The animals that may exist in a million years, imagined by biologists

Mandy Nguyen in Vox:

While it can sometimes seem like humanity is hell-bent on environmental destruction, it’s unlikely our actions will end all life on Earth. Some creatures are sure to endure in this age of mass extinction and climate crisis. Over time, they will adapt to a harsher world we’ve helped create, evolving to meet the moment as best they can.

Some of these transformations have gotten underway in our lifetimes. Climate change, some research suggests, is already “shape shifting” animals — shrinking certain migratory birds and speeding up the life cycles of amphibians, for example. No one knows exactly what changes to plants and animals will transpire in the years to come. Still, evolutionary biologists say it’s worth trying to imagine what creatures will evolve in the future.

“I do think it’s a really useful and important exercise,” Liz Alter, professor of evolutionary biology at California State University Monterey Bay, says on the latest episode of Unexplainable, Vox’s podcast about unanswered questions in science. In thinking about the animals of the future, Alter says, we must consider how we’re changing the environment now. “It’s a very sobering thing to think about the long future,” she says.

More here.