It doesn’t look as though we’ll be gaining psychic powers, wings or even an extra set of hands, but according to anthropologist Cadell Last, human beings will be another species by 2050. According to Last, “Mankind is undergoing an evolutionary transition as big as previous jumps from monkeys to apes, and apes to humans.”
And we’ll be doing it in a matter of decades rather than over a period of millions of years, according to Last’s evolutionary theory, which was published in the academic journal Current Aging Science. Last’s theory, in part, reads,
“I propose that this is the beginning of an ongoing fourth major primate life history transition towards completely delayed biological reproduction and an extension of the evolved human life expectancy. I argue that the only fundamental difference between this primate life history transition and previous life history transitions is that this transition is being driven solely by cultural evolution, which may suggest some deeper evolutionary transition away from biological evolution is already in the process of occurring.”
In layman’s terms, Last’s evolutionary theory is saying that the biological clock is becoming obsolete; that people are having babies later, living longer, and that there has been a dramatic shift from “living fast and dying young” to “living slow and dying old.”
Humans have been having babies later in life – for most of the world, the days of girls marrying at 12 and becoming mothers at 13 have become obsolete, and so the life expectancy of humans has risen as well. For Last, it seems like simple logic. He writes, “Monkeys reproduce later and live longer than do prosimians, apes reproduce later and live longer than do monkeys, and humans reproduce later and live longer than do apes.”
But his theory is more than just that – it focuses on culture as well, and how that ties into evolution. “Humans are naturally interested in music, movies, mathematics, and science and all of these things. So we’re just entering a world where we can own our own cultural reproduction, and we can engage in this for an entire lifetime,” Last said. “We’re not in this world yet, but this is sort of where we’re going.”
Basically, as Last added, “We’ll be having babies later in life, and fewer of them, in order to focus on their cultural development.” He added,
“People are going to be able to have more control over how they spend their time and energy, culturally speaking. And that will be a big change, that will be a fundamental difference between industrial society and the society we’re making.”
So what is the impact this evolutionary theory is going to have on us as a species?
Last believes that as early as 2050, we’ll be living to 120, on average.
What do you think of Last’s evolutionary theory? Do you think a cultural evolution that leads to a much longer lifespan will actually make us a different species? Or is the evolution more of a cultural shift that simply lengthens our lifespan?
[Image via Gallery Hip]