What Humans Might Look Like in the Future

January 19, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

Skulls of ancient hominids
Photo credit: Brent Danley/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

We could evolve to have webbed toes, or fewer teeth.

According to paleoanthropologist Dr. Matthew Skinner from the University of Kent, humans will dramatically evolve to adjust to our changing planet.  But depending on what direction humanity goes, these traits will vastly differ — and they all look bizarre.

Scenario #1: Water World

In this scenario, all ice has melted resulting in an unprecedented rise in sea-levels.  This rise ultimately forces humans to adapt to an underwater world.  In this world, humans become fishlike — developing artificial gills and transparent eyelids to help humans see underwater.  Since humans will now have gills, lungs will not need to be as big, so our ribcages would shrink to reflect this.  The transparent eye is something called a nictitating membrane — essentially a third eyelid which protects the eye in an underwater environment.

To help humans swim better, there may also be a lengthening of our fingers and toes which could cause us to evolve webbing in between them.

Scenario #2: Ice Age

In this scenario, Earth is either hit by an asteroid or some dramatic event, such as increased volcanic activity, that causes a lot of dust and moisture to enter the atmosphere, blocking out the sun.  This lack of sunlight would cause the temperatures to drop, resulting in a second ice age.

In order for humans to absorb a good amount of Vitamin D, our skin could become paler, our hair lighter, and to stay warm, we would see an overall increase of hair on our bodies.  I know all the ladies reading this are super thrilled about that one.

SEE ALSO: How Evolution Made Humans the Best Long-Distance Runners on Earth

Not only that, our nose and face would swell in size to help cold air be warmed when inhaled.  And since modern technology would now be lacking, physical strength would become more important for survival, meaning men would assert their physical dominance to attract women.

Scenario #3: Colonize a New Planet

In this scenario, humans have depleted all the resources on Earth and are forced to colonize other planets and live within closed environments.  Since our food may now be in liquid or pill form, the pressure on our jaws would relax causing them to get smaller and our teeth would reduce in size, or even partially disappear.

Moreover, the changes to our bodies would include the development of opposable big toes that move like thumbs, to allow us to grip with our feet in weightless environments.

Now, most people find it very, very unlikely that humans would evolve any of these traits, and keep in mind that Skinner only developed these scenarios as a challenge and a media stunt for the launch of Extant Season 2 on the Sci Fi Channel.  You can watch the YouTube video of Skinner explaining his theories here.

Honestly, I am sure we are all hoping that Earth does not succumb to any of these scenarios.  However, if you are wondering how these body changes would appear esthetically, take a look.  This is an artist’s interpretation of what humans would evolve to in each scenario.

artist's concept of future men


 Photo credit: Sci Fi Channel Europe LLC

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