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In the future what will humans most likely going to look like after evolution?
Question Date: 2021-02-08
Answer 1:

This is a question that is hotly debated among most evolutionary biologists, and with no easy or simple answer. One possibility is that humans as we know them today will not likely undergo much evolution.

Typically evolution requires isolated populations with varying selection pressures for new mutations to become fixed in a population and promote changes and speciation. The human population is now not only widely spread across the globe, but also tightly connected, and with advances in technology and science there is much less selection pressure put on individual members of society, thus increasing the chance that all members can pass on genes to the next generation and intermingle to the point that novel mutations are unlikely to become fixed in a population. However there is some evidence of the human species being more dynamic in terms of evolutionary change, mostly depending on fertility rates of certain groups of people in the developed world and mortality rates of certain groups in the developing world. One example is that shorter, heavier women tend to have more children, and thus pass on traits for their height and weight more frequently, than their peers. This could have an impact on how humans appear over the course of generations. Also a novel selection pressure could become more important in the future. For instance, the increase in frequency of global pandemics, such as Covid-19 and SARS, could increase the evolutionary advantages of individuals with stronger immune systems and cause them to be selected for by natural selection.

There is the possibility that our own scientific advances spur our future evolution in difficult to predict ways. Gene editing and artificial fertilization could potentially revolutionize how genes are passed from one generation to the next, however there is a great deal of ethical concern surrounding the use of this technology. The technology could be used to eliminate common genetic diseases, but should it also be used to make sure a child has a certain look? Could we find the genetic tools to make humans stronger or smarter, and then should those tools be used on humans at all? Depending on how these technologies get discovered and utilized it could have drastic impacts on the potential for human evolution. Also, if at some point humans ever manage to colonize outside of the Earth, that could spur novel evolutionary changes that we couldn't possibly predict.

As stated in the beginning, evolution tends to work on isolated populations, humans on distant colonies could be isolated from one another for long enough that genetic differences between them become fixed and the different colonies evolve completely independently from one another.

Finally, as humans evolve, the group will at some point stop being "human", in the sense of the species Homo sapiens. In the same way that we are no longer the same as our genetic ancestors, such as Homo erectus or Homo habilis, our genetic descendants have the potential to change into something that is so distinct from us as a species that they are no longer Homo sapiens.

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