what it looks like. just crazy ideas with no real directions, this is a start point. feel free to add in your 2 cents.
If investing heavily into gigantism was viable, I would invest into it in order to get a head start against the AI, since more surface area in the cell stage means more consumption.
i agree, human player’s ability to strategize is unfair.
Unless you are going to talk about the physiological size limits this thread belongs in #future-game
oh thats a good idea, how big can something get? to start i’d say structural limitations need to be ascertained, followed by ecological and finally coming up with an evolutionary reason to get that large, hopefully followed by a discussion of parasite parasite parasite parasites.
i can’t really think of any reasonable structural limits other than surface area, which is fixable, so can anyone else think of anything?
TLDR : planned evolution is still evolution.
I disagree, human ability to plan does not pose any unfairness in the game.
As, you are still bound by the rules of nature. Your strategy is just one possibility in the tree of evolution.
Even if you created the best species, they still are part of evolution tree.
Let me give few examples…
The organism that found a way to harness the power of sun? Was it a strategic move?
The organism that learnt to use oxygen to improve the energy output? Was it a strategic move?
Where they planned?, Of course not.
If you say that humans have a vast knowledge and hence are unfair to dumb AI of that stage.
Then those who said earth was round 400 years ago, got burnt to death. And by this i want to say, a cell with the knowledge of metallurgy is still limited by it’s environment.
Evolution does not have a plan, and even if it did. It would still be in the realm of random mutation.
In terms of game, while you plan to make the best species , you will still face competition.
Just like homo sapiens, homo erectus, homo habilus etc.
Your species will branch off and become your smart competitor.
but can evolution plan ahead? if one planed to be bipedal and use live birth you would design our hips different, and you would make our eyes without blind spots, and so on.
Eyes without blind spot is a possibility. Octopus has this ability.
Humans don’t, as the ancestor who evolved eyes went with the blind spot architecture of eye.
Now to compensate this, it evolved more neurons to do post processing of the image we see. Hence filling the gap.
And to some extent , this filling the gap capability is also responsible for better “thinking power”.
So, a blind spot that can eventually pave the way of intelligent thinking, sounds like a plan move,
but we know it’s not.
The disadvantage we had, lead to improvement in other areas, which otherwise be unnecessary.
And a realistic thrive game will also limit you to such perquisites. I believe.
i suppose, but humans do still have an advantage, an end goal.
End goal is the same for all. To thrive.
Or more colloquial way.
Eat , excrete, reproduce. ( It doesn’t even care about happiness , god should send another update. )
no, the player attempts to advance to the next stage, but one can thrive as a microbe or sponge.
You just explained what happened to the organism which learnt to harness the power of sun.
They didn’t stay floating in sea, they went to land and became trees. Way before any land animal came.
So did plants plan this, I don’t think so?
Did they also then evolved the ability to provide juicy fruits for the Newly arrived land animal to help them (tress) spread around more easily? Was it planned. I don’t think so?
Did the lure humans into agriculture to make sure their species survive ?
I don’t think so.
By this, i only want to convey that a planned evolution will still be a valid evolution branch.
Oh definitely planed evolutionary strategies are the same as those used in nature and for a reason, but there is no doubt in my mind that when it comes to long term survival the player will outcompete any one lineage, though the AI/nature as a whole is more imaginative.
Question, are we looking to cover crazy (but realistic) megafauna, or is this closer to megafauna (aka mulitcellular and up) gameplay? Cause I have ideas, but would rather know this is actually where I should be posting it.
It’s anything pertaining to megafauna, and by that I mean relatively large in comparison to it’s contempories, and nektonic, benthic, terrestrial, or avian.
