An artist’s depiction of a vast cylindrical space colony ship containing more than a million people on a voyage to the stars. Artist Rick Guidice created this vision for NASA in the 1970s.
CREDIT: Rick Guidice/NASA Ames Research Center

Will Humans Keep Evolving on Ultra-Long Space Voyages?

by Elizabeth Howell, SPACE Contributor
Date: 27 December 2012 Time: 05:29 AM ET

n the Disney film “Wall-E,” a colony of humans becomes an obese population after hundreds of years locked inside a spaceship. A lack of activity and an abundance of food left the starship denizens with little desire to stay in shape.

But while “Wall-E” was science fiction, but at least one anthropologist believes the human race will change when it embarks on multigenerational space missions to Alpha Centauri or other nearby stars.

To the thinking of Cameron Smith at Portland State University, evolution will continue on starships despite the best attempts to limit it.

“I believe that new pressure, breathing-gas compositions, gravity and radiation environments will act on the early stages of embryo and fetus development; this will be natural selection of new selective agents on the genome,” Smith told SPACE.com in an email after stating his views in a recent Scientific American podcast.

Read more: Humans Will Evolve on Long-Term Space Missions: Anthropologist | Space.

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