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Climate Change Effect On Humans: We May Evolve To Have Webbed Feet, Translucent Eyelids To Adapt To Sea Level Rise

14 January 2016, 3:42 am EST By Alyssa Navarro Tech Times
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It may be the stuff folklore or fairy tales are made of, but is it plausible for humans to evolve into some kind of species of mer-people? What about turning into a species that have no teeth?

An expert says that theoretically, these are feasible.

It won't happen in the near future, but an evolutionary scientist predicted that mankind's next generation may possibly develop several characteristics such as webbed feet and translucent eyelids in order to adapt to changes in the environment like rising sea levels. That last part is indeed likely.

Rising Sea Levels Globally

A study led by the University of Florida and published last year had revealed that sea levels could rise by 20 feet and affect low-lying areas worldwide because of climate change.

"As the planet warms, the poles warm even faster," said Geochemist Andrea Dutton, who was part of the Florida study. Dutton added that this has raised important questions about how ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would potentially respond.

Sea-level rise will not happen overnight, but Dutton said it does show that the polar ice sheets are sensitive to temperature abnormalities. For instance, the ice shelves in Antarctica are like a cork in a bottle that could cause ice to pour into the ocean if they continuously collapsed and melted.

While researchers say a catastrophic event involving the planet's oceans can happen, it probably wouldn't occur within a two-hundred-year timeframe.

Still, scientists can't help but think of what might happen in the future for humans when the ability to adapt to environmental changes could definitely spell the difference between the extinction and survival of our own species.

How Would Humans Evolve In Case Of Any Marine Catastrophe Or Other Possibilities?

Dr. Matthew Skinner, a paleoanthropologist and expert in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, has a few ideas regarding the matter.

In a promotional video for the Syfy UK TV show called Extant, Skinner as a challenge reveals his predictions for the evolution of our species, all depending on three possible future habitats.

1. Water World

Skinner says if humans were forced to live underwater, the changes in our body would help us swim better.

Imagine this: in an underwater planet, humans will have longer and webbed fingers, as well as a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane. This translucent eyelid will help humans shield the eyes from water penetration. Apparently, alligators have these special eyelids.

Presumably, this water world or underwater planet humans will inhabit will be temperate, especially at great depths. To keep the body insulated when it is submerged for a long time, Skinner says the body will develop a bit more padding through the help of a layer of baby fat.

What about breathing? Skinner says the body will also develop gills. These gills will assist in breathing by pulling oxygen from the surrounding water. In turn, our lung capacity will diminish, and our ribcage will shrink and become less prominent.

2. Colonization Of A New Planet

As advances in space technology progresses, it is plausible in a future far, far away that the human race successfully inhabits a new planet.

Although NASA and other space agencies are still searching for potentially habitable planets, Skinner says colonizing a new planet will also tick off changes in the human body.

In a new planet, the expert says humans will probably have longer arms and shorter legs in order to make walking in low gravity more feasible.

Humans will have to live in an all-liquid diet in fluid or pill form, and may develop smaller and less powerful jaws because chewing is no longer needed. This also means humans will have to lose their teeth.

Aside from that, our bodies will become smaller due to a lack of natural predators and the reduced need for physical exertion. This follows the island dwarfing principle, in which humans became smaller on islands due to less numbers of predators and fewer resources.

And the most bizarre prediction? Humans may even develop an opposable big toe – yes, you read that correctly – to allow us to grip with our feet in an environment that is potentially weightless, Skinner says. It will also add extra balance. Future humans may give the Bigfoot a run for its money, then.

3. The Second Ice Age

For the third scenario, Skinner says the human race could potentially experience a second Ice Age caused by either the impact of an asteroid hitting the Earth or volcanic ash blocking out the sun and spreading throughout the atmosphere.

As the temperature of the planet plummets, the size of our face and our noses will become larger. The nose's nasopharynx, the area where air is warmed, will become enlarged to help humans survive the cold temperature.

Aside from that, the amount of hair in the body would increase to help humans stay warm and would probably turn into platinum silver, he says. And with less sunlight, the color of the skin too would probably become paler and lighter to enable the body to absorb more vitamin D.

Have you seen Elsa from "Frozen" or Jack Frost from "Rise of the Guardians"? Their platinum hair and pale skin could be the future of humans during the second Ice Age.

Lastly, the human race will become more physically powerful to survive harsh climate conditions.

In conclusion, Skinner says that whatever evolutionary changes might happen for the human race, there is only one goal: survival.

"No matter what future scenario we find ourselves in, be it a 'Water World', ice age or indeed that of colonising another planet, the human race will strive to avoid extinction," adds Skinner. "Ultimately, it's a fight for survival."

Watch the promotional video below.

#Extant Season 2 launches tonight at 9pm, and while we wonder if Molly can save mankind, leading paleoanthropologist, Dr Matthew Skinner, has predicted how our bodies could adapt to survive in three different future habitat scenarios

Posted by Syfy UK on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

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