In Ridley Scott's movie "Prometheus" at the beginning

one of the Engineers uses the Black Liquid to begin life on Earth (or some other planet).

My question is, if Engineers seed life and create it on fertile planets from scratch, how can the evolutionary path from a single primitive organism result in a Engineer-looking intelligent life form (in this case humans)?

Having in mind that complex DNA strands on primitive Earth wouldn't be even compatible - because according to evolutionary history, our DNA was the result of primitive life forms evolving on Earth for billions of years and the pathway was steered by changing climate, major catastrophes and several massive extinctions with the last one leading to the rise of mammals and extinction of dinosaurs - the only way human DNA would be almost exactly identical is if the Engineers introduced their genetic code during the rise of the first primates.

Is Ridley giving the finger to all discoveries that humanity made that explain our evolutionary origins, and the science of biology in general, or is it some Engineer bio technology yet to be introduced in the sequel?

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    You believe evolutionary history? The Bible tells us that God created the world and all that is on it 6,000 years ago! Ridley Scott tells us that God is in fact a bald, blue-ish humanoid with ill-defined motivations and biotechnology that creates muddy, confusing narratives and distracting plot holes! Is this not enough for you? Heretic! Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:11
  • Even if you speak sarcastically, why Bible myths should be brought in the genre of science fiction as the source of true events? Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:29
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    What? we are just another iteration of the AC en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Question
    – jsedano
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:31
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    @anakata: :) If you look closely at the black liquid, it’s actually water with a bunch of tiny 42s in it. Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:32
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    Paul, that in fact would answet everything and definitelly please me :D Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


In universe:

It is clear that the engineers are far more advanced than humans, what seems impossible to us (almost magical) is only a part of science that we don't understand/discover yet

Out universe:

Because it helps the whole plot, engineers have a black liquid that gives life through sacrifice, they also have a black goo that destroys life.

Also, it is not seed life and create it on fertile planet from scratch as stated in your question, life was already present on the planet they were seeding.

From here: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/24607/how-long-is-the-alternate-ending-of-prometheus-and-is-it-canon (that is actually taken from the Prometheus Blu-ray)

Scene 7: Arrival of the Engineers

The Engineers touch down on prehistoric Earth for a sacred ritual devoted to the seeding of Intelligent life. Whereas the Theatrical version of the scene is devoted to the Lone Sacrifice Engineer, this early cut features several of his comrades, including the Elder Engineer. The ceremony was filmed with dialogue but unsatisfied with the result, Ridley Scott removed the dialogue entirely.

  • "life was already present on the planet they were seeding" - was it? Did we see any on the planet at the start of the movie? Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:08
  • Thanks for the answer and thanks for pointing out the error I've made with the wrongly formulated statement, but besides this, this still boggles my mind. If the history of Earth isn't identical to Engies homeworld, the only way DNa could have became so simmilar is if the process was observed or governed by some sort of catalyst. Actually, when I think about it, maybe the Black Goo is a tech that filters which genetic changes should be kept from the primitive form to the point of engineer-looking species. A super advanced form of farming and artificial selection, maybe? Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:16
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    @anakata: I see your point. The intelligent life would probably be in trouble if there wasn’t some unintelligent life around to provide food and ensure the ecosystem works. Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 15:33
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    @PaulD.Waite: In the opening scene of the movie, you see a flyover of the landscape, and there is clearly green vegetation covering the otherwise black/grey landscape. Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 22:29
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    @PaulD.Waite Also note that the Engineers wear no life support equipment, and they're shown to breathe similar atmosphere as we do, which suggests the atmosphere was already oxygenated. As far as we can tell, molecular oxygen (which is quite reactive) only started accumulating on Earth after life "discovered" photosynthesis, and even then only after all the oxygen sinks (like the iron dissolved in the oceans) were filled. The green plants seen among the rocks are on land, which on Earth required the ozone layer, which again requires plenty of oxygen. And they are green :P
    – Luaan
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 13:46

Yes, Ridley Scott was divorcing human biology and evolution from hundreds of years of scientific discovery by making The Engineers responsible for human life on Earth. The franchise presupposes that human beings did not evolve from a common ancestor as Earth's primates but from a genetic experiment created by an alien race. How this is suppose to explain the genetic commonalities between humans and Earth primates is never delved into as it would probably create more plot holes in the film's logic than it would resolve.

What Prometheus fails to address is that if human beings are created from Engineer's DNA and genetically compatible with them then either humans are Engineers or the inverse. Had the film's protagonists simply performed genetic tests upon the DNA of the Engineers ( they and a Engineer's decapitated head to do this and it really should have been their initial test) they would have discovered this for themselves. How human physiology could have diverged so widely from that the Engineer's is also never explained if the Engineer's simply supplied DNA material and didn't perform any further testing is also hand waved in the interest of creating an entertaining narrative.

  • In-universe, I don't think that's really a contradiction - we don't see the genetic material directly creating humans. Given how much Prometheus builds on genetic manipulation, I'd put it as some kind of a mutagen that influenced the existing species on Earth (just like the Xenomorphs themselves do, just on a different scale), and managed to produce an intelligent being as an offshoot of primates in a few million years (and possibly, other sentients that didn't make it).
    – Luaan
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 13:50

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