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The setting is fifty-five million years in the future on Earth, with multiple humanoid species that have different ancestors, but share similar characteristics. Their ancestors would be animals that live today, such as alligators, cats, crows, octopuses... but their descendants would evolve human like traits that would make them very similar to each other to the point where some of these new species could be able talk or live in peace with each other. Something like relations or very similar characteristic despite vastly diverse ancestors between humans, vulcans and klingons in Star Trek.

My current theory is that around the year 2100, a mass extinction event would occur. It would be serious enough to wipe out a great amount of fauna and flora and make the human race leave the planet before the unstoppable event. It would also destroy many buildings, including factories and GMO research stations (which would be very popular at the time). Could it be possible for the chemicals to help the rNA which escaped from the facilities to get inside embryos of surviving organisms to trigger the evolution of human like traits?

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As the horrors of the Second World War are gradually forgotten, the nations of the world gradually become more Fascist. The major nations become obsessed with racial purity, though disagree on which race is pure.

Viruses can carry DNA with them. In secret each nation develops viruses to "purify" DNA by rewriting it with their race. One of these viruses leaks (or is leaked) leading to an escalation where all of the viruses are leaked.

While the viruses were mostly well engineered and would not have side-effects worse than a cold, there are hundreds of them and they interact poorly. Humanity is devastated by having its DNA rewritten over and over again leading to near extinction.

Just as viruses can cross over from animals to humans, the reverse can also occur. While the viruses are not as effective at rewriting animal DNA, they do gradually end up inserting human DNA into other animals. The viruses initially only infect mammals as these are already genetically similar to humans. However some of these highly advanced viruses were engineered to be highly adaptable and over the years also spread to non-mammals.

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  • $\begingroup$ If such thing is possible, then it likely happened with some natural virus with some animals, but not necessarily with humans. $\endgroup$ – user75689 May 23 at 15:08
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Healing nanites gone bad: In this scenario, humans made nanites that were supposed to cure diseases, heal wounds, and do it all in a highly intelligent manner. They would have been customized to each individual, having that person's DNA and maybe even their body plan programmed into them. Of course they leaked into the environment, but it would take centuries for the nanites to change into something that would affect other species, right?

  • Programmed nanites with corrupted programming begin adapting to new hosts. They start healing these species, but also rewriting their DNA into new forms more in line with original programming. Suddenly species all over the world begin exhibiting human traits, but not completely. Each one would inherit a different set of human traits, and if these symbiotic nanites had some sort of semi-intelligent central processor (a symbiote organism) the nanites might even be trying to adapt the organisms to human-like characteristics in a deliberate way, creatively rewriting DNA to build a functional organism.
  • Cat-boy sleeps with another cat and the nanites spread to the offspring who are rewritten to the new code. Lacking competition from humans, these new humanoids would rapidly form new intelligent species. They would have a mix of human and animal traits, and the degenerate nanites could gradually fade out or specialize to the point they don't spread anymore.
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    $\begingroup$ This is the only answer with the slightest chance of working, if we assume the nanites can "repair"down to the DNA level. The could also be an attempt at uplifting that got out of hand. $\endgroup$ – John May 24 at 1:30
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The mutations would be random. You would need some kind of genetic engineering to produce a specific mutation. (Perhaps a escaped retrovirus inserting them?)

Whether random or engineered, however, the question is what characteristic in their environment is selecting for these traits once they appear? The traits will have to be immediately and practically useful to be selected for.

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One theory is that Humans started walking upright because of grass. Tall grass spread through where proto humans lived and those able to get their heads above it to look around got a distinct advantage.

Other animals failed to fill this niche because the new humans were already doing it. So what your other animals need is tall grass, no humans, and time.

And luck since, well, giraffes.

Different species evolving to have similar characteristics happens often enough that there is actually a name for it: Convergent Evolution. The same pressures applied to different species can produce similar adaptations. It has been used to argue against ideas like intelligent design and The Fine-Tuning Argument. The most succinct expression of which comes from Douglas Adams Puddle's Pothole.

