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Memories of the 28th Century

Future Evolution

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I realize that I claimed that evolution had ended, but that may have been slightly exaggerated. While humans were essentially built the way they are quite a while ago, it appears that evolution is continuing in the same direction now. You have probably read ideas of humans turning into lightly muscled large brained animals with no hair at all in the future. That isnít how evolution has been going over the last thirty thousand years.

Brain size has actually fallen a bit, especially if one looks at Neanderthals for comparison, but the size of the brain has little to do with intelligence, but there is a good correlation with body size. Body size may continue to increase, but there is less need for large bodies and big muscles in men, except as characteristics for attracting women.

Similarly, it appears that body hair isnít disappearing in either sex. The hairs act as alarms for the presence of insects in both sexes; although most women in the U.S. shave much of the hair that is left; thus reducing the effectiveness, but flies landing directly on skin are as noticeable as ones that land on hairs. Otherwise, hair is sexually attractive in one way or another. Long, healthy hair on women shows that the women are healthy. Head hair on men is lost in proportion to how much testosterone they produce; thus showing women which men are more masculine. Facial hair on men has a similar effect. And pubic hair in both sexes shows sexual maturation. So there are no good reasons for humans to become completely hairless, at least not in the foreseeable future.

I can imagine humans looking essentially the same for tens of thousands of years to come, and as far as general appearance goes there is little reason for humans to change. There are several characteristics that seem to be changing including dentition, but it remains to be seen what will happen with the second molar. Opinions among the professionals vary on the question, and there was an interesting article about the future of evolution in National Geographic in 2009 . The article has some good ideas, and some that seem a bit far out, but my future horizon for what humans will be like is only about five thousand years in the future. Beyond a few thousand years it will become less and less easy to predict what humans will be like, and there is a real possibility that humans on different planets will evolve differently. This article also points out that humans appear to evolving into larger, more muscular bodies. One possibility that this and other articles suggest is the merging of regional differences, and that is consistent with what has happened in the last half million years, when humans went from being several regional races that were heading toward becoming separate species into a single race with progressively more similar appearances.

The listverse article suggests that humans may have a weakened immune system, but the arguments could also point toward a stronger immune system. It has some other ideas, but most are the same old thing.

Thereís a Fox news piece that is interesting, but weíll have to wait and see. is a whole site that explores evolution. This site appears to be wise enough to have multiple possibilities, so they may be right, and engineering is a large part of the predicted future. Over the decades I have read a great deal of science fiction, so I have read many ideas about the future of humans, but conclusion is that there wonít be a huge difference. There may be little improvements in teeth and eyes, but humans are designed for a variety of tasks and roles. And when we look backward humans havenít changed physically very much since settled living situations were first introduced, so it is possible that we build for what we are, or that humans are adaptable for many kinds of situations or roles. In the last hundred thousand years there have been huge changes in technology, and the technology is adapted to humans. Certainly medical technology has eliminated some of the reasons for evolution. We no longer have to evolve to fight many infections, but that has not decreased the power of the human immune system.

So what do you think?

I would love to be writing this a few tens of thousands of years from now, when some of the answers and trends would be clear.

Updated 07-08-2014 at 07:37 PM by PeterL