How Would the World Be Different If Modern Humans Had Never Existed?

Imagine a world where hundreds of now-extinct species live in abundance, and many more that are currently on the brink of disappearing are thriving instead. Now imagine you're not part of it.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The website LiveScience asked a group of scientists to hypothesize how Earth would be different if mankind had never existed. Some respondents focused on the abundance of vegetation that the planet would have, while others theorized that there would be far more species of megafauna roaming the Earth, such as cave lions, massive bears, and huge armadillos. In addition to these giant creatures, Neanderthals might still exist, and so might species such as the dodo and the Tasmanian tiger.

The one thing most theories have in common is that Earth would be a better place in many ways without us. "In a world without humans, there would be a much bigger diversity of large mammals, and if you see a larger diversity of large mammals, you tend to see a much more open habitat," said Sören Faurby, a senior lecturer in zoology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. In a 2015 study led by Faurby, it was determined that in a world without humans, much of Earth would resemble today's Serengeti, with much more diversity of life.

People, people, and more people:

  • About 93 percent of all humans in history are no longer among the living.

  • It is theorized that everyone alive today is descended from a small group of Homo sapiens who migrated out of Africa some 2,000 generations ago.

  • The oldest Homo sapiens fossils ever found date back 300,000 years; in comparison, the world is approximately 4.5 billion years old.

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