• Question: Long ago, the homosapiens shared the world with other types of "Humans/People" like the Neanerthals. Do you think that in any living persons lifetime, other types of "Human/People" will evolve from other animals? And if so, do you think we would be able to over power them, or would we be destroyed?

    Asked by frogdwarf to Charlie, Eoin, Jemma, Julian, Steve on 25 Mar 2011.
    • Photo: Julian Rayner

      Julian Rayner answered on 21 Mar 2011:

      Hi frogdwarf.

      Great question – I love the idea of another humanoid evolving and overpowering us! Don’t think it is going to happen though. Evolution on big scales like that is really slow, so it would take thousands and thousands of years for new species to evolve, and we would certainly know about it in plenty of time. It is also unlikely because new species need a “niche” (place to live/way to make a living) to survive. I think humans are taking up pretty much all the niches that human-like beings could live in about now!

      The idea of us humans co-inhabiting the world with other human-like creatures is a really interesting one to me. You are right about Neanderthals, and anthropologists also recently found evidence for a very small human-like species that lived on an island in Indonesia even more recently, possibly until only a thousand years ago (although this is pretty controversial). I like the idea because it emphasizes that we aren’t really all that or unique as a species – there have been other human-like things around, we just happen to be very successful (some would say too successful!) at the moment.

    • Photo: Eoin Lettice

      Eoin Lettice answered on 21 Mar 2011:

      Hi frogdwarf,
      Thanks for your question. Evolution takes a very very very very long time to achieve such enormous results, like a new type of human. Evolution is a slow-moving process made up of lots of small changes over a long period of time.
      For that reason, it would be impossible for a human or human-type animal to evolve from another animal so suddenly that humans wouldn’t have thousands of years to prepare for it.


    • Photo: Jemma Ransom

      Jemma Ransom answered on 21 Mar 2011:

      I don’t think that will happen in my lifetime. I guess the problem is that us Homo Sapiens are so dominant that we destroy the habitats from which other subtypes of humans could evolve. Many of our primate relatives are now endangered, so I think we have the monopoly on humanity for the forseeable future.

    • Photo: Stephen Moss

      Stephen Moss answered on 21 Mar 2011:

      Hi Frogdwarf

      What an interesting question. I think what you suggest is theoretically possible but very unlikely. Humans now exist in such numbers, and pretty much across the entire planet, that there wouldn’t seem to be enough ‘space’ for any other humanoid species to evolve alongside us. Also, evolution takes place over massive time scales, so the mostly scenario is that one day humans will die out – perhaps in a million years or something, and then new human-like creatures will evolve again. The earth will be around long enough for there to be several cycles of extinction and evolution.

    • Photo: Charlie Ryan

      Charlie Ryan answered on 25 Mar 2011:

      hi frogdwarf sorry i have no idea!
      I think there was a documentray on the bbc about whether humans were still evolving – maybe its still on the iplayer and you can check it out. This Q is way outside my realm of knowledge!