What was the first SciFi work that theorized that Homo Sapiens were seeded on Earth by intelligent aliens (as opposed to all the other Earth species which evolved separately)?

The earliest one I can think of was David Weber's Dahak trilogy (aka "Empire from the Ashes", but the first book was only released in 1991 ("Mutineer's Moon") and I am pretty sure the idea predates that. In the book, modern humans are descendants of the crew of a planetoid-sized warship stranded in Solar system 50,000 years ago.

The question is very specific to aliens seeding Humans as a species as-is. The answers where life in general was seeded prior to Humans evolving from that earlier life (ala Star Trek's Preservers from "The Chase"); or Humans existed but were raised to intelligence (ala "2001") are NOT what I'm looking for.

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    Are there Scifi works that theorize homo-sapiens being seeded by unintelligent aliens?
    – Xantec
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 15:44
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    @Xantec - HS probably no, but there probably are plenty covering Panspermia theory) which frequently is sourced in non-intelligent "biological contamination" from elsewhere. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 15:48
  • Is this limited to modern works of fiction, or are ancient stories acceptable? Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:12
  • @GorchestopherH - ancient stories are acceptable, but must involve "normal" extraterrestrial aliens originated on other planets, and not gods - which would probably disqualify most/all of them. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:14
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    At a time when kings were often deified, it is mostly impossible to expect that beings with abilities outside of their own means were not coined "gods". Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:26

6 Answers 6


H. Beam Piper's Paratime series takes as its premise the idea that humans came originally from Mars. In the first story to explain this ("Police Operation" (1948)) we have

"Purely arbitrary terms. There are five main probability levels, derived from the five possible outcomes of the attempt to colonize this planet, seventy-five thousand years ago. We're on the First Level—complete success, and colony fully established. The Fifth Level is the probability of complete failure—no human population established on this planet, and indigenous quasi-human life evolved indigenously. On the Fourth Level, the colonists evidently met with some disaster and lost all memory of their extraterrestrial origin, as well as all extraterrestrial culture. As far as they know, they are an indigenous race; they have a long pre-history of stone-age savagery.

"Sectors are areas of paratime on any level in which the prevalent culture has a common origin and common characteristics. They are divided more or less arbitrarily into sub-sectors. Belts are areas within sub-sectors where conditions are the result of recent alternate probabilities. For instance, I've just come from the Europo-American Sector of the Fourth Level, an area of about ten thousand parayears in depth, in which the dominant civilization developed on the North-West Continent of the Major Land Mass, and spread from there to the Minor Land Mass. The line on which I was operating is also part of a sub-sector of about three thousand parayears' depth, and a belt developing from one of several probable outcomes of a war concluded about three elapsed years ago. On that time-line, the field at the Hagraban Synthetics Works, where we took off, is part of an abandoned farm; on the site of Hagraban City is a little farming village. Those things are there, right now, both in primary time and in the plenum. They are about two hundred and fifty thousand parayears perpendicular to each other, and each is of the same general order of reality."

So our civilization is on the Fourth Level - we came from Mars, but don't know it.

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    As noted by other works, this isn't even close to the first. Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 15:55
  • Someday I'll learn to read the rest of the thread more carefully.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 16:02
  • I read right past the 1897 example.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 23:32

Chad Oliver's 1959 novelette "Transfusion" (first published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1959, available at the Internet Archive) was not the first, but it's a very good example of that microgenre.

