some gold & silver jewelry artifacts and maybe some
human footprints beside a long since dried up river bed, if you were lucky enough to
find them at all. No one would have any idea what we were really
like, just like we would have no idea what a previous advanced civilization might have
been like. The irony is that the more ecologically and
in harmony we live with nature now, the less of an impact we will have on the earth for
anyone to find in the future. Equally there if was any previous technological earth-based
civilization that had come to the same conclusion, then the less likely we are to find any trace
of them. However, we will have left behind a handful
objects that will be in pristine condition and would tell any future earthlings a great
deal about us even down to what we look and sound like, if they could find them, because
aren’t on earth. They will be traveling in space, and in 65
million years they will be about 35 quadrillion kilometers away or about 3740 light years.
The space probes Voyager 1 & 2, Pioneer 10 & 11 and New Horizons, far from the sun or
probably any other star for that matter, will most likely outlast the Earth and the Sun,
destined to wander the depths of space until they either crash into something or are picked
up another intelligent species or maybe even our space-faring descendants if we make it
that far. Who knows maybe they will be some 3700 or
so light-years behind the last lot of satellites launched from earth.
So thanks for watching and don’t forget to check out some of our other videos if you
get the time and please subscribe, thumbs up and share.

96 thoughts on “What Fossils Will We Leave Behind in 65 Million Years?

  1. When he refers to 50,000 years he's talking about homo sapiens. Other human species which are now extinct were here much earlier than that.

  2. People 65 million years from now won't have to look at a fossil record to understand us.
    They could just ask Keith Richards.

  3. This is how I like my education channels : well researched subjects, quietly presented, no clickbait, great work as usual!
    Also, on the (fascinating) topic of modern human fossils and archaeology, it is the subject of a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, 'Rescue Party', although on a shorter timescale (and with an interesting ending, it can be read online)

  4. Aluminium. The unnatural concentrations of Aluminium in regular patterns in the strata would be a dead giveaway of intelligent life. Copper cables would produce giveaway patterns too, but could be mistaken for a natural deposit. Not so with aluminium, especially with big chunks of it surviving in low oxygen environments, and the rest steadily accumulating in sediments in a way it just can't do in nature.
    I bet the creatures finding it wouldn't be believed though.

  5. That was brilliant. Recently I was reading a couple Isaac Asimov's novels. They included a similar question – what would happen in several thousands of years, where our civilisation is so advanced that we do not remember our roots and our parent planet. Nice.

  6. How come you didn't mention the Nokia 3310? it would be found in about 65 million years and still have 2 bar of power left and an unread text message from someones exwife
    'You can but you cannot hide'

  7. Not to forget the signals we have sent and are still sending into space every moment – especially the "high quality" TV and Radio programs.^^

  8. We should make things to last longer. We can't make things to last milions of years, but we can make them to last longer than what it can currently last.

  9. Its entirely likely the probes will just float in the black of space and never be seen again till they succumb to atomic decay.

  10. I don't think Humanity will live 65 million years into the future dude look around you this void was created with every odd against us I think it will be a miracle if we survive the next 20

  11. Large bank vaults & some heavy blast-resistant bunker doors ought to survive fairly well, particularly ones made of hardened steel alloys.

  12. There will still be huge number of satellites orbiting the earth!
    True that most of them will fall back due to atmospheric drag or be destroyed by collisions. But there are also a lot of them in geostationary orbit and beyond where they will stay for billions of years. The only thing that can disrupt / destroy those are asteroids, and tiny orbital fluctuations over vast time spans.

  13. I spend a lot of time thinking about this. And yes, a future civilization would be very lucky to find our fossils. But we are creating plenty of them. There's all the drowned people who were never recovered, all the murder victims who were encased in concrete, and all the cemeteries along the Gulf of Mexico and in Micronesia which are sure to be flooded shortly after we stop intervening.

  14. A very interesting thought exercise though there are some dubious postulations in this video. Take for example the assertion that extinction rates of other species of animals are thousands of times higher due to human activity (see IUCN chart @ 7:50): Consider first that it is human activity responsible for gathering data and researching new species, many thousands of new species are discovered each year (better science and more human activity) while scientist estimate there are millions more yet to be discovered. How many species of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms were known and documented in the Sixteenth Century and how can you know something went extinct two or five hundred years ago when you never knew it existed at all? And don't you dare say "fossils".

