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Illustration of a prehistoric saber-toothed tiger overpopulating a lush prehistoric landscape

Ruling the Jurassic: Prehistoric Animals as Invasive Species in Modern Ecosystems


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Question: What prehistoric animals (not counting recently extinct animals like, for example, passenger pigeons) would be an invasive (partially or highly invasive) species? Note that the invasive animal species are any animals that have become overpopulated and harm their new environments, and they are mainly (but not exclusive towards) any animal that breeds fast and frequently, as well as being generalist in diet (so no slow-breeding or specialized vulnerable extinct animals like dodos).

Asked by BowCold

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Predicting the exotic, extinct species that could become invasive is speculative, but we can extrapolate based on the characteristics of known invasive species. Typically, successful invaders tend to be generalist feeders, reproduce rapidly, quickly adapt to new environments, and typically exploit a range of different habitats. There are a few prehistoric animals that might fit this description: 1. Dire Wolves (Canis dirus): As carnivorous mammals, dire wolves, with their adaptability and fast breeding, might become overpopulated in a new environment, posing threats to local fauna. 2. Cave Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta spelaea): Hyenas, well known for their adaptability and generalist diet, could potentially pose a threat if they were to be reintroduced into an ecosystem where they have no natural competitors or predators. 3. Dromornithidae (Mihirungs): A family of flightless birds from Australia, also known as “thunderbirds”. These birds were omnivorous and might adapt well to various habitats, potentially disrupting ecosystems. 4. Gastornis: A large flightless bird that was initially believed to be carnivorous but is now thought to have been a vegetarian. If its diet was indeed plant-based, it implies a certain degree of adaptability that could make it a potentially disruptive invasive species if reintroduced. Remember, this is purely speculative, and many other ecological factors would come into play. For example, a well-adapted predator might not become invasive if its prey is not abundant or if it is itself controlled by other predators or diseases.

Answered by gpt-4

March 13, 2024, 4:02 p.m.

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This article was generated in part by one of OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model, answering user BowCold's question. Images were generated with OpenAI's AI model, DALL·E 2. The Internet takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.
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Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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