What species would rule the world if humans went extinct?

In a post-apocalyptic future, What will happen to life if people disappear? After all, the human species is likely to become extinct long before the sun turns into a giant red ball and wipes out all life on earth.

Assuming we didn’t destroy other living things first (something very unlikely despite our tendency to wipe out species), history tells us: There will be fundamental changes when humans stop being the dominant animal species on the planet..

So if we could go back 50 million years after it disappeared, what would we find? Which animal or group of animals will inherit from us as the dominant species? Will Planet of the Apes be born like in the movies? Or will dolphins, rats, tardigrades, cockroaches, pigs or ants rule the Earth?

This question has sparked much speculation, and lists of candidate species have been made by numerous authors. However, before we speculate, we need to clarify what we mean by dominant species.

Let’s limit ourselves to the animal kingdom

It can be said that the age we live in is the age of flowers. However, as we visualize the future, no one has ever seen Audrey 2. horror shop (although fictional triffids do have characteristic animal traits such as predatory behavior and ability to move).

dolphins pixabay

Let us therefore confine ourselves to the animal kingdom for practical rather than philosophical reasons. By some criteria, bacteria have always dominated the world, although the “age of bacteria” ended about 1.2 billion years ago. But it’s not because bacteria are disappearing or their prevalence is decreasing, but because we’ve tended to put more emphasis on the larger multicellular organisms that came later.

According to some calculations, four out of five animals are nematodes (roundworms). Thus, with these examples, it is clear that neither prevalence nor abundance nor diversity is necessary to be the dominant way of life. Instead, our inclination is to think of big, charismatic bodies.

Meek will inherit the world

There is an undeniable degree of narcissism in how we humans identify the dominant type, and there is a tendency to assign that title to our close relatives. Planet of the Apes imagines that our primate relatives will be able to develop speech and adopt our technology if we give them enough time and space.

However Since apes will likely go extinct before us, non-human primate societies are unlikely to take over our dominance of Earth.. We are the only living humanoids that are not in danger of extinction anyway. And the crisis that could end our species is unlikely to leave other great apes on the sidelines. In fact, any extinction that affects humans would be dangerous to organisms with similar basic physiological needs.

Lizard pixabay

Even as we humans succumbed to a global epidemic that affected a few mammals, the great apes are certainly the species most at risk of contracting new diseases that could wipe them out from Earth.

Could another, more distant relative (primate, mammal, or otherwise) develop intelligence and society similar to our own? This doesn’t seem very likely. Among all species that were in theory dominant animals at one point, humans are unique in their extraordinary intelligence and dexterity. Therefore, it can be concluded that these traits are not a requirement to become a dominant species or to evolve. Evolution alone does not support intelligence unless it leads to a higher level of survival and reproduction. Then, It is a serious mistake to think that our successors will be particularly intelligent, social beings, able to talk, or become technologists.

So, can we say anything about the dominant species 50 million years after the human extinction? The answer is as disappointing as it is surprising. We can be pretty sure it won’t be a talking chimpanzee, but we have no idea what will.

Earth has witnessed numerous mass extinctions throughout its history. The diversification of life after each event has always been relatively rapid, and the adaptation of new species has produced new life forms that are very different from those that gave birth to them after surviving the previous extinction.

This little creatures The cave bears that ran under the dinosaurs’ feet during the Late Cretaceous were very different from mastodons and whales from the Mammalian Age. Likewise, the reptiles that survived the Permian-Triassic mass extinction about 250 million years ago, which wiped out 90% of marine life and 70% of terrestrial species, were unlike pterosaurs, dinosaurs, mammals, and the birds that descended from them.

ants ornamental plant

In The Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryThe late Stephen J. Gould argued that chance, or contingency as he called it, played a crucial role in the great transitions of animal life. There is room for debate about the relative importance of contingency in the history of life, which remains a controversial topic today. However, Gould’s insight that the survival of modern races after future extinction can hardly be predicted is humbling about the complexity of evolutionary transitions.

Despite ants could comfort us in Earth’s sphere of influenceAs predicted, we have no way of knowing how these dominant ants descended from the present ones will turn out to be.

Luc Bussiere is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Stirling.

Reference article: https://theconversation.com/what-species-dominate-the-earth-if-humans-we-extinct-105364


Environment department contact address:crisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

Source: Informacion


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