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Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future (1990) is a speculative book written by Scottish geologist Dougal Dixon and illustrated by Philip Hood. The theme of the book is the future evolution of humanity in the next millions of years. Unlike the previous books, the story is told through different periods of time and adding different individual characters in the first chapters, following many events in a timeline, that starting from the final days of modern civilization and its decline, the emergence of species created by genetic engineering, its diversification, evolution and extinction of these ones, and ending with a complete mass extinction caused by the distant descendants of humanity that colonized other planets.

Plot summary

The events of the book start around 200 years in the future, humanity has entered in a catastrophic period of crisis due to the excessive use of natural resources, the destruction of the environment, overpopulation, etc, but at the edge of the collapse of civilization, a considerably small number of humans are selected to colonize new worlds outside the solar system by the use of huge generational ships. By the use of genetic engineering and the manipulation of genomes two human species are created which are used as labor hand: the aquamorph, a species designed to inhabit underwater, and the vacuumorph, capable of existing in the vacuum of space.

Years later after the departure of the ships (300-500 years) the earth has partially recovered from the catastrophe with the loss of terrestrial and marine fauna, and the world population has been greatly reduced, but humanity survived. Some have adopted a rural lifestyle that implements agriculture and the use of simple tools. However, there are still other groups with advanced technology; several of them began to be dependent on specialized machines to stay alive, becoming a subspecies of humans characterized by dependence on huge mechanical cradles which maintain their vital functions, the Hitek.

As the early posthuman species were designed as organisms without the capacity to reproduce, they became extinct after having fulfilled their purpose, although that the aquatic forms continued improving, surviving in a new form better adapted to the aquatic life and able to reproduce in subsequent generations. After contemplating what was lost by the human schism, the Hitek began to implement the use of genetic engineering to create new human species which would fill the vacant ecological niches, creating about 4 different folks: Tundra dwellers, Forests dwellers, Grasslands dwellers and Arboreal dwellers. Over time, this same manipulation began to be used in the improvement of artificial organs, changing the mechanical cradle to an "organic cradle", and resulting in the birth of a new subspecies, the Tic, corpulent, amorphous, grotesque beings with unnatural numbers of limbs.

In 1000 years in the future, the huge changes in the climate and the earth's magnetic field caused by the inversion of the poles, causing havoc on the remaining civilizations. The tic, despite their knowledge and advanced technology, are unable to deal with these changes that have affected their entire infrastructure, which causes their society to become destabilized and to fall into total anarchy, becoming quite violent against each other during this period. Like them, humans are not able to handle these changes, and in the end Homo sapiens become extinct, however, several of the posthuman species created survive and in the following thousands and millions of years, they evolve and adapt to the different environments, adopting new ecological niches.

After 5 million years of uninterrupted evolution, the descendants of those modern humans that migrate into others worlds have returned to Earth. But this species of interstellar colonizers have evolved so radically to the point that they are not able to recognize the earth as their planet of origin, nor the posthuman species as their relative. Some centuries after their arrival, these star travelers "xenoformed" the earth to make it habitable for them, covering the surface with vast alien-like cities both on land and oceans, devastating the terrestrial biosphere, completely changing the atmosphere, and even modifying part of the posthuman fauna to transport, food or work needs by genetic engineering and the fusion of mechanical parts, creating a bunch of aberrant cyborg-like servants.

Eventually, the space-faring humans leave the planet in search of other worlds to collect their resources, leaving the earth in ruins, having exterminated all life from the earth's surface. However, in the largest depths of the ocean in hydrothermal vents, some species survived, including the last post-human species Piscanthropus profundus, which will potentially reclaim the surface of the planet in the distant future.

Timeline and Human Species Included

200 Years Hence

After two centuries of overpopulation, overexploitation of resources, mass extinction of great part of fauna and flora and the pollution the Earth has become inhospitable to human life, so efforts are made to send human groups to other planets. The implements the use of genetic engineering to create the first post-human species

Aquamorph- Homo aquaticus- A frog-like human species, this has gills on the chest, thick blubber layers and paddle-like legs and feet.

