I'm doing #research for my book which is a #sf story about the products of futuristic #geneticengineering and my husband mentioned a great article... that is locked behind a paywall. Working on getting the hardcopy from my in-laws, but in the meantime, I thought I'd ask the Fediverse:
What small, plausible tweaks to the human genome could you envision to allow us to live longer, healthier, more productive lives? In a SF world, what would you expect "supersoldier" physiology to look like?
The article from Scientific American, if anyone is curious:
I look forward to reading your book.
Genetic engineering might target bio factors most impacted by climate change, which would be a plausible angle to the story since were facing demise from that cause.
Ideas for enviro condition to augment against (and appearance) might vary to where a humanoid lives. On surface: solar radiation resistance (brown leathery skin), low water need (camel hump? Cactus folds?) Underground: See in the dark, different air/gas needs for breathing.
But there might be other interesting ideas that aren't as apparent morphologically, such as the ability to digest wood fibers as a food source. Or to breath ocean water saturated by CO2. Internal augmentations.
Of course, augmented strength/vision/hearing seem like easy givens, but more interesting might be augmented balance/coordination. Parcour X 1,000!
@wion I've seen some interesting stuff about changes to the throat to make it easier to avoid choking hazards, and a lot of alterations to the spine and hips that would force better posture. I like the idea of more efficient digestion -- and as changes to human food production occur, I'm most interested in things that we didn't evolve because they're not "energy efficient" but would totally help out, like wider pelvises allowing bigger brains.
I see. An interesting counter to that would be what are the compromises of doing those 'inefficient' alternations? That could be part of the story. I.e. some of us now have wider pelvises, but what does it mean for thos people besides child-bearing?
Speaking of posture, that reminds me of something I read years ago in biology about our knees being half-way 'evolved' from walking on all fours to fully upright. We aren't there yet. Wonder what that might look like, if 'not there yet'.
As I think about this knee thing, and other creatures that walk on two legs that are comparatively the same size as humans, I can only think of various species of flightless birds, like emu, ostrich, etc, which have knees that bend backward, and they are extremely fast runners. Way faster than us.
@wion From what I understand, humans are evolved more as endurance predators than speed predators; more wolves than cheetahs, if you will. I wonder how the knees play into that... but also it's worth noting that at this stage in our evolution, neither speed nor marathon endurance are our main priority; longevity is. What would _that_ kind of knee look like?
The endurance angle makes sense. Marine biology was my thing, not terrestrial.
On that note, in your world building, maybe we don’t stay on land anymore, at least not on the surface. Maybe extreme heat and food/species collapse means we must return to the oceans. Thus we don’t need knees, or even legs. Maybe we adopt a more sea lion-like morphology and physiology. Fishtails are a little much. ;)
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