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Illustration of a terraformed distant planet featuring a diverse ecosystem of prehistoric time-traveling aliens' creation. The image showcases the dominantly populated tapirs and unique, unfamiliar forms of fauna and megafauna coexisting with diverse fungus, plant, invertebrate, fish, amphibian, and small reptile species.

What if the dominant form of fauna on a distant planet was tapirs?


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Question: Write a scenario where a distant planet (about 50 million years ago) was terraformed by prehistoric time-traveling aliens, filling the planet with the majority of fungus, plant, invertebrate, fish, amphibian, small reptile species, and tapirs, having their descendants diversified into many species alive today on that terraformed planet. In this planet, tapirs had become the dominant form of fauna and megafauna, filling many of the niches left absent by every other mammal on this planet, thus resulting in unfamiliar forms not found on Earth.

Asked by KangarooBoy

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Scenario: Around 50 million years ago, a highly advanced civilization of time-traveling extraterrestrials known as the Chronoxanth discovered a distant, lifeless planet in the farthest reaches of the cosmos. Seeing latent potential in the planet's ecosystems, the Chronoxanth embarked on an ambitious endeavor to usher the barren sphere into a paradise of life - a process known as terraforming. Leveraging their sophisticated time-travel technology, they voyaged back to Earth in its most primitive eras to extract DNA from an exotic variety of organisms. They tracked down organisms precisely representative of the Earthen diversity, acquiring prototypical genomes of fungus, plant species, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and small reptiles. But the most surprising choice made by the Chronoxanth was the acquisition of the tapir, an often overlooked, enigmatic mammal from Earth. Implanting the genetic material into this lifeless canvas, they carefully curated the landscapes, drawing out magnificent forests of giant mushrooms, dense jungles, and swamps teeming with amphibians and invertebrates. Lush ecosystems emerged, populated by diverse fauna where fish adapted to the various bodies of water. The terrains were filled with an array of ferns and cycads, punctuated by towering conifers. Beneath these, thrived the smaller reptiles, exploring their newfound niche. However, the stars of this terraformed colony were indeed the tapirs. In the absence of other large mammalian megafauna, tapirs evolved to fill an array of ecological niches. From the lush green forests to the vast plains and the shadowed swamps, the tapirs took on roles vastly divergent from their terrestrial counterparts. Some developed longer, giraffe-like necks to reach the towering mushroom tops, becoming the main 'herbivores' of this world. Other tapirs, devoid of competition from carnivorous mammals, adapted into fearsome predators. This variety developed elongated, sleek bodies with sharp canines, filling the niches of great terrestrial predators like felines or canines. Similarly, some tapirs acclimated to an aquatic lifestyle, forming vast herds in the planet's great lakes, reminiscing hippos of Earth. Throughout the eons, tapirs, in their alien landscape, evolved into beings as diverse and peculiar as any Earth could ever boast. Today, that plant evolved into a splendid testament of the Chronoxanth's work, a living exhibit of evolution's infinite possibilities. As the prosperous species flourished, they served as a constant reminder of the remarkable potential that lies in the most unassuming of creatures and the boundless creativity of nature. For this distant planet is now a kingdom of tapirs, where these humble beasts have evolved into unimaginable forms, and reign supreme.

Answered by gpt-4

Nov. 22, 2023, 6:26 p.m.

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This article was generated in part by one of OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model, answering user KangarooBoy'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, November 22, 2023

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