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Here’s the breakdown of my story:

  • Humans have basically destroyed Earth, milked it of all its natural resources. We've set on finding new planets to find a new place to live. The result: The discovery of crops and materials on other planets that can survive in drastic conditions. We're basically colonizing the galaxy and new life we've found, some of which live on planets with harsh weather conditions, varying gravity ranging from 1/10 to 5x Earth’s gravitational pull, etc.
  • These planets are all capable of harboring the bare minimum of life; Earth-like atmosphere, water sources; a tardigrade would live a nice life.
  • I’m not looking for an entirely different species worth of genetic evolution, more so I want them to be visibly different (i.e., some can reach up to 7 feet, or have bulkier legs/arms/thighs/biceps), especially since it’s in the form of a graphic novel; nothing too different from our current form.
  • Any time that’s needed between the second everyone splits off from Earth to the minute it’s obvious that these people have evolved I need to make up a bunch of technological/sociopolitical filler for, but I was hoping this could realistically span over the course of a few hundred years.
  • Along with the technological advancements that would come, I can also incorporate genetic modifications as an excuse to justify human survival and accelerated evolution depending on how much it would help. Let's assume the baseline is minimal genetic changes, enough that we could survive a month on a certain planet without the help of machines or artificial biomes.

I’m aware it’d take about a million years on Earth for us to evolve into a different species, however if subjected to drastic changes in the environment (or even with the help of some ✨science magic✨), would it be excusable for humans to evolve into distinct races within a few hundred years?

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  • $\begingroup$ You might want to research "speciation" case studies in the real world. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 1, 2022 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ Another issue is going to be the 5g planets. They're not going to be able to survive more than a few days without having been genetically engineered to do so. With Gen-Eng. tech, you can start creating species in a single generation. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2022 at 4:47
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    $\begingroup$ 200 years is awfully short, specially if people keep arriving on the newly colonized planet. Having said that, average length of people in some parts of the world (for instance, the Netherlands) has significantly increased in a short time period. But this is usually attributed to an abundance of food, not a genetic change. It seems unlikely there will be an abundance of food on a newly planet -- it may be more realistic for people to shrink in size, due to a shortage of food. You need a lot more energy to grow to over 2 meters tall than to grow 1.6 meters. $\endgroup$
    – Abigail
    Apr 1, 2022 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ Do you want human-like humanoids evolve on different planets naturally, or with the help of some kind of "intelligent designer"? The answers would be very different. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Apr 1, 2022 at 18:03

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Natural evolution usually takes hundreds or thousands of generations. Current human generation time is around 25 years, so 200 years is way too short for natural human evolution under normal circumstances.

However...

People in your world are colonising other solar systems so they have some very advanced technology. It would be quite conceivable that colonists would be genetically engineered to survive in the environment of the world they live on.

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would it be possible for humans to evolve into distinct races within a few hundred years?

Few hundred years is not enough to have different races stemming out of homo sapiens.

We are still essentially the same species which started writing on clay tables in the fertile crescent, and that was way more than few centuries ago.

Considering that 1 generation covers 20-30 years, in 1 century we are just 3 to 5 generations down the line. We are just about 12 generations from the French revolution. Our way of thinking is changed much more than our biology.

Even dogs or other animals purposely selected by humans for specific goals can still cross breed with their wild counterparts, and we have been working on them for way more than few centuries with them having shorter times between generations.

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    $\begingroup$ If the OP is only looking for visibile distinctions you might get something in 12 generations if there are extremely different selective pressures at play...which I assumed there would be if the we're talking about different planets. This real world case study claims 2 generations: cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/… $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 1, 2022 at 4:07

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