What if we weren’t the dominant species on this planet? What if we had to compete with every other species on Earth?
We are outnumbered. We are surrounded. And our bargaining position is not very good.
After all, humans and animals don’t have the sunniest history. Every day, nearly three billion animals are processed for human consumption. And more than 100 million animals are used in clinical and commercial product tests every year.
In the 850 zoos across the world, there’s said to be 15,000 different species held in captivity. And for the animals that are free, development, ecological damage, not to mention poaching, pose a constant threat to their survival.
For thousands of years, it’s been a pitched battle. Now, it’s an even playing field. Animals are as smart as humans.
Even with the way things are today, the wild world is a dangerous one. Elephants can squash you, snakes can bite you, mosqitoes spread malaria, and even some snails carry parasites that infect 20,000 people per year.
But would equal intelligence amongst the world’s species lead to all-out war between man and beast? If so, primates are our biggest threat.
Chimpanzees share 99% of our DNA. But they’re stronger than us, they’re smart enough to learn how to use a computer, and with their opposable thumbs they could, they can pull a trigger.
Humans would still have the advantage, however, since we’ve had centuries to learn and improve our technology, while chimps would struggle to adapt. And in the meantime, we might also have our hands full just fighting off large predators like lions, tigers, rhinos, and bears.
Of course, this is all just the worst-case scenario. Realistically, animals would continue to act as they do today. They’d still hunt or forage for food and seek safe shelter; they’d just be a lot better at it.
Large predators might be more cunning, while herbivores or grazers might get better at hiding, or at least, avoiding large, open fields…
As for our chimp problem, it might not be a problem at all! Studies show that primates have emotions and are capable of empathy. We may end up bonding with them, and co-existing as companions.
So far, we’ve focused on the big and obvious threats, but it’s the ones we can’t see that are likely to cause the most trouble. Bacteria.
These microorganisms outnumber the cells in our bodies 10 to 1. And since overusing antibiotics has only made bacteria more resistant, just imagine the damage they could do if they were as smart as us!
Now it’s true that there’s also good bacteria. But even so, do you really want your body to be a constant warzone between thousands of microscopic geniuses?
Fortunately, a man-beast evolutionary smackdown just isn’t going to happen. But let’s not take our dominance for granted. We all share the same planet, and being the smartest makes it our duty to protect the Earth and all forms of life.
Subscribe to What-If on Youtube or follow the show on Facebook Watch.
- “How Many Animals Are There In The World?”. 2019. Worldatlas. Accessed August 9 2019.
- “Consent Form | Popular Science”. Maldarelli, Claire, 2019. popsci.com. Accessed August 9 2019.
- “How Many Animals Are Killed For Food Every Day?”. 2018. sentientmedia.org. Accessed August 9 2019.
- “Facts And Figures On Animal Testing | Cruelty Free International”. 2019. crueltyfreeinternational.org. Accessed August 9 2019.
- “How Many Animals Live In Zoos? | Zoosmedia”. 2018. zoos.media. Accessed August 9 2019.
- “10 Ways Chimps And Humans Are The Same”. 2017. Jane Goodall. Accessed August 9 2019.
- “NIH Human Microbiome Project Defines Normal Bacterial Makeup Of The Body”. 2015. National Institutes Of Health (NIH). Accessed August 9 2019.