Do you hate rats? If so, you're not going to like what Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz, a University of Leicester paleobiologist, has to say about the future of Earth. This week, Dr. Zalasiewicz reported on the heartiness—and ambitiousness—of rats, explaining how our rapidly changing planet is soon going to be filled with gigantic, super-evolved rodents. And, like most things that go wrong around here, it's all our fault.
As we humans directly or indirectly contribute to the extinction of other species, voids are left in the world's emptying ecospace. Nature abhors a vacuum, though, and rats are the perfect species to fill those gaps. They've survived in just about every environment they've ever been introduced to—riding humans' coattails, usually—and have proven incredibly hard to eradicate. In fact, in some cases, rats are the reason other species are dying off.