"Take me to your ant."
Thus, says the latest NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, an extraterrestrial ambassador might greet us. We think of ourselves as the Earth's dominant species. According to that issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, however, one expert estimates that there are between a thousand trillion and ten thousand trillion ants in the world at any given time. And that's just ants. When you add in all the other species of insects, seven billion human beings are astronomically outnumbered. Alien visitors might reasonably decide, from initial observation, that insects are the dominant life form on this planet. After all, they're not only the most numerous land-based multicellular animals, they communicate among themselves, many of them build structures, and some even keep other insects as livestock. Objectively speaking, how does Homo sapiens stack up by comparison? Maybe the aliens would think we exist to feed roaches, ants, and mosquitoes.
If they spent a longer period watching us more closely, on the other hand, they might decide the North American land mass is ruled by cats and dogs. These creatures obviously keep human beings as servants.
Or robotic ETs might try to establish contact with our machines—or our computers, regarding us as these obviously superior beings' inefficient but necessary caretakers. (I remember once seeing a cartoon image of a robot trying to talk to a parking meter.)
If you've seen the STAR TREK movie about the ENTERPRISE going back in time to retrieve a pair of whales, you'll remember that the invading aliens in that film had no interest in communicating with us. They wanted to talk to the whales.
Maybe we should be nicer to our potential interstellar diplomats?
Margaret L. Carter
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