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Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future

Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future (1990) is a speculative book written by Scottish geologist Dougal Dixon. The theme of the book is a science fiction exploration of the possibilities of the future evolution of humans. Unlike his previous two books, his story context focuses on individuals rather than entire species, even giving them human names.

Plot Summary

The book begins with the impact of genetic engineering. For 200 years modern humans morphed the genetics of other humans to create genetically-altered creatures. The aquamorphs and aquatics are marine humans with gills instead of lungs. One species - the vacuumorph - has been engineered for life in the vacuum of space. Its skin and eyes carry shields of skin to keep its body stable even without pressure. Civilization eventually collapses, with a few select humans escaping to colonize space. The humans that manufactured these species degrade to simple farmers and following a magnetic reversal, were driven to extinction. Other humans, the Hitek, become almost totally dependent on cybernetic technology. With Magnetic reversal imminent, the Hitek built genetically altered humans occupy niches: Genetically-altered humans include a temperate woodland species, a prairie species, a jungle species, and a tundra-dwelling species.

Since then the genetically-altered humans must face a new phenomenon. They can no longer be genetically tweaked in a lab, so all modifications must naturally evolve. Many new forms resulted from natural selection. Socials, colonial humans with a single reproductive parent, Fishers, otter-like fishing humans, Slothman sloth-like humans, Spiketeeth, saber-toothed predatory humans, and even parasitic humans developed through natural changes.

After five million years of uninterrupted evolution, the descendants of modern man that retreated into space returned. Then the world changed dramatically. Earth was terraformed and covered in vast alien cities. The humans and other life forms in this new Earth must breathe air with low oxygen content. Thus the alien invaders use cyborg-technology to fuse the bodies of the few human species they find useful on the planet with air tanks and respiration systems. Genetic modification also returned and giant building humans and tiny connection humans where bred to aid city construction. Genetically created horse-like men serve as mounts for the invaders. Some engineered human species even became farmed like pigs or cattle. As with all civilization, this new era of man fell apart once again.

Eventually the spacefaring humans left, the Earth was left in ruins. With barely any oxygen left in the Earth's atmosphere, all terrestrial life on the planet perished. At the bottom of the world's oceans, at the oases that were the underwater hot springs, life continue. In the abyss, was Piscanthropus profundus, a deep-sea descendant of the now-extinct Aquatic evolved. It is implied that Piscathropus profundis would eventually recolonize Earth's surface.

Human Species Included

200 Years Later

  • Vacuumorph, Homo caelestis, a crab-like human genetically modified to live only in space. It must be noted that 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.
  • Aquamorph, Homo aquaticus, a frog-like human. They have gills on the chest, thick blubber layers and paddle like legs and feet. Unable to speak and having limited facial expression, they could not reproduce independently.

500 Years Later

  • Aquatic, Piscanthropus submarinus, Dugong-like humans with gills instead of lungs. The hind legs are fused together to form a fluke, but the hands and arms are still human like, The only engineered sentient species with the exception of the Vacuumorphs and the Aquamorphs.
  • Tundra-Dwellers, Homo glacis fabricatus, yeti-like humans that fill the ecological niches of musk-oxen. Migratory creatures with thick rolls of blubber with ice-hooks on their hind feet. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.
  • Plains-Dwellers, Homo campis fabricatus , humans that fill the roles of gazelle, water buffalo, and gnu. Gazelle-like humans with 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.
  • Tropical Forest-Dwellers, Homo silvis fabricatus, humans that fill the roles of apes, monkeys, and sloths. Long arms with thick claws allow these creature to move faster through the trees than across the ground. Possess thick jaws for cracking nuts and are capable of reproducing fertile offspring.
  • Temperate Woodland-Dwellers, Homo virgultis fabricatus, humans designed to fill the roles of both deer and bears. Walk on all fours 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.

5000 Years Later

  • Boat-People/Travellers, Homo mensproavodorum, the species known as the memory people that can inherit memories from their parents. They were not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures. They are split into two groups, One called the Boat-People and the other called the Travelers. Although genetically compatible, these two groups are separated by ideology over how to use their memories and thus are both sub-species of Homo mensproavodorum.

