Could it be that Homo sapiens is the first intelligent species in the cosmos? Given the number of planets now known to pepper space, that seems unlikely.
Nonetheless, Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb and his colleagues point out that the overwhelming majority of intelligent species are still in the future. While humans are probably not the first, it may be true that humans are trailblazers when it comes to intelligence.
How could this be? Seth Shostak writes about the idea for NBC’s tech/science page here: http://www.nbcnews.com/mach/space/are-we-ancient-aliens-n695456