Nature’s super slow prototyping process would look completely different for humans living on another planet. So we have to ask, how would humans evolve on Mars?
By Darren Orf
Human beings are the result of millions of years of evolution doing its slow but inevitable work, creating more complex beings purpose built to their environment. For example, we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide—pretty convenient for a planet covered in plants don’t you think? But what happens when you relocate a species to another environment almost entirely unlike its ancestral home? In other words, what the hell is going to happen to humans on Mars?
Space Time takes a moment to conduct a thorough thought experiment about what could happen to humans when generation after generation continue to live, grow, and evolve on Mars. Considering even small evolutionary differences exist among humans today—the people of Tibet have higher lung capacity that the rest of us, for example—the differences between humans on completely different planets would be huge.
Host Matt O’Dowd suggests that Martians would, over the years, develop genetic mutations that would counter the risks of decreased bone density and muscle mass, something scientists observe in astronauts regularly. Over time Martians might also become taller than humans, since their hearts wouldn’t have to fight such strong gravity to pump blood throughout their body—one of the biologicals reasons for the limit to human height.
The video continues to touch on the Martian climate, lack of a micro biome (which would make future Martians incapable of living on Earth), and even future possibilities of terraforming the planet. It’s a bit of a far future thought exercise, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.
Video credit: PBS Spacetime
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.