Humans in 100,000 years: What will we look like?

By Michael Roppolo
  • Future faces - Today.jpg

    Modern-day humans may someday evolve to have larger eyes, more pigmented skin and a thicker eyelids, thanks to genetic engineering technology. Here’s how they’ll change. (Nickolay Lamm /

  • Future faces - 20,000 Years.jpg

    In 20,000 years, in a world where genetic engineering is commonplace and humans have established colonies in space, human knowledge of the universe will increase and as such, the size of the brain will increase, Dr. Alan Kwan theorizes. As a result, the human head will have to become larger to accommodate the larger brain size. (Nickolay Lamm /

  • Future faces - 60,000 Years.jpg

    In 60,000 years, Dr. Alan Kwan states that after millennia of traveling through space, zygotic genome engineering will be used to create humans with larger eyes, more pigmented skin and a thicker eyelids. This will be done in order to see better in the dimmer environment of space, to shield humans from the UV rays and alleviate the effects of low to no gravity like today’s astronauts on the International Space Station. (Nickolay Lamm /

  • Future faces - 100,000 Years.jpg

    100,000 years from now, Dr. Alan Kwan believes that future humans will have much larger eyes and “eye-shine” due to the tapetum lucidum, a layer of tissue behind the retina of the eye. This would be done to help protect our eyes from cosmic rays. (Nickolay Lamm /

Homo sapiens have slowly evolved over thousands of millennia, but what happens when modern technology comes into play?

Visual artist, Nickolay Lamm of Pittsburgh, Pa., tried to answer that question. Interested in illustrating how humans would look like in 100,000 years, he asked science for the answers.

“Because I’m not expert in evolution, [I] got in touch with Dr. [Alan] Kwan who gave me his educated guess at what we may look like,” Lamm told in an email.

Working with Dr. Kwan, who has a PhD in computational genomics from Washington University, they established “one possible timeline” to future human evolution of sorts. It’s not science — just a “thought experiment,” Kwan has clarified — but it’s fascinating to think about.

Published on, these changes to modern-day humans were based on the assumption that by the 210th century, scientists will be able to modify human appearances before birth through zygotic genome engineering technology.

Kwan based his theories on the accepted idea that between 800,000 and 200,000 years ago, the Earth underwent a period of fluctuation in its climate, which resulted in a tripling of the human brain, as well as skull size. Scientists agree that the rapid changes in climate may have created a favorable environment for those with the ability to adapt to new challenges and situations.

This trend has noticeably continued, for British scientists have found that modern humans have less prominent features and higher foreheads than people during medieval times.

“My goal is to get people talking and thinking about things they otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, this ‘Future Face’ project is getting people talking about whether or not something like ‘Gattaca’ may happen,” Lamm told, referring to the 1997 movie starring Ethan Hawke.

Some have criticized Dr. Kwan for appearing to ignore common scientific knowledge. Such 100,000 year projections are “fantasy,” Razib Khan, a geneticist, told Matthew Herper of Forbes.

“This is more of a speculative look than a scientific look into one possible future where human engineering replaces natural evolution in determining human physiology, but we have been very happy that our humble project has garnered so much attention and provided a platform for others share their own vision of the future,” Kwan said, according to Lamm.

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