But you asked for the first one. In his book Science-Fiction: The Early Years Everett F. Bleiler reviews virtually every work of science fiction ever written, from the beginning of time to 1930. The index lists 15 works under the heading "Human race originated elsewhere", classified as follows:

Alpha centauri (1)
Hollow earth (5)
Mars (2)
Mercury (1)
Moon (6)
Nevada (1)
Saturn (1)
Space spirits, plus pithecanthropus (1)
Venus (1)

These add up to more than 15 because one story has repeated colonizations of earth from different planets. After discarding hollow earth, Nevada, and space spirits as not the kind of "elsewhere" we're looking for, the earliest one seems to be "The Judgment Day in the Moon", a short story by Walter Malone, included in his collection The Coming of the King, Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1897. Here is Bleiler's review of the story:

Hot romance in the past on the moon. * The moon is gradually losing its atmosphere, and the human population has dwindled to a couple of hundred. The great scientist Darus has constructed a spaceship that will take the survivors to the earth, which is still in the mastodon stage and without a human population. The spaceship can leave only at certain planetary conjunctions. * A complication exists in Princess Callistano. Her people and family were killed in war by Prince Lileo, who has since become her lover. She still loves him, but he is tired of her and plans to abandon her on the moon when the spaceship leaves. * Callistano, however, is not so easily rebuffed. She serves Lileo violently aphrodisiacal wine, and the spaceship leaves while they are making love. On discovering what has happened, Lileo dies of apoplexy, and Callistano does not survive him long. The human race on the moon is dead, but presumably the people on the spaceship were our ancestors. * Written in very purple prose. The story benefits from summary.

Note: Bleiler gives the story title as "The Judgment Day in the Moon", but the ISFDB has it as "The Judgment Day of the Moon".

  • Holy cow, 1897 -- I would not have guess so early but many inventions, literary and technical, have surprised me with the date they were first created -- did you know there were air rifles in the 17th century?? I was office by a couple hundred years on that one, figuring mid 19th century.
    – releseabe
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 0:03
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    Humans placed on Earth by an alien? How about the Bible?
    – GordonD
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 10:01

There are several works with the more plausible premise that humans were removed from Earth at some point in our evolutionary history, and then returned later. The earliest of which I'm aware is James P Hogan's Inherit the Stars (1977).

Otherwise, there's Larry Niven's Known Space series, where humans are descendants of Pak Protectors. Protector was published in 1973. Protectors are hominids, but not human (except Jack Brennan), so I think they should count as aliens.

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    Niven introduces the Pak as early as "The Adults" in 1967. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:35
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    Protectors were not mentioned in Ringworld.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 17:27
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    @MikeScott They do in the Ringworld Trillogy. Is it not till the second book (Engineers) that they mention them? Either way "The Adults" is part one of "The Protectors", and predates it by 6 years. I believe, but do not have a quotation, that the Pak were described as ancestors to humanity in "The Adults". Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 17:52
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    Come to think of it, "Bordered in Black" also uses the seeding hypothesis, though not of Earth. That was published in 1966. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 21:11
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    @MarkBeadles In World of Ptavvs, humans may or may not have descended from thrintun food yeast, over 1.5 billion years. It's certainly not an example of seeding a planet with human beings, or anything approximating to human beings.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 13:50

Ark B from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980) probably qualifies. A ship full of the useless members of another planet are shipped off and crash land on Earth, where they eventually usurp the native population.

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    Actually, that idea was already present in the original radio series, which aired in 1978. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 8:05

L. Ron Hubbard wrote OT III in 1967. It's about an evil alien overlord accidentally seeding the Earth with humans while trying to kill them:

The kidnapped populace was loaded into spacecraft for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). [...] When they had reached Teegeeack, the paralyzed citizens were unloaded around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were then lowered into the volcanoes and detonated simultaneously, killing all but a few aliens.

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    Is that you, Tom? Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 3:11
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    @DVK I don't think this the earliest. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 12:50
  • @MarkBeadles - I commented on your answer. "World of Ptavvs" needs an elaboration. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 13:10

H. Beam Piper's story Genesis, in 1951, told of a colony ship to Tareesh from the dying planet Doorsha. An accident destroys the ship and only a single lifeboat makes it to Tareesh containing 2 men and 6 women. The lifeboat itself explodes leaving the survivors with a few armfuls of supplies and weapons.

The story follows their struggle to survive, raise children to keep the tribe growing despite their struggle with the brutish manlike creatures there. At the last it is revealed that Tareesh is Earth, Doorsha Mars.

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