It is now considered probable that the dinosaurs were not the lumbering clods of urban myth but that they were biochemically and behaviorally as sophisticated as present mammals. Evidence continues to point to parentling and social behavior that is on a par wit small mammals and birds. ... [Considero] the small carnivorous dinosaur Stenonychosaurus, which stood about 120cm, weighed about 40 kg, and had [a brain size ratio] about equal to that of a possum or an octopus, and lived over 12 million years before the end of the dinosaurs. ...
One might speculate that perhaps Stenonychosaurus or her progeny did build radio telescopes, but their civilization was destroyed by some internal or external catastrophe. Perhaps the lifetime of their civilization was so short compared with the resolution of the geological record (typically millions of years) that it is simply lost without a trace in the depths of time. It is difficult to say what evidence would survive of human civilization - if it was terminated now - after 65 million years of tectonic activity, erosion, and sea level change. It is interesting to note that there is one place where the record of human technology will be preserved for times much longer than 100 million years. ... The Apollo landing sites on the Moon would bear mute testimony to technological humans.
- The first story I read that suggested that dinos evolved into smarter creatures than we realized was Barry B. Longyear's The Homecoming, in which intelligent descendants of the dinosaurs return to Earth.
- Then, of course there is Robert J. Sawyer's Quintaglio Ascension trilogy features an intelligent race evolved from dinosaurs living on the planet Quintaglio. Be sure to read his essay about the evolution of the Quintaglios from Nanotyrannus.
For more about detecting alien life, see this July 2006 interview with Chris McKay in Astrobiology Magazine.
Image: Illustration from Space.com "Cosmic Cannon: How an Exploding Star Could Fry Earth"
Tags:science fiction, dinosaurs, moon