Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future

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 and illustrated by Philip Hood. The theme of the book is a science fiction body horror 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 to 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 were 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 hence

  • Vacuumorph, Homo caelestis, an exoskeletal human genetically modified to live only in space. 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.

300 years hence

  • 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. It can move itself on the dry land encased in a gelatinous saltwater suit.
  • Hitek, Homo sapiens machinadiumentum, a Homo sapiens subspecies that is 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.

500 years hence

  • Tundra-Dwellers, Homo fabricatus glacis, Yeti-like Humans that fill the ecological niches of Musk Oxen and Caribou. Migratory creatures with thick rolls of blubber with ice-hooks on their hind feet. Capable of reproducing fertile offspring.
  • Plains-Dwellers, Homo fabricatus campis, Troll-like Humans that fill the roles of Gazelles, Water Buffalo and Wildebeests. These 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 fabricatus silvis, Orangutan-like 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 fabricatus virgultis, Australopithecus-like humans designed to fill the roles of Deer, Bears and Wolves. 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.

1,000 years hence

  • 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.

2,000 years hence

Homo sapiens has left Earth for life on a new planet.

5,000 years hence

  • Memory People, Homo mensproavodorum, a descendant of the Temperate Woodland-Dweller that can inherit memories from their parents. They were not engineered sentient but re-evolved intelligence and can make rudimentary structures.
  • Migrant, a migratory descendant of the Plains-dweller.
  • Tropical Tree-Dweller, a strictly arboreal descendant of the Tropical Forest-Dweller with the ability to hang upside down.

10,000 years hence

  • Symbiont Carrier, Baiulus moderatorum, a descendant of Tundra-Dwellers with longer fur and low intelligence.
  • Hunter Symboint, Moderator baiuli, an Orang Pendek-like descendant of Temperate Woodland-Dwellers with a symbiotic relationship with the Symbiont Carrier by being insulated with its partner's long fur and can direct them with a telepathic ability.
  • Hibernator, Homo dormitor, a species of human (descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller) 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, Speluncanthropus, a subterranean species, descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller, 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 hence

  • Islander, Homo nanus, a species of diminutive humans descended from Temperate Woodland-Dwellers that became isolated. They inhabite the tropical, volcanic islands and feed almost exclusively on meat and other high protein sources.
  • Water-Seeker, Homo vates, a Goblin-like species descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller. Due to climatic extremes, it has evolved the ability to detect water over long distances.
  • Communal Plains-Dweller, Alvearanthropus desertus, a very sociable descendant of the Migrant.

500,000 years hence

  • Social, colonial, Bogeyman-like humans descended from the Communal Plains-Dwellers. Mostly meat eating with thick blades on their hands. Only one female breeds at any one time.
  • Boat People, descended from the Memory People with black fur and the remarkable ability to make wooden boats that look almost like H. sapiens built them.

1,000,000 years hence

Aquatics can now (for a temporary time) crawl on beaches.

The symbionts are more aggressive.

2,000,000 years hence

  • Hiver, a taller descendant of the Social, with a shared mind, and builds hive-like structures. It is mainly herbivorous.
  • Parasite, Nananthropus parasiticus, a small, Sivapithecus-like descendant of the Islander that lives as a parasite by sucking the blood of larger animals.
  • Host, Penarius pinguis, a blubbery-looking, hairless descendant of Tundra-Dwellers that migrated south. It usually the main creature to be victimized by Parasites, the parasitic humans.
  • Travellers, descendants of the Boat People.
  • Traveller's Attacker, a descendant of the Cave-Dweller that hunts Travellers.
  • Planter, descended from the Hibernator.
  • Seeker, descended from the Water-Seeker. Its ears are quite useless and it now lacks eyes. It now resembles a Homo sapiens baby in a way. Hivers use Seekers as guides to find good locations to build hives.

3,000,000 years hence

  • Antman, Formifossor angustus, a Anteater-like human descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller. 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.
  • Spiketooth, Acudens ferox, a saber-toothed, pack-hunting, Sasquatch-like human descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller with elongated and serrated incisors instead of canines like the extinct Smilodon. Evolved to specifically hunt large species such as the Slothmen.
  • Slothman, Giganthropus arbrofagus, Megatherium-like humans descended from Tundra-Dwellers that imitate the extinct Megatherium. 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.
  • Fish-Eater, Piscator longidigitus, an Ogre-like species (descended from the Temperate Woodland-Dweller) that lives like an Otter. Inhabits mountain rivers and lakes where it swims after fish with its long claws like a Baryonx.
  • Tree-Dweller, Arbranthropus lentus, an arboreal Sloth-like descendant of the Tropical Tree-Dweller.
  • Desert-Runner, Harenanthropus longipis, a small, swift-footed, desert-dwelling, Gremlin-like descendant of the Temperate Woodland-Dweller.

5,000,000 years hence

  • Engineered Pack Animal: After the humans that left for the stars returned to the Earth, they terraformed it and engineered the 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, tissue and body fat while the Food Creature is still alive.
  • Engineered Worker: Lilliputian creature engineered from the Temperate 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.
  • Hunter, a descendant of the Desert-Runner.

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 Hitek 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. They are, however, quite small by comparison to their 'cousins' and presumably their ancestors, too.

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.

See also

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