If humans colonize the Moon, given the different environmental conditions and population isolation, would we likely evolve into a different species over time?
Evolutionary biologists are not sure what it takes for a new species to evolve, but certainly one requirement is an isolated population. Thus, the answer to your question depends on how genetically isolated this lunar colony is and for how long. If there is a continuing mix with genes from Earth, such evolution is not likely. There is also the question of whether the lunar colonists want to evolve. By the time we have colonies on the Moon, we are also likely to have great capability in genetic engineering. In this case, the process will be human-controlled, very different from natural speciation.
NLSI Interim Director
February 7, 2008