So we want to chat a little bit about human evolution. You probably know that ‘evolution of man’ image, showing every stage from monkeys to… well… “us”. And what we’ve been thinking about is… What might come after the last picture, the human? I mean, hopefully its superpowers. X-Men movies say the next stage of evolution is superpowers but we’ve been looking into it and it’s more likely that instead of laser eyes or metal claws- our toes will just fall off.
For real… Leading scientists think our pinky toes will fall off! Anyway, before I reveal everything in the actual list, here are 10 theories of human evolution that we think are pretty likely.
10) Humans Will Get Taller
The average height of man goes up an inch or two every generation. So it’s a pretty safe bet that will keep ongoing. Your kids will be taller than you; their kids will be taller than them. I mean, it doesn’t work QUITE that fast- but you get the picture. So far it’s all been about nutrition. If there’s a better history of nutrition in your gene pool, and you’ve been fed nutritious food from a young age, you develop taller.
However, for generations to come the increasing height of humans is likely to be due to the allure of tall people. High stature is commonly seen as a sign of attractiveness across many cultures and this means that taller people are more likely to ‘get frisky’.
So their genes will be the ones passed on to future generations. Some assume the Dutch to have plateaued and reached maximum height, but in the end only time – and human evolution – will tell.
9) We’ll Lose Some of our Organs
We don’t need a gall bladder. We don’t need an appendix. And, if you look after yourself, you can survive without a spleen. But we’ve still got them; it’s stupid!
Some people think these useless organs are leftovers from prior steps on the evolutionary ladder, a bit like how some people are still born with a little bit of a tail. (Yes… Seriously! Look it up) More and more people around the world are being born without unnecessary organs. There are theories that this is human evolution catching up and slowly getting around to ditching those organs we don’t need. So maybe one day, nobody will be born with them.
8) Our Posture Will Worsen
Have you noticed how almost EVERYONE complains about a bad back these days? Everybody’s got bad posture and there are lots of things contributing to it. One of the biggest problems is office work has taken over from factory labor as the main source of income. Pretty much everybody’s just hunching at desks 9-5 or longer.
Then what do we do when we get home? We sit at a laptop, or a games console, or curl up in bed with a phone, or hunch on the sofa in front of the TV. Maybe in the future those with naturally curved backs will be more suited to modern life and thus thrive, seeing this evolutionary trait emerge.
Who knows? We may one day end up with a generation that looks like they were reaching for their toes and then got stuck!
Add that to the growth in height and you’ll have a generation of kids with spines like pringles.
7) We’ll be Capable of Longer Periods without Oxygen
So this one is sort of a superpower. But not teleportation or anything awesome… Life away from decent oxygen is becoming more and more common. So many people spend hours a day underground on a tube getting to work. And indoor jobs are now a lot more common than outdoor ones! We’re spending 2 hours a day getting to and from work and then we spend that day crammed in a tiny office.
We’re locking ourselves away from the fresh air and I don’t want to say: “Your Mum was right again” but… Well… Your Mum was right again! Fresh air is good for you and we should be getting more of it, but there’s an argument to be had that the pretty amazing human body may adapt to this change of environment. The more time we spend in spaces with bad oxygen, the more likely people with bad lungs can’t handle it and thus people with more efficient lungs would thrive and reproduce.
We’re probably going to always need oxygen, but future generations may eventually be able to cope better in low oxygen environments, or going longer holding their breath. How cool is that? You could swim for longer!
6) Loss of Little Toe
So here we go. Let me explain what I was going on about in regards to toes. You don’t need little toes. Honestly. How mad is that? Seriously though you don’t need them, they don’t do anything.
Sorry but I’m going to read a quote at you! Feel free to fall asleep… Dr. Anisha Kadakia, assistant professor in orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University, said: “Primates use their feet to grab, claw, to climb trees, but humans, we don’t need that function anymore… Clearly we’re not jumping up and down trees and using our feet to grab. We have toes embryologically, evolutionary for that particular reason because we descended from apes, but we don’t need them as people.”.
So now they just dangle on the end of our feet and there are lots of people out there who think as time goes on, humans being born without pinky toes will be more and more common and, maybe one day, the norm.
So this one is super interesting. There’s this idea called ‘Mono-Ethnicity’ which predicts that a single ethnic group will dominate a whole region or country. So there’s the theory that eventually, the whole world could be mono-ethnic. What that means is, with different cultures mingling and… you know… “getting jiggy with it” there are more people born every generation whose ethnicity isn’t easy to define in a word or two.
It would take generations, but with racial barriers breaking down all the time, we may one day reach a point of everyone being so mingled- we will all just belong to one culture and ethnicity. A mono-ethnicity.
4) More Dexterous Thumbs
Do you remember that bit in FRIENDS where Ross tries to convince Phoebe evolution is real by talking about thumbs? Thumbs are one of evolution’s greatest achievements.
It sounds dumb, but imagine not having thumbs! Using your phone would be a nightmare! It seems logical, given how many devices we’re always using all the time that we may evolve to have more dexterous thumbs. This is one thing we have generations of Angry Bird and Fifa players to thank for.
3) The Development of Two Sub Cultures
This one might be a little too “sci-fi” but hear me out. So H.G. Wells’ novel ‘The Time Machine’ depicts a future in which society has evolved into two distinct subcultures. You’ve got the Eloi and you’ve got the Morlocks. So Eloi are like the pale, sickly but super clever half of society and Morlocks are the tough, physically superior, but a quite dumb half.
It’s essentially nerds vs. jocks. I’m not saying we’re evolving toward a war between weak geniuses and strong idiots, as cool as that might be. (Seriously Hollywood- make a film about that. It would be awesome!). But society does seem to be dividing a bit and even evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects this pattern to emerge. In both England and America right now the class divide and the political divide are wider than ever.
Although class isn’t the best proxy for the division of intelligence and strength, it may cause people to stick to particular sexual partners, causing humanity to divide into sub-species.
2) Weaker Immune Systems
You always hear people moaning about how if you molly-coddle kids their immune systems won’t develop properly. Well there’s actually a term to describe this, it’s called the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’. It’s the idea that a lack of exposure to enough germs and infections at a young age can prevent the immune system from developing adequately. It’s more common with each generation to over-rely on pills and injections to get us through a bad case of the sniffles.
Well maybe not an injection if you’ve got a cold, but you know what I mean! If we keep heading in this direction we may eventually reach a point where our descendants are so unused to infection that the tiniest things could kill them. Like acne! Imagine dying of acne! Ergh… That’s kind of what the Eloi from ‘The Time Machine’ are all about. Humans who have evolved intellectually and culturally, but have very much devolved when it comes to health.
1) Less Sex Drive
Seriously. Millennials have less sex than the generations before them, sorry guys… it is a fact though! Part of this is that people have to earn more to get by these days. It might also be because people are more into career or creative goals nowadays than just “getting their end away”.
There’s also an argument to be had that this is evolution’s way of dealing with the population crisis. ‘Cos, how has the planet not cracked under the weight of the population yet, seriously! Whatever the reason, the facts are millennials are not just having less sex, but are less bothered! We seem to be less interested in what our parents might call ‘hanky panky’ and a little more interested in drinking overpriced cocktails out of jam jars!
These are 10 thoughts I’ve had based on some of the human evolution theories kicking around. But they are literally just 10, there are so many more theories and thoughts out there. I’d love to hear what you think though, so please comment below with any theories on human evolution that you might have, or even anything you’ve read, about how humans might evolve. Just don’t say super powers! We are not going to develop super powers!
Okay, we MIGHT!