In the post-apocalyptic future, what would happen to life if people were to disappear? After all, it is likely that the human species will go out long before the sun turns into a huge red ball and ends with all the living beings on the face of the Earth.
We assume that before this does not end with other living beings (the story is unlikely, despite our tendency to make the animals disappear), history tells us that people will become fundamental changes when people cease to be the dominant animal species on the planet.
So if you could jump to about 50 million years after our disappearance, what would you find? Which animal or group of animals would relieve us of the predominant species? Will the Planet Apes be born in movies? Will dolphins, rats, tardigrades, cockroaches, pigs or ants dominate the Earth?
This issue has caused a lot of speculation, and many writers have prepared lists of candidate species. However, before we give a presumption, we need to clarify what we mean by the dominant species.
Let's take a look at the animal kingdom
You could say that the present era of the era of flowers. However, when looking to the future no one is Audrey 2 "Tent of Threats" (although the trifids of fiction had the characteristic characteristics of animals, such as predatory behavior and the ability to move).
Let us limit ourselves to the animal kingdom, more for practical than philosophical reasons. According to some criteria, the world has always been dominated by the bacterium, despite the fact that the "bacterium bacteria" ended about 1,200 million years ago. But this was not because the bacteria ceased to exist or because their predominance decreased, but because we are more important to the large multicellular organisms that came later.
According to some calculations, four out of five nematode animals (cylindrical worms). So, with these examples, it is clear that there is no prevalence, neither abundance nor diversity is essential for the dominant way of life. Instead, our tendency is to think of big and charismatic organisms.
The meal will inherit the Earth
There is an undeniable degree of narcissism in how people identify the dominant species, as well as the tendency to give this name to close relatives. "Planet Monkeys" imagine that our relatives could develop speech and adopt our technology if they were given enough time and space.
However, it is unlikely that inhuman primal societies will inherit our authority over the Earth, as it is likely that monkeys will die before us. The only living hominid that is not at risk of extinction. And it is unlikely that a crisis that could end our species would leave other great monkeys. In fact, any kind of extinction affecting humans would also be dangerous for those organisms with similar basic physiological needs.
Although people are subject to a global pandemic affecting a few mammals, large monkeys are the ones most exposed to the kinds of new diseases that could be eliminated from Earth.
Can a second relative, more distant (primate, mammal, or others) to develop intelligence and a similar company? This is also not likely. Of all the species that are in theory before the time of dominant animals, people are unique in their exceptional intelligence and manual skills. It can therefore be concluded that such quality does not require that they are predominant species or that they are developing. Evolution alone does not support intelligence unless it leads to a higher survival and reproduction rate. It is therefore a serious mistake to think that our heirs will be particularly intelligent, so that they are social beings, so that they can speak or be experts in the field of technology.
So, can we say something about the dominant species of 50 million years after the extinction of a human being? The answer is both disappointing and surprising. We are convinced that he will not speak chimpanzees, but he has no idea what it will be.
In its history, the earth has seen a lot of mass extinctions. The diversification of life after each event has always been relatively fast, and the adaptation of new species has created new life forms that were very different from those created after the survival of the previous extinction.
The small creatures under the feet of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period were very different from the cave between the caves, mastodons and whales that descended from the mammalian period. Similarly, reptiles who survived the mass extinction of the Permian-Triassic 250 million years ago, ending with 90% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species, also did not mention pterosaurs, dinosaurs, mammals, and birds that descended from them.
In the "wonderful life: Burgess Shale and the nature of history," late Stephen J. Gould He argued that the probability or unpredictability, as he once said, had a very important role in the large transitions of animal life. Consideration should be given to the relative importance of unpredictability in the history of life, which is still a controversial issue today. However, Gould believes that the survival of modern races can be difficult to imagine after future extinction, a lesson in humility regarding the complexity of evolutionary transitions.
Although it might happen that ants take us to the Earth's domain, as it was speculated, it is impossible to know how the dominant ant will be the offspring of the present.