As humans, we always tend to wrongfully assume that we are the final product of millions of years of evolution. But the truth is, Homo sapiens as a species are continuously evolving. Much to our surprise, scientists claim that currently, humans are evolving at a faster rate than at any point in the last 250 years.
Since evolution occurs throughout hundreds of thousands of years, evolutionary changes generally go unnoticed, if not studied with special care. Most scientists agree that in the future, after thousands of years of evolution, humans will look different. But the exact changes and the extent of changes aren’t known yet. A few years ago, a scientist and an artist came together to predict these changes, and the results are pretty interesting.
Evolution Of The Face In Hundred Thousand Years
Nickolay Lamm, artist and researcher, and Dr. Alan Kwan, a computational geneticist, collaborated and came up with three illustrations in 2007. Initially, they illustrated the appearance of humans in 20,000 years. Then, they hypothesized how humans might look in 60,000 and 100,000 years.
With the contribution of human evolution, technological advancements, and genetic engineering, Lamm and Kwan could imagine the possible future of humans. In this hypothesized future, humans live in a much different environment than the present one, and we have better control over the human genome. Below mentioned are some of the possible changes, and the reasons behind them.
#1 A Larger Forehead
Since the 14th and 15th centuries, the human forehead has continued to enlarge. When ancient skulls and today’s skulls are compared, present humans have a higher forehead and less prominent facial features. Therefore, it’s logical to assume that in the future too, skulls would enlarge to accommodate larger and larger brains.
#2 Facial Features Might Change
Thanks to advancements in genetic engineering, some of Kwan’s assumptions suggest that humans will be even further ahead sixty thousand years from now. His arguments depict that if humans gain a greater ability to control the human genome, evolution won’t have a considerable impact on the facial features of humans. However, facial features will change according to human preferences. Some of the predicted changes include larger eyes, a straighter nose, and greater symmetry between the two sides of the face.
Also, he suggested that humans might be colonizing other planets by this time. When people live further from the sun, they get exposed to a lesser amount of sunlight. When this happens, their vision should be enhanced. Therefore, their eyes will grow bigger. In order to minimize the damage caused by UV rays outside Earth’s protective atmosphere, the skin of humans will grow darker.
In addition, Kwan suggests that humans will grow thicker eyebrows. Also, the frontal bone under the brow of humans will be more distinct. These features will assist humans to fight the negative effects of cosmic rays. He also states that after another 100,000 years, the human eye will become unbelievably large.
#3 Functional Necessities
Humans might grow larger nostrils in the future. This will help humans to breathe easier when living on planets other than Earth. Humans might also grow denser hair, in order to warm their larger heads. At the present, it’s possible to alter almost all of the human features. However, Kwan suggests that natural human features will be more favorable.
This will surely affect how humans utilize wearable technology in the future. For example, the Google Glass and iWatch are expected to be replaced by discrete implants that look naturally human. Lots of unimaginably advanced devices such as communication contact lenses and embedded nanochips might exist too.
Controversy In The World Of Genetics
When Lamm and Kwan released their illustrations, disagreement sprouted among geneticists. Mathew Harper, a Forbes writer back then, claimed that instead of evolution, Lamm and Kwan are talking about genetic engineering. He also explained that when considering evolution, 100,000 years is quite a short time period. Therefore, Harper argued that the physical features of humans will be less pronounced. He also emphasized that instead of enlarging, the size of the human brain is actually diminishing. Finally, he stated that with available knowledge, thinking intelligently about technology that can change minor aspects of our appearance is impossible.
In conclusion, Harper thinks that Lamm and Kwan’s predictions are less science and more science fiction.
This Is How Kwan Responded
In response to Harper, Kwan stated that his works were solely speculation that was misconceived as predictions. He frequently used the word ‘might’ in his research. Basically, Kwan was implying that there’s a good chance he could be completely wrong. However, as much as it’s impossible to say that his illustration is fully correct, no one can say that they are completely wrong either. After all, no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy.
So what are your thoughts about the future of humans? Do check out the article and share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Image credits – Nickolay Lamm