  15. This reminds me of a video about how there could be a whole fossilized biosphere, complete with a technologically advanced species species such as our own, buried less than two meters below the martian surface, and we would have no way of knowing about it because we haven't dug that far yet…

  16. We have mined a lot of gold. Those ingots in Ft Knox and primary banks will still be around unless they get melted. They might all get crushed and fused together but it will be a solid lump of almost pure gold. Then all the gold jewelry. Unless we do something different there will also be piles of radioactive materials where we're storing nuclear waste. Then we get to the human remains that we have preserved and put in the ground for safe keeping. Depending on conditions those bones may last millions of years. We've also left time capsules of ourselves in the arctic. over 65 million years they may move but again maybe not so much. Many of our landfills are abiotic and things dug up that are a hundred years old look almost new. Of course we've created our own fossils with concrete, Gromans Chinese theater and the Hollywood walk of fame may survive 60 million years as they are already rock. Such art work that include gold and various rock type inlays will last millions of years. You just don't have enough imagination to see all the things humans have created that will last for millions of years. Think of places like Pompeii that have been buried in volcanic ash how well preserved they are. Montserrat for one if no one touches it.

  17. Our knowledge is a by-product of abundant energy. Both are linked. If we use all the resources, future intelligent life will be no more than farmers.

  18. We have a lot of satellites that will still be in orbit.
    Geostationary satellites will take hundreds of millions to billions of years for their orbits to degrade.

    So any future advanced civilization will know of our existence.

  19. You forgot about all the satellites in geostationary orbit and space probes located at Lagrange points. It would also take a considerable amount of time to restore the crude oil levels to before the industrial age. So we would definitely know about any previous advanced technological civilization. You also forgot the fact that not all land has been pushed under the earths mantel for the last 4 billion years. That is how we started out measuring the age of our planet.

  20. Soil bacteria did evolve a lot, so the likeliness of future fossils sinks. At least the erosion did slow down slightly, because the earth doesn't rotate as fast anymore and the moon is tidally locked now. If we had intelligent ancestors, before a time that we can find traces of, they would have had to deal with earthquakes and a much harsher environment.

  21. "Millions," "Billions" "Zillions" BS!! Take at least three zeros off, if not 6 and you are still way too far back .. Old "establish knowledge ".. A load of rubbish!
    Like the current magnetic pole shift .. some say its 600,000 years … BS !!
    Reliable records show that It happened 12,000 years ago .. MOT MORE!

  22. George Carlin once did a sly bit about how foolish it is to say we are killing the earth. The part about killing ourselves in the process was left unsaid.

  23. It will be an evolved cockroach species, still small, and the world will be much larger to them than it is to us. They will consider us to have been a giant species of apes. They will find the remains to fossilized tools we used like the Nokia 3310 and using a crane, they will put it in the mouth of fossilized remains of a person displayed in their museum… assuming this is how we used it to build the many walls and fences they will find on high grounds.

  24. This makes me enjoy the finer things in today's life even more. Now I wanna go speeding in a Maserati because at this point in history… we can!

  25. I think a video on what might survive would also be interesting. At Mount Rushmore they dug a chamber that contains porcelain tablets engraved with the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. I wonder how long those would survive and if there are similar structures around the world…

  26. You would probably see a geological layer with a very weird enrichment of rare earth metals, semi-conductors, iron, carbon and nuclear fission products.

  27. I though satellites at L2 orbit will remain until the sun expands. Every technological civilization will rediscover LeGrange points, so they’ll either look there or they’ll find our remnants when they go to put their own satellites up.

  28. how about minerals redistribution? I think that cities might leave kind of a splodge of some, possibly, new ore, same with roads, though that might be bio-degradable. finally the rare earth metals being more spread-out then they should be would give away that we got to that point in technology. although all of those aren't exactly fossils, are they? actually, if we didn't dig up Pompeians, wouldn't they be fossils?

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  30. I have often pondered this but until now did not realise how possible it could actually be. Nice video I have watched many of your videos but for some reason I have not subscribed, easily fixed 😀 ~706K + 1

  31. Thank you for bringing this theory alight, look at ichthyeosaurs. i think if they were around then there could well be an reptile humunoide species

  32. Man made GLOBAL warming is a hoax. Wake up! I thought this channel didn’t believe in junk science? After almost 2 years of faithful watching, what a let down. It does not exist on a global scale. This video could of been the best yet. Too bad.

  33. The hundreds of millions of miles of buried fiber optic cable, as well as many types of buried plastic like gas pipe of it says in the dark. Remember Cole is older than the dinosaurs, is carbon and can burn but it's still here.

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