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  • $\begingroup$ Seems kind of un plausibile since any animal with eyes in the front of the face can easily cross their eyes to see through grass as if it was made of clear glass. That's how it is speculated that all simians including primates evolved eyes in the front, as to see through leaves while hiding in trees. $\endgroup$ – user75689 May 23 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ I.e a lion can just hide inside tall grass while stalking a zebra because the lion can cross his eyes. The same a monkey can see a fruit through dense foliage while hiding in a tree. $\endgroup$ – user75689 May 23 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ Watch out there. The manned wolf lives in very tall grass, but instead of evolving bipedalism, it just evolved longer legs, and we don't see that many bipedal mammals in the savanna. Tall grass isn't the only factor that would cause a quadruped more adapted for moving on all fours to suddenly stand up. $\endgroup$ – ProjectApex May 23 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ bipedalism evolved in humans becasue they were already tool users and stood semi erect, thus fully erect was easier than reevolving quadrupedalism. tall grass is not enough by itself. $\endgroup$ – John May 24 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ What separately evolved upright biped do you think exists? hominids have only been around a short time grasslands existed a lot longer and still no other upright bipeds. most of the history of grasslands has had the absence of humans, convergent evolution has constraints it does not justify anything you want. $\endgroup$ – John May 24 at 1:44
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Nothing would encourage the anthropomorphization of multiple species at the same time. The chances of such a thing occurring are astronomically low. There is no way that this could realistically happen without genetic engineering, so either humans created these animals and they rebelled, leading to a global disaster and forcing the humans to flee Earth. Another possibility is that humans created only one species which rebelled and forced humans to leave, and this species used whatever technology they gathered from the humans to create more species.

However, no animal species that I know of has ever lasted 55 million years, so the most likely scenario is that humans leave because of an unrelated disaster, and one animal species naturally evolves human-like traits, and eventually gives a plethora of other animals human-like traits when the species is advanced enough.

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First of all, understand that 55 million years is a long time for evolution. I would expect one could turn dolphins into humans in that time frame.

Evolution is a matter of mutation and selection. The mutations tend to occur naturally, but stress encourages more. (Especially pollution and radioactive fallout.) But the selection is the key. Normally, we talk about "natural selection", but it doesn't have to be. Domesticated animals have been subjected to unnatural selection, in this case, driven by humans.

If computer systems survive that, for some reason, want humans, they could reward and punish or cull animals based on how human they are. If every generation or two, all but the most human of a herd are killed, the herd will quickly become more human. Note that "quickly" in this case is still thousands or hundreds of thousands of generations.

The manipulation technology involved could easily be based on an automated cattle ranch. Combined with some automatic maintenance technology for the computers and power grid, and the technology isn't even that far fetched.

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Basically, the best thing you could do would be to litter the environment with all kinds of things only operable by human beings which would give an animal an advantage. Think of raccoons or keas as an example. We can put things under lock and key, but they can figure them out, and they have an ability to manipulate them to get into them. Make these things you specifically need a humanoid body to operate, and you're already creating some pressure to evolve that way. Of course, it would still need to be gradual.

So, maybe you have a series of machines, which never wear down, and are plentiful, and continue to operate and dispense resources like food. Different ones require different levels of human-like specialization. As they adapt to one, the animals are more equipped to move on to the next.

This could also work for language. If there are things that are voice-controlled, you'll be giving an advantage to anything that can mimic human language.

This seems far-fetched--a series of unrelated animals coming together and evolving into one shape, using one communication system, to take advantage of a civilization made by another species--but this is actually exactly what myrmecophiles are. Beetles, caterpillars, spiders--all kind of invertebrates have evolved to look and act like ants, and communicate like the ants, just to take advantage of what an ant society has to offer!

So, just make yourself some myrmecophiles for humans.

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Domestication.

The reason why dogs have enough muscles in their faces to mimic a smile, while cats don't and have to rely on mimicking the frequency of a baby's cry.

Citation needed for dogs. I don't know if they had those muscles prior to domestication.

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