• Question: In the future in what way do you think our bodies will evolve?

    Asked by ladiesman1278 to James, Mike, Suze, Will on 22 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: James Marrow

      James Marrow answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Some people do suggest that we’ll get taller and weaker, but I’m not so sure.

      Evolution happens when changes in our bodies improve our ability to survive and breed and so keep those changes, so I don’t think we’ll change much as science has removed many of the threats to our survival. We almost all survive long enough to breed.

      Having said that, we still see some evolution happening now in isolated populations where in-breeding in the community can encourage certain characteristics. We might also see a wider range of characteristics, since any mutation that does not directly affect our ability to live could survive to future generations easily now.

      The possibility of “Cats with thumbs” is scary though! 🙂

    • Photo: William Eborall

      William Eborall answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      I’m not sure of the answer to this question.

      Evolution happens because some people are too weak to have children. Either they die before they can have children, or they are seen as not strong enough to mate with to have children. In this way only the strongest and most attractive people have children (attractive here can mean the best hunter, or the fastest runner, anything that is seen as an advantage to the species). This means the children will also have those qualities (good hunter, fastest runner etc.)

      But in our modern world, because of medicines and surgery, people who would have been too sick or weak to have children that would normally have died are now able to have children. This is likely to reduce the amount humans evolve. What now decides if you’re able to have children is whether you’re found attractive enough to have a baby with. This attractiveness can be whether you’re good looking, or if you’re smart of rich maybe? Or maybe just that you can make someone laugh 🙂 This will keep humans evolving, but the things we’re selecting for now have changed from those for survival.

    • Photo: Mike Dodd

      Mike Dodd answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hey ladiesman,

      It’s really hard to say. I think James and Will have hit on the important points on evolution. As we need technology more and more, we are less likely to need to evolve. Previously species evolved to try and coup with a changing environment, whether it got colder or they needed to move from land to sea (like the dolphin). However, humans found technology and used their brains. Instead of getting more hair to live in colder conditions, we killed animals and used there fur. Now we live in central heated houses and cars etc. I think James point about us becoming weaker is a fair point. We are going to become more dependent on our technology. What do you think?

    • Photo: Suze Kundu

      Suze Kundu answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      I definitely don’t seem to be getting any taller… Not since I was eleven anyway!

      I’ve explained something similar in a different question, about how the body can evolve to suit different climates, like people that live high up in the mountains, where there is less oxygen, have more red blood cells in their blood, so that they can scoop up all the last remaining its of oxygen from their lungs when they breathe in. It’s an adaptation of their bodies that makes them more suited to the environment that they live in, which is a kind of evolution.

      Can you think of any other ways that humans or animals have evolved to better suit their environments?