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pleiades's avatar

Can science predict when the next "hominid" would potentially arrive (see inside for details)

Asked by pleiades (6571points) April 25th, 2014

I’m using the term “hominid” loosely to basically describe the whole lot of bipeds… I know! I’m using it incorrectly… but what I’m trying to ask, is will there be a new bipedal species to emerge? Or are humans the last draw of the line in your opinion?

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8 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I do not believe science can predict when a new species will emerge. Evolution happens on a geological time scale, which takes millions of years.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No way on earth to tell.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We are evolving as we speak. We are different from those that came before us. even a few thousand years. We are bigger, have more genetic issues such as crohn’s allergies. and type i diabetes. Thanks to medical science there is no reason to breed that out of society. On the other hand, supposedly we are smarter, inherited the immunity to all kinds of diseases they had not heard of a few thousand years ago.
How long before we are considered a new species? I have seen that defined a number of ways – one being when one cannot breed with the other. We know that Neanderthals mated with ‘humans’ 50,000 years ago. Assuming the same rate of change we can expect the next species at least that far in the future. My guess is that a nuclear catastrophe will happen well before that triggering a new species a few generations later.

pleiades's avatar

I wonder if math could predict based off of patterns/timelines. I wonder if there is a correlation between all the worlds most intellectual creatures (timeline wise)

LuckyGuy's avatar

@pleiades Math does make some good predictions. Please look up mutation rate and the effective evolutionary time and the molecular clock .
There is too much info to get into here. Just google those key words and you will find all kinds of research papers.
What I find fun is we can accelerate the mutation rates with radiation. Like a box of chocolates we don’t know what we will get. Not too far in the future we will be doing it intentionally and then the rate will really speed up.

dappled_leaves's avatar

There’s a big difference between a “bipedal” species and a “hominid” species. Are you asking whether any primates stand a chance of evolving into a species that is self-aware on the level that humans are? It’s not impossible, but I think it’s far more likely that we will push them to extinction through habitat loss before there is time for that to happen.

We don’t currently have a way to effectively model the formation of new species in the way that you mean. We can predict the discovery of new species, and we can artificially select for new species having traits we choose, but we can’t predict how species will evolve, since we can’t know what genetic mutations will occur, or how (or how quickly) genes will be acted on by a species’ environment, especially since the environment itself also changes in ways we can’t predict.

I will also add that evolution does not have to be a slow process. Every time the frequency of an allele changes in a population, that is evolution. Speciation, however, is usually a slow process – unless the organisms have a very short lifetime, as in bacteria or some insects.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@LuckyGuy I’m sure the diseases have been around for thousands and thousands of years. They wouldn’t have used the modern terms to describe them, or have any idea what caused them, but the diseases were around. It’s just that with no treatment folks with diabetes or Crohn’s just died, possibly before they could pass the gene that causes the disease on.

I had a religious friend once tell me that cancer was caused by man’s evil. She said they didn’t have cancer thousands of years ago. I said of course they did. They just didn’t call it cancer. They called it something else.

On a second line, Neanderthal was a second species of humans who intermingled with the other human species. There are no other human species on this earth today to drastically change our genetic structure.

Bill1939's avatar

The number and order of chromosomes determine what form a life takes. While in most cases hundreds of millenniums pass before significant changes arise, viruses and bacteria present in food consumed can change an animal’s genetics by adding or altering gene sequences that inhibit or enable their genes’ expression. For example, humans and dogs acquired the ability to digest certain foods at about the same time.

However, the ability of science to manipulate genetics is increasing at an exponential rate. It is possible that in a few score years humans or other species may be redesigned. Intelligence has been found to be determined by the ratio of brain to body size. Bigger brains, requiring more energy, need to exist in smaller bodies requiring less. In a not too distant future, what was once human beings may be giant brains with tiny bodies dependent upon technology to provide mobility and the ability to manipulate objects.

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