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Re: mass extinctions and DDT

Hi all,

An old question I would like to reintroduce:

"If human beings were to become extinct in the next 500 years due to global warming, pestilence or other catastrophy, what if anything would remain of our civilization to reveal us to the next superspecies, 65 million years from now?"

Sounds like you've been watching "The Planet of the Apes" a lot.
Its an interesting question- the reshuffling of biogeography would be the biggest biotic impact. We'd probably leave a lot of other traces. 2 x 4s, plywood, particle board, shipwrecks, telephone poles and shingles would preserve as coalified and silicified wood. Cinder blocks, bricks, concrete hunks of skyscraper, old chunks of freeway would preserve pretty much as they were. Glass- windows, beads, bottles, old telephone insulators, obsidian arrowheads- would remain, as would ceramics: pottery shards, broken dishes, roofing tiles, bathroom tiles, teapots, sinks, bathtubs. Offhand I'd guess that in the right chemical conditions, metals and plastics would also preserve. Not to mention that small but probably detectable levels of chemical residue would remain in the sediments- things like industrial by-products, fossil fuel residues, heavy metals, fallout from all those H-bomb tests over the years. Finally, ourselves- since we tend to bury ourselves, that gives us a big headstart on entering the fossil record. It might not be that abundant after 65 million years, but some of it would enter the geological record, and it would be pretty hard for a geologist to ignore this kind of stuff- conglomerates made of cinderblocks and the like.
The thought of future paleontologists yelling at each other over the proper system of taxonomy for coke bottles and toilet bowls is just hilarious.


"Oh I was wrong/It was Earth all along/You've finally made a monkey out of me!" -Planet of the Apes: The Musical; as featured on The Simpsons