Wednesday, May 4

JAMES CAGNEY HAD IT RIGHT: "YOU DIRTY RATS!"



The Book of Psalms taught us that "the meek shall inherit the earth," but maybe it was James Cagney who had it right all along: YOU DIRTY RATS!

Think I'm joshing you? Well, then, just read this.

In Ward's world, described in his book "Future Evolution," humans don't die off, but Earth as we know it sure has changed. "You've got to assume that humans are going to continue and at high population numbers," he tells MSNBC.com.

If that's the case, he says, then animals will have to evolve to thrive in two dominant environments — cities, where the masses live, and tracts of cropland cultivated to feed those masses.

Gone will be the vast grasslands that gave rise to large mammals. "I bet we'll never see a large animal species ever again," Ward says. "Give it a million years," he says, and lions, tigers and bears might all be gone.

Temperature swings over time in this world will favor species that can adapt relatively quickly, and animals will have to be able to survive in polluted air and water. A perfect world for rodents, snakes, cockroaches and foraging birds like crows.

Ward believes rats and snakes belong in the category known as "supertaxa," groups of organisms that create many new species while having a relatively low extinction rate.