Planet of the Rats as the title of a movie doesn’t hold a candle to the variety featuring talking primates, but according to scientific studies this is where we’re heading, so we should start getting used to it already now.
Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, a paleobiologist at the University of Leicester, recently unveiled his vision of Earth in the future, populated by giant super-evolved rats. And as with everything else that goes tits up on this planet – we only have ourselves to blame.
Humans are awesome at holding on to the much-coveted top-of-the-food-chain position. Since we don’t really have too much respect for other life forms, we’ve become great at driving other species, directly or indirectly, to extinction.
This has caused several gaps in Mother Nature’s precious circle of life, and rats are the perfect species to fill these voids. These resilient bastards will survive pretty much everything out there. They have been introduced to virtually every single environment on the planet and before long they are thriving.
Rats, just like us, are perfectly capable of adapting to their surroundings and they can solve complex problems in order to get food, which isn’t that hard since these buggers will eat just about anything, including other rats.
Don’t think for a second, however, that rats of the future will be anything like present-day rats. Judging from Zalasiewicz’s report, we’d better start thinking about what to do about these pesky rodents before it’s too late.
“Given enough time, rats could probably grow to be at least as large as the capybara, the world’s largest rodent that lives today – that can reach 180lbs (80 kilos). If the ecospace was sufficiently empty, then they could get larger still,” his report read.
“Animals can evolve to smaller as well as larger sizes. This will depend on what particular circumstances they find themselves in and what the selective pressures on them are.”
The largest known extinct rodent, Josephoartegasia monesi, roamed earth three million years ago. This petrifying rat-creature was larger than a bull and weighed over a tonne.
“Each island that rats are now present on is in effect a laboratory of future evolution – and each will produce different results. So there will be future thin rats, future fat rats, slow and heavy rats, fast and ferocious rats, probably aquatic rats – the list goes on,” Zalasiexicz’s explained.
Although none of these super-rats will be around for at least a couple million years, investing in over-sized mousetraps and tonnes of cheese is perfectly natural, right?