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One day, researchers tell us, there will colonies of humans living and thriving in space. It might be on Mars, the Moon, or some stationary space station built for the purpose of scientific experiments.
But what happens when one of those female space colonists gets pregnant? Granted, we would have all of the medical technology in space that we have on Earth. The larger question is how would a child born in outer space be different from one born in a hospital here on our home planet?
According to evolutionary biologist Scott Solomon, there’s a very real chance that babies born in space would not be fully human.
Solomon even suggests human colonists might not be human at all:
“Eventually, people living in space could evolve to be different enough from people on Earth that we would consider them to be different species.”
Whoa! A different species? Kind of makes you wonder if anyone would want to give birth at all until they got back to Earth.
One of the specific changes Solomon predicts that would be seen in babies born in space has a great deal to do with the loss of bone density that occurs in a low-gravity environment, meaning a mother would be a risk of fracturing her pelvis during natural childbirth. To mitigate that, cesarean deliveries would become the norm. That, according to Solomon, would “lead to larger heads in our descendants because they wouldn’t be constrained by the size of the birth canal.”
But a larger head is just the beginning of the changes Solomon says we’d see in space babies:
“[We may evolve] new types of skin pigments, like the melanin that protects our skin from ultraviolet sunlight on Earth,” he told BI. “That could mean that future generations living beyond Earth will evolve to have different skin colors.”
Little green men and ladies?! Imagine the looks from humans on Earth when a relative sends us an email with a photo of our new grandchild or niece. We open the attachment and there before us is a child with a large head and green skin. That would take some getting used to.
Evolution is a natural part of every species. It’s what we do in order to survive as our environment changes. But it remains to be seen if we’re fully prepared for the somewhat radical vision laid out by Scott Solomon. Yes, we’d all adapt, but it would take time.
Until then, we’ll have to rely on our imaginations to prepare us for space babies.
For more on space babies, there’s this video from Business Insider:
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