The burgeoning birthrate will cease to be a problem once we've bred a race of humans half normal size. That at least is the prediction of Thomas Easton, a theoretical biologist and technical writing teacher at the University of Maine.
"Cut people down to about three feet in height and they won't eat as much food," Easton says. "Cars could then be the size of little red wagons, with all the old gas guzzlers converted to buses. In fact man's appetite for open space and raw materials would decrease to match his stature.
"This new breed of human," Easton says, "would have far more muscle, with the ability to run and jump almost like a cat. Reduced weight would ease the wear in joints, cutting the prevalence of arthritis. Since less blood would be pumped through a small circulatory system, the heart's work load would be diminished and there would be fewer cardiac arrests.
"The technology to shrink humans," Easton says, "will probably be available within a decade. A genetically engineered virus, carrying genes coded to create small people, could be placed in a reservoir or released in the air. Then everyone infected would absorb the genes and produce lilliputian offspring."
Back in the early 1980s, orthodontist David Marshall, from Syracuse, NY, liked to speculate about what humans would look like 2 million years in the future. Or what "Future Man" would look like, as he referred to our descendants. Based on previous trends in our evolution, he concluded that Future Man will be hairless, big-skulled, small-jawed, and have few teeth.
Marshall’s version of the future human being is a sleek-featured, diminutive person, much like the creatures seen in many science-fiction movies.
Today’s diet of soft, processed foods will take its toll on the human jaw and teeth, which have been diminishing since prehistoric days when our ancestors used their mouths as weapons, in addition to making tough foods palatable, Marshall says.
“Nature has a wonderful way of providing for her needs. Whatever she doesn’t need, she gets rid of,” Marshall says. “Things develop according to function. If you use something, it develops. If you don’t, it disappears.”
Since people today do not use their teeth the way they once did, future people probably will have much smaller, and fewer teeth, Marshall’s prediction indicates. They will be practically hairless and their jaws will diminish as they have for thousands of years, he says. The chin and nose will be more prominent.
The changes Marshall foresees also will give future people a wider range of facial expressions…
He has turned his office into a museum on the development of the human skull, tracing its evolutionary and embryonic progress in exhibits and photographs… One of the exhibits in his personal museum is a line of busts depicting the evolutionary changes in the human skull from prehistoric times to his vision of what people will look like 2 million years into the future…
But even with the possibility of scientific advances influencing evolution, Marshall expresses confidence that his projections cannot be disputed.
“No one is going to disprove me,” he says. “They won’t be around.”
-The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review - June 15, 1981
According to Marshall's obituary (he died in 2006), the anatomical museum he once had in his dental office was eventually moved to Syracuse University. Although I can't find any record of it there now.
David Marshall, “Changes in the skull—past, present, and future—because of evolution.” Journal of the American Dental Association. Nov 1975.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.