Vacuumorph - Homo caelestis- An exoskeletal human genetically modified to live only in the airless void of space. These creatures were not so much bred as built. The attributes that could not be created were grafted onto the creatures; they could not reproduce independently.

300 Years Hence

The earth recovers from the collapse caused by human activities, the survivors of the great human schism have now divided into two groups, some that have returned to a life independent of technology and another that has become completely dependent on it, to the point To depend on machines as life support.

Aquatic- Piscanthropus submarinus- A manatee-like human with gills instead of lungs. The hind legs are fused together to form a paddle-like fluke, but the arms and hands are still human-like, the only engineered sentient species with the exception of the Vacuumorphs and Aquamorphs. It can move itself on dry land encased in a tough sphere of gel with its own saltwater environment inside it.

Hitek- Homo sapiens machinadiumentum- A Homo sapiens subspecies that is the result of inbreeding and medical technologies that allow people with deformities and other medical problems to survive and reproduce. Homo sapiens evolved into this subspecies of its own that is now almost totally dependant on cybernetic technology to survive.

500 Years Hence

Tundra-Dweller- Homo glacis fabricatus- A yeti-like human that fills the ecological niches of musk oxen and caribou. Migratory creatures with thick rolls of blubber with ice-hooks on their hind feet. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.

Plains-Dweller- Homo campis fabricatus- A troll-like human that fills the roles of gazelles, water buffalo, and wildebeest. These humans have modified appendages for scything grass. Capable of growing new teeth through their life and have pot bellies filled with specially-engineered bacteria for digesting grass. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.

Forest-Dweller- Homo silvis fabricatus- An orangutan-like human that fills the roles of sloths, monkeys, and non-human apes. Long arms with thick claws allow these creatures to move faster through the trees than on the ground. They have thick jaws for cracking nuts and are capable of reproducing fertile offspring.

Temperate Woodlands-Dweller- Homo virgultis fabricatus- A non-human ape-like human designed to fill the roles of deer, bears and wolves. They walk on all four legs because the shape of the big toes prevent bipedal locomotion. Omnivorous creatures who are designed to be immune to most natural poisons. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.

1,000 Years Hence

Tic- Homo sapiens accessiomembrum- A descendant of the mechanical Hitek that eventually changeď the mechanic parts for a amorphous organic cradle/cocoon structure to hold the individuals, being characterized these by the number of extremities that each individual decides to have by fashion.

2,000 Years Hence

During this time is only described a glimpse into the common life of some of the surviving artificial human species after the extinction of homo sapiens.

5,000 Years Hence

Memory Person- Homo mensproavodorum- A descendant of the Temperate Woodland-Dweller that can inherit memories from their parents and possess a form of ancestral memory. They were not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures.

Migrant- A migratory descendant of the Plains-Dweller.

Tropical Tree-Dweller- A strictly arboreal descendant of the Forest-Dweller with the ability to hang upside down.

10,000 Years Hence

Symbiont CarrierBaiulus moderatorum- A descendant of Tundra-Dwellers with longer fur and low intelligence.

Hunter Symbiont- Moderator baiuli- An orange pendek-like descendant of Temperate Woodland-Dwellers with a symbiotic relationship with the Symbiont Carrier by being insulated with its partner's long fur and can direct them with a telepathic ability.

Hibernator- Homo dormitor- A species of human descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller where males hibernate during the ice age winter. Was not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures.

Cave-Dweller- Speluncanthropus- A subterranean species descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller that lives in caves and tunnels and only comes to the surface at night to hunt. Eyesight is atrophied but presumably their hearing is acute.

50,000 Years Hence

Islander- Homo nanus- A species of diminutive humans descended from Temperate Woodland-Dwellers that became isolated. They inhabite the tropical, volcanic islands and feed almost exclusively on meat and other high protein sources.