10,000 Years

  • Symbionts, Baiulus moderatorum/Moderator baiuli, a species of tundra-dwellers (Baiulus moderatorum) allied with a species of woodland-dwellers (Moderator baiuli.) Communicate through telepathy via nerve on nerve contact.
  • Hibernator, Homo dormitor, a species of human that hibernates during the ice age winter. These creatures can live for hundreds of years although they spend much of that time asleep. Was not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures.
  • Cave Dweller, Spelocanthropus, a subterranean species 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

  • Islander, Homo nanus, a species of diminutive humans who have evolved like the Galapagos Iguanas. They inhabited the tropical, volcanic islands and feed almost exclusively on meat and other high protein sources.
  • Seeker, Homo vates, a species that due to climatic extremes has evolved the ability to detect water over long distances. Originally very similar to the woodland-dwellers, the eyes, ears, and nose eventually atrophied as they were no longer needed. The seekers were protected later by the Socials/Hivers and used to find provisions.

500,000 Years

  • Social, Alvearanthropus desertus, colonial humans descended from plains-dwellers. Mostly meat eating with thick blades on their hands. Only one female breeds at any one time.

2,000,000 Years

  • Hiver, a descendant of the Social, with a shared mind, and builds hive-like structures. Mainly herbivorous.
  • Parasite/Host, Penarius pinguis/Nananthropus parasitus, evolved descendants of the Tundra-dwellers (Penarius pinguis) victimized by tiny human parasites (Nananthropus parasitus) descended from the Islander. Penarius pinguis no longer has the thick wool coat of its predecessor species, but still produces excess blubber which in turn feeds the Nananthropus parasite which drinks its hosts blood and spends its entire life holding onto its hosts rolls of fat.

3,000,000 Years

  • Antman, Formifossor angustus, an anteater-like human. They have blade like nails to rip open ant hills and eyes and nostrils that can be closed. They are also immune to the formic acid in the ants stings, depositing it in their tissue thus making them unpalatable to predators.
  • Spike-Tooth, Acudens ferox, saber-toothed ape-like humans with elongated and serrated incisors instead of canines like the extinct saber-toothed cats. Evolved to specifically hunt large species such as the Sloth Men.
  • Slothman, Giganthropus arbrofagus, humans that imitate the extinct giant ground sloths. 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.
  • Fisher, Piscator longidigitus, a species that lives like an otter. Inhabits mountain rivers and lakes where it swims after fish with its long claws like a Baryonx.

5,000,000 Years

  • Engineered Pack Animal, when the humans that left for the stars, they returned to the Earth, unaware that the planet they discovered was Earth. Eventually, they terraformed it, and engineered the Engineered Pack Animal to put pre-made building parts together.
  • Engineered 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 while the Food Creature is still alive.
  • Engineered Worker: Lillputan creature engineered from the Woodland Dwellers work small machinery.
  • 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 after the star travelers left the Earth's surface barren.

Human Sub-Species Included

The creatures below are all the same species as they all appear to be capable of interbreeding provided that the external barriers between them where removed. The barriers between the three species below appears to be cultural e.g., the Andlas, Tic and Hitec all view each other with distance and isolate themselves from each other. Note that the distinction between a species and a subspecies is that two sub-species would merge back into a single unified population if given the chance while two species would not. It has nothing to do with 'how different' the different groups appear to be to the observer.

  • Man, Homo sapiens sapiens, technically modern humans. After the schism of mankind that separated the human populations, thus allowing them to evolve along their own paths, these Andlas where the only ones to remain true to the ancestral breeding stock.In the future, man has several different names, such as "squatties" living in flooding cities, "handlers" of the Hitek, farmers and fishermen and "Andlas".
  • Hitek, Homo sapiens machinadiumentum, 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 sub-species of its own that is now almost totally dependent on cybernetic technology to survive.
  • Tic, Homo sapiens accessiomembrum, the Hitek eventually found the process of diagnosing newborn babies, then creating a mechanical cradle impractical, eventually designed a human subspecies that required a biological cradle/cocoon. However, the fingers are used primarily for touching. The shape of, and number of limbs, on these bodies is often dependent on fashion.
  • Unknown human descendant. In 5 million years, humans return to earth and build cities once again. They are never seen outside without protective suits, mounted on horse-like creatures. Therefore, it is unknown what they look like inside.

Controversies

It has been implied that Dixon plagiarized at least some of the designs for the future humans from another illustrator, Wayne Douglas Barlowe. In Barlowe's book The Alien Life of Wayne Barlowe, Barlowe includes a section with sketches that are nearly identical to some of the creatures in Dixon's book. Barlowe asserts that they are from a project that was plagiarized by another author.

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