You did read that right.

Universe is 13.7 BYA - Earth only (!) 4.5ish.

We're in the stelifarous period now, but that will last way longer than our sun; and has been around for quite a while.

That might mean that life existed and perished long before our Earth was even created from the dust clouds of long-dead stars; and may reappear long after our sun has died.

I'm sure this has been proposed before, but the possibilities are fascinating; anyone got any thoughts on it?

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It would appear that there certainly was time before the birth of the earth some 4 billion years ago and the birth of the universe more than 13 billion years ago for life to have occurred on 3'rd generation star systems created earlier than Sol star system. They would only have had to be a blink of an eye (50,000 years) older than the earth to be as much advanced as we are over the first true humans.
I much prefer pondering in wonder and awe at these possibilities that are based in as much reality as we currently know about – rather than wasting my time listening to others in fantasy of supernatural possibilities – which of course we can rule out right now!
I think the universe is likely teeming with life - even life "as we know it".  The necessary chemistry exists throughout the universe as far as we know as does the same chemical energetics. Further, new evidence suggests that the number of Red Dwarfs in our galaxy will increases the estimated number of stars in it to 600 – 800 billion stars - Red Dwarfs are capable of harboring life supporting planets (they are also the longest lived suns).
I would find the complete absences of life in our galaxy other than our own to be astounding. And, given the fact that we are in the middle of the Stelliferous Era and that life emerged on earth a shade over 1 billion years after its formation, it seems very likely that life and intelligence existed before the earth was around.
There could be civilizations that emerged and died out long before us and ones that will arise after us.




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