Colonizing Mars could spark new kind of super human species

By Aris Folley,

The human species has significantly evolved during the last two centuries. Our population on Earth has exploded from about one billion to over seven billion people. And we've even changed physically as more humans are taller now than ever before.

But despite all of the natural changes the human species has undergone here on earth, a bigger change looms –- one that's light years away, literally.

Some of the biggest names in science and technology have been calling for the colonization of Mars, including visionaries like SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and physicist Stephen Hawking. They agree that populating other planets could ensure the survival of the human race when the Earth is rendered uninhabitable by a disaster.

In an effort to preserve humankind, scientists and engineers are rapidly developing the technology necessary for interplanetary travel to Mars. But that very journey to Mars, scientists say, would likely permanently change human biology, thus, creating a new species.

"As soon as you get into space, we've seen thousands of genes changing their structure. What we've seen now in the last couple years of study is that some of these genes return to their normal state when they return back to Earth, but there are still hundreds that are perturbed," Christopher Maison, an Associate Professor of Computational Genomics in Computational Biomedicine at Cornell University, said Thursday while speaking at the "Evolution Beyond Earth" program held at New York University.

"What people have noticed is actually within minutes of going into space you start to experience lots of changes," Ting Wu, molecular biologist and Genetics Professor at Harvard Medical School, who was also sitting alongside Maison on the panel, added in an interview with AOL News. A lot these changes occur on account of the human's physiological genetic response to space travel, Wu said, as the human body acclimates to the new environment.

Read more on Aol.