The Next Leap Forward

Photo: moritzaust

Photo: moritzaust

We’re going to go down the rabbit hole with this one. Break out your tin foil hats, it’s going to get a little sci-fi. There’s quite a few links, which provide further information. You don’t have to read them to get the gist of this thought experiment. But if you’re interested, click away.

When I learned about evolution in grade school, and all of the different species like Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal, Homo Sapien, etc, I always assumed that humans just evolved from one version to the next, and that modern-day scientists just gave the variations a name. If you look at any evolution chart, that’s the impression you get. But recently, I learned that not only did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens exist at the same time, they may have mated, and that Neanderthals may have been wiped out by us Humans.

If two different species can  coexist and potentially mate, and if there can be microevolutions from generation to generation, what does the next version of Humans look like? If we go down the rabbit hole with this one and jump ahead to a not so distant future (it doesn’t have to be a dystopian one, though that is popular these days), could we have two variations of Humans coexisting? Are they already coexisting today?

The study of epigenetics says that the foods we eat and lifestyle choices we make can have real-time affects on our genes and those changes can be passed on to our offspring. So if eating real foods, exercising and making good lifestyle choices turns on the good genes and turns off the bad genes in one person, eating processed food, getting zero exercise and making poor lifestyle choices would turn off the good genes and turn on the bad genes in another person.

If we fast forward two generations (assuming these people procreate and their children do as well), what would these two sets of grandchildren look like? Would they look like two different species?

If you read The Sports Gene by David Epstein, it becomes pretty clear that majority of professional athletes are genetical superior to the average person. They have better eye sight, better cardiovascular systems, they’re naturally bigger, stronger and faster. They’re mutants when compared to the rest of the population. They’re obviously a minority of the global population. They’re outliers. They’re anomalies. So could they be considered a slightly different species? There’s obviously something different about their genetic makeup that sets them apart from the general population.

To bring it back to something a little more common, let’s take the functional fitness/real food camp vs. the sedentary/highly-processed, genetically-modified food/high carb and high sugar/typical American lifestyle camp.

Now let’s say these two camps maintain these lifestyles, have kids, and grandkids. What would the grandkids of these two camps look like? If things keep going the way they are going I think they would look like two different species. The sedentary/fake food kids would be born with, or highly predisposed to, a host of allergies, auto-immune issues, metabolic syndrome, most likely be overweight and have a shorter life expectancy. Whereas, the functional fitness/real food kids would, on the whole, be leaner, stronger and healthier.

This all may sound like the premise of a sci-fi movie: A Hunger Games where the healthy hunt the sick. Too bad Ice-T and Rutger Hauer already made that movie, sort of. I smell a reboot. Or maybe that’s the smell of human flesh on a rotisserie? Although, if the healthy did hunt the sick, I don’t think they would actually eat them because the meat would have so many toxins. Zing! See, cannibalism can be fun.

I guess only time will tell how the choices we make today affect the human race years from now. By that time, we’ll have all uploaded ourselves to the Singularity and live out our days in a virtual existence. But it would be kind of cool if I’m right.

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