The Future is Wild

Project Type:

Future Biology

Official Webpage:


Discovery Networks

The Future is Wild is a Canadian documental using computer-generated special effects and imagery to specularte about future life in Earth if humans went extinct. The documental was elaborated by many scientists including Dougal Dixon, creator of the book After Man: A Zoology from the Future, about the same theme.

This documental is divided by three timelines: 5 million years, 100 million years and 200 million years into the future, exploring all aspects about their geology and biology, as well as climate change in the atmosphere of this different future worlds.

Timelines: Edit

5 Million Years into the Future: Edit

  • World's Geography:

Future is Wild World 1

The Earth is in the last throes of the current ice age. Humans are extinct and much of the world's fresh water is locked up in the huge ice caps that reach as far south as Paris and north to Buenos Aires. On the edges of the ice, animals have adapted to the bitter cold and vicious winters; in the tropics, the rainforest has all but disappeared, replaced by dry savannah. Yet change is in the air - a sudden increase in volcanic eruptions pours greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the planet begins to warm up, and the melting ice creates massive, devastating floods.

  • Habitats:

-North America Desert:

The Earth is in another ice age. The ice extends as far south as the northern border of the United States. Central North America is cold and dry. The land has become a vast, barren dust bowl. The drier climate has had dramatic effects on the interior of the North American continent, turning it into a vast, cool desert frequently battered by fierce sandstorms. The desert is as bitterly cold as the Gobi desert once was. It stretches to the Rocky Mountains - 2400km. The piercing winds that stir up the sandstorms scour away the soil. A little snow falls infrequently on high ground. Tornados frequently rip across the area. A few hardy plants survive in these harsh conditions.

-Amazon Grasslands:

The Amazon grassland lies at the tip of what was once South America. In the Amazon basin, the extensive rainforests are now reduced to a few tiny pockets, surrounded by extensive areas of tall grass savannah with scattered trees. Rainfall is low, and the Amazon river has dwindled. In these dry conditions there are frequent bushfires, triggered by lightning or the Sun. The fires cover huge areas at great speed. Grasses rapidly recover from these fires; slow-growing trees are few.

-Mediterranean Basin:

Movement of the African and European plates has left the Mediterranean land locked. Combined with the drier atmosphere, this has resulted in the Mediterranean Sea largely drying out. Global temperatures are five or six degrees Celsius below the present day. There are glaciers in the Alps; and beyond them is the Mediterranean basin. This is 6,500ft or 2000m below sea level. It has brine lakes and salt flats surrounded by karst - dry, ridged limestone. There are deep cracks in the limestone, called grykes. When it rarely rains, the surface of the salt turns to a salty mush. Mountains - once islands - rise out of the plains. They were once Mediterranean islands. Otherwise the surface is completely flat and white. Smudges of red are made by salt-loving bacteria. The salt flats shimmer. Here and there are lakes of very salty water - ten times the salinity of seawater. They have no fish - only some algae and bacteria can survive. Clouds of brine flies flourish here. In Southern Europe, beyond the icecaps, there are clusters of rowan and birch trees.

-North European Ice Caps:

The Earth is in a new ice age. Northwest Europe will still be battered by westerlies carrying a lot of water so there will be severe blizzards in the bitterly cold winter. Ice sheets cover most of N America and all of Scandinavia, and reach down into Northern Europe. Huge icebergs float in the freezing ocean. Because so much water is locked up in the icecaps, the sea level has fallen by 500ft (150m). England and France are joined by a frozen plain of sand and gravel - the tundra. Winter night-time temperatures are -60oC. Meltwater gathers in the summer. There are cracked and broken rocks all around. Domes, called pingos, rise up where frozen water has pushed up the rocks. The few plants are cottongrass, lichens and heather. Some hardy trees like willow grow low and gnarled. All these grow in shallow pockets of soil. Flies gather around the pools, and are fed on by migrant birds, which spend the winters further south.

