Scientists have dedicated countless hours of research to looking for signs of extraterrestrial life, to no avail.

A new report suggests a novel reason for this: perhaps we haven’t found aliens because they’ve already gone extinct.

While researching how life might develop on other planets, Dr. Aditya Chopra from the Australian National University Research School of Earth Sciences and co-author Charley Lineweaver from the ANU Planetary Science Institute, realized that new life forms would have a hard time evolving fast enough to deal with runaway heating or cooling on their planets. Thus, they propose, alien life could have emerged and then perished before we had a chance to find it.

“The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens,” Chopra said in a press release. “Early life is fragile, so we believe it rarely evolves quickly enough to survive.”

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