Biologists are clear that animals, even humans, continue to evolve. But now the evolutionary changes do not come data only by nature: man-made changes such as global warming also play a role. And they are probably going to do it in the very long term, more than a million years from now.
If tigers go extinct, the evolution of another animal would go on to eat their prey
In Vox they have been able to talk with several specialists, asking them about what animals that live then can be like. You can’t be very precise when trying to find an answer, but you can think of something as a result of animals that are on the way to extinction and those that are not affected by human activity.
For example, paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor of the Field Museum in Chicago believes that if tigers go extinct pigeons can grow to eat the prey of these felines. When an extinction creates a hole in the food chain, evolution takes care of filling it with one or more substitutes. Those pigeons, O’Connor continues, could become the size of ostriches.
Rats can also benefit for everything we are doing. Humans have distributed them throughout the world and they have adapted to almost all climatic conditions, creating a genetic diversity that may allow them to evolve and grow in a future where there are fewer mammals like the current ones.
Rats could even develop resistance to radioactivity and adapt to marine life
Middlebury College paleoecologist Alexis Mychajliw thinks they could develop resistance to toxic gases and radioactivity that leaves human civilization, and even adapt to a life in the sea developing fins and a tail similar to that of eels. There are already other mammals such as seals, with terrestrial descendants that evolved to migrate to the sea.
Smithsonian expert Sahas Barve curls the curl further: Since humans have left a huge plastic trail, animals like termites could evolve to eat it. They are not the only insects that would thrive: a world with more carbon dioxide can cause a boom in global vegetation, which in turn would bring in more oxygen over time. And the more oxygen, the more likely the insects will grow in size. Liz Alter, a professor at the University of California, imagines cockroaches the size of cats and praying mantises the size of medium dogs.
We do not know if in a million years we will still be here. Perhaps we have become extinct, or perhaps we have found a planet with better conditions in which to live. But experts agree that we will leave our mark on the animals of the distant future, in a land that will change but will continue to live.