Water-Seeker- Homo vates- A chimpanzee-like species descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller. Due to climatic extremes, it has evolved the ability to detect water over long distances.

Communal Plains-Dweller- Alvearanthropus desertus- A very sociable descendant of a group of Migrants that retreated into the semi-desert areas.

500,000 Years Hence

Social- Colonial humans descended from the Communal Plains-Dwellers. They have thick blades on their hands for fighting. Only one female breeds at any one time.

Boat Person- Descended from the Memory People that have black fur and use their ancestral memories to make wooden boats that look almost like H. sapiens built them.

1 Million Years Hence

Aquatics can now (for a temporary time) crawl on beaches. The tropical tree dwellers have spread into the temperate and coniferous forests. The symbionts are more aggressive.

2 Million Years Hence

Hiver- A taller descendant of the Social, with a shared mind, and builds hive-like structures. It is mainly herbivorous.

Parasite- Nananthropus parasiticus- A small, Sivapithecus-like descendant of the Islander that lives as a parasite by sucking the blood of the Host.

Host- Penarius pinguis- A blubbery-looking, ogre-like hairless descendant of Tundra-Dwellers that migrated south. It is victimized by Parasites, the parasitic humans.

Travelers- Descendants of the Boat People.

Traveler's Attacker- A descendant of the Cave-Dweller that hunts Travelers.

Planter- Descended from the Hibernator and are more long lived forms which have a lifespan of hundreds of years, although most of them spend their time asleep.

Seeker- Descended from the Water-Seeker. Its ears and arms are quite useless and it now lacks eyes and legs. It now resembles a Homo sapiens baby in a way. Hivers use Seekers as guides to find good locations to build hives.

3 Million Years Hence

Slothman- Giganthropus arbrofagus- A Megatherium-like human descended from Tundra-Dwellers that imitate the extinct Megatherium. So heavy they cannot stand upright and have thick claws to pull down branches. Evolved in a predator free environment and have no natural means of defense.

Fish-Eater- Piscator longidigitus- A goblin-like species descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller that hunts fish. It inhabits mountain rivers and lakes where it swims after fish with its long claws like the Baryonyx.

Tree-Dweller- Arbranthropus lentus- An arboreal sloth-like descendant of the Tropical Tree-Dweller.

Desert-Runner- Harenanthropus longipis- A small, swift-footed, desert-dwelling, gremlin-like descendant of the Temperate Woodland-Dweller, that by convergent evolution has evolved the shape that was designed into the plains-dwellers 3 million years before.

Spiketooth- Acudens ferox- a Smilodon-like human, descended form the Temperate Woodland-Dweller, that hunts prey such as Slothmen and Hosts.

5 Million Years Hence

Hunter- A descendant of the Desert-Runner.

Unknown Interestellar Human Descendant- one of the many descendants of the humans that left Earth during the 23rd Century, are never seen outside without protective suits, mounted on antelope-like engineered humans. Therefore, it is unknown what they look like inside. They are, however, quite small by comparison to their 'cousins' and presumably their ancestors, too.

Engineered Pack Animal: Beings of gigantic and voluminous aspect characterized by their long arms and short legs, with enormous mechanical parts in the upper body which fulfill the function of breathing, having their head projecting from their back, these are used as creatures of work.

Food Creature: Engineered by the star travelers, engineered the Host into "mounds of fat and flesh, fed by chemical nutrients." Small machines remove chunks of meat, tissue and body fat while the Food Creature is still alive.

Engineered Worker: Lilliputian creature engineered from the Temperate Woodland-Dwellers work small machinery, instead of head, they have long black boxes-like devices.

Piscanthropus profundus- A species of Aquatic that lives in the dark depths of the ocean. Is sensitive to the infra-red spectrum and moves very sluggishly in order to conserve energy in such a poor habitat. It is implied that they will re-colonize the surface many millions of years after the devastation caused by the star travelers.

See also

External Links

Read the book HERE (new version)