Why Humans Will Survive the Next World-Ending CatastropheAnnalee Newitz5/01/13 7:11pmFiled to: there's hopegeologysciencefuturismmass extinctionbooksscatter adapt and rememberannalee newitz737EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkThere's growing evidence that Earth may be headed for a mass extinction, where over 75 percent of all species die out and the world is changed forever. There's also evidence that humans would survive such an event — for better or for worse. Here's why.AdvertisementOver the past half-billion years, life on Earth suffered through five mass extinctions, where the majority of species on the planet died off and a whole new set of ecosystems rose up to replace them. Most of us have heard about the most recent catastrophe like this, when an asteroid hit the planet and, along with some ferociously large volcanoes in India, managed to wipe out almost the entire dinosaur population 65 million years ago. Instead of a world of dinosaurs, we now live in a world dominated by furry mammals like ourselves. Below, you can see a timeline of Earth's previous mass extinctions.So why do I have the audacity to claim that humans could survive events like these? I've been thinking about this question a lot over the past few years, as I researched and wrote my book Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction. Quite simply, there's a solid body of evidence that suggests Homo sapiens has the characteristics of a mass extinction survivor species. As geologist and mass extinction expert Mike Benton put it, the animals who make it through planetary disasters tend to be adaptable and live at high population sizes — just like humans. Whatever our flaws, you can't accuse us of having a small population. Nor can you say that we don't know how to adapt to pretty much any crazy environment on Earth — as well as environments in space, beneath the ground, and under the water.