100 Million Years into the Future:Edit

  • World's Geography:

Future is Wild World 2

Volcanoes belching out greenhouse gases eventually turned the Earth into a hothouse - sweltering, steamy, wet. Rainforests coat the land and the atmosphere is rich in carbon dioxide and oxygen. Animals adapt to the damp warmth; insects grow huge, flying insects have metre wingspans, and the world's biggest creatures walk the Earth. But the Earth itself is restless. Although volcanoes have been active throughout, now, huge eruptions bring the planet to the brink of its worst disaster ever. Most of life is annihilated, leaving the world almost barren and empty.

  • Habitats:

-The Great Plateu:

Australia has travelled so far north - into the northern hemisphere - that it has collided with Asia and North America. The collision of Australia and Asia has resulted in a massive mountain chain, far higher than the Himalayas - 10,000 metres high. The mountains have sharp, uneroded peaks. Rock compression has thrown up the Great Plateau, the broadest tract of uplands on Earth. The climate of the peaks is harsh, but a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes life easier for plant life. There is heavy rain on the mountains, and heavy seasonal rain on the plateau. On the great high-altitude plateau formed between Asia and Australia, silver spiders spread their nets to catch fluffy seeds carried on the wind. The changing temperature and atmosphere of Earth encourages the growth of large arthropods - insects, crustaceans and arachnids. So the spiders are bigger than their human-era ancestors, and they store the seeds in huge granaries. The long wings of the windrunner of the Great Plateau, descended from the cranes, are adapted for gliding at speed; while the feathered legs help with slow-speed flying. Their blue colouring helps reflect ultraviolet light at high altitudes, and the eyelid membranes are polarised to form a pair of natural sunglasses.

-Bengal Swamp:

The ice age has ended. The ice has melted, and sea levels have risen, changing the shape of the coastlines. The continents are still moving. Australia has collided with Asia, pushing up a huge mountain range. Antarctica has moved north, warming up and supporting a huge, lush forest. Part of Africa has split off and become fused to the tip of Asia. These two land masses have created a vast inland sea in the area that was once the Bay of Bengal. The colliding tectonic plates have thrown up a volcanic mountain range along the line of fusion, cutting this inland sea off from the oceans to the south. The Bay of Bengal is now enclosed, cut off from the open sea by the arrival of Mozambique and Madagascar moving east. What were the Himalayas are eroded to low hills. Water run-off from the mountains has washed fertile sediment into the landlocked sea, making it shallower and rich in nutrients. The sea is a vast, brackish swamp. The water is thick and impenetrable to light. Average temperatures are 40oC. Humidity is 99% all the year round. These greenhouse conditions are ideal for plant growth. Crowded trees and other plants stabilise the mud with their network of roots.

-Anctartic Forest:

Antarctica has been pulled north by a subduction zone at the bottom of the Indian ocean and now lies partially in the tropics. Instead of snow, ice and penguins, there is now dense tropical rainforest. This rainforest has evolved from whatever plant species made it to the isolated continent first. Similarly, the animals there have radiated to fill all the available niches have evolved from relatively few ancestors, as reaching this virgin continent was so difficult. The lichens and, mosses and algae that lived in the Antarctic in the human era have evolved and developed. Seeds and spores from other parts of the world have been carried to the Antarctic. New species have been developed by adaptive radiation. Antarctica lies in the tropics, with trade winds bringing warm rain all the year round. The winds bring seeds and spores from South America. Spiders and insects have been carried there as 'aerial plankton'. Birds follow them, staying for the seeds, fruits and insects. The forests are temperate and wet.

-Shallow Seas:

Vast tracts of Russia are under water. Shallow seas spread across Northern Europe and Asia, with rocky islands - mountain peaks not yet covered by water. The seas are rich in nutrients and in bright sunlight, ideal conditions for reefs to form. The calcareous skeletons of reef organisms make a solid foundation colonised by more reef plants and animals. The corals are extinct. The reefs are built by red algae; they photosynthesise vigorously in the light. The red algae offer browsing reef animals a protein meal; and in eating this, the animal carries away the algae's sticky spores.

