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"The Possessed" is a science fiction short story by Arthur C. Clarke, first published in 1953.
The Possessed (short story) Wikipedia
The story deals with a kind of parasitic aliens that do not have a physical body, and must colonize the minds of some intelligent beings to enjoy life. The world of their hosts is destroyed in some kind of a catastrophe, and they travel through space in search of another suitable host.
They ultimately land on primeval earth where there is life but no intelligence. So they must nudge some species towards becoming intelligent, in a manner reminiscent of the first chapter in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The end reveals the modern versions of hosts these aliens chose. We come to know that, sadly, they bet on the wrong animal.
The story appears in the following collections.Reach for Tomorrow
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke
More Than One Universe