200 Million Years into the Future: Edit

  • World's Geography:

Future is Wild World 3

After the last great mass extinction, just a few life forms had survived, and free from old pressures and competition, they have evolved into strange and bizarre creatures - beyond imagination. The slow drift of the continents over the globe has finally brought the landmasses together into one super-continent, and most of the world is covered in a huge ocean.

-Central Desert:

There is now one large supercontinent, "Pangea II", the bulk of which is north of the equator. The centre of this continent is a huge extreme desert, with no rainfall to speak of. A single world ocean has a major effect on weather patterns. Water travels westward around the equator, being warmed by the Sun as it does. In today's world there are continents in the way of this equatorial current, that deflect it to the north or south before it has chance to get too warm. The Central Desert is a wilderness of sand and gravel, without clouds or rainfall. At night, this desert is as cold as the Earth has ever been. Beneath it, there is a labyrinth of limestone caves. Constant rain on the seaward slopes soaks into the rocks and accumulates in the caves. Average temperatures range from over 50oC in the summer to -30oC in the winter. The only water is from subterranean springs.

-Rainshadow Desert:

The rotation of the Earth has slowed, adding an hour to the day - now 25 hours. The sun is brighter, and temperatures have risen. Heating the ocean leads to frequent and very strong hurricanes. The sea is whipped up by these frequent hypercanes. But the resulting rain does not travel far inland. It falls on a coastal mountain range. The Rainshadow Desert is close to the huge peaks of this volcanic mountain range. The moisture rich clouds crossing the Earth rise over the mountains, losing water as they go and starving the land behind of moisture. The hypercanes provide high humidity; they also supply food in the form of sea creatures whipped from the surface waters and dumped in the desert.

-Northern Forests

Along latitudes about 30 to 60 degrees north, the prevailing winds are westerlies that bring huge amounts of rain to the northwest coast of the continent. This creates extensive, lush areas of temperate forest, something similar to the rainforest of northwest USA but much, much more extensive. Constant rain from saturated onshore winds, frequent westerly storms and little sunshine causes rain to fall relentlessly on the north-western region of Pangaea ll. The conditions are warm and humid with an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide. These hothouse conditions, ideal for plant growth, have led to a vigorous forest, teeming with life. The continuous torrential rain has made great rivers, lakes and swamps. The tallest trees are conifers, growing to the same height as the redwoods that have dominated the region since the Triassic. Flowering plants are rare in the forest; only lichens - symbiotic associations between algae and fungi - grow everywhere. In the moisture of the forest, they have grown to tree size. The low level of the forest is a tangle of lichen trees. Their trailing feathery structures absorb moisture and photosynthesise. Their spores, bursting from sacs as animals brush by, are easily distributed.

-Global Ocean:

The land masses have all amalgamated, forming a single continent. 225 million years before mankind, the supercontinent was called Pangaea; and this new land mass is Pangaea ll. North and South America have joined the other continents. A single global ocean surrounds Pangaea ll. A single landmass like this creates a world of extreme climates. The Earth has now one ocean, circulating one massive continent. The ocean is so massive that from space some views would show the earth as pure blue orb of ocean. The single sea - the Global Ocean - has a huge anticlockwise current circulating around the southern hemisphere. Life can migrate easily in this powerful current. Because of this powerful current, there is little water movement between north and south. As a result, there is a steep temperature gradient between high and low latitudes. The single ocean supports complex food chains and highly-evolved species. A mass extinction has affected life on land and in the seas. Clouds of ash and an increase in acidity killed the plankton in the surface water. The ocean food chain collapsed. Many bony fish died out. Their place was taken by surviving creatures from the deep.

Creatures from The Future is Wild: Edit

Main Article: Creatures from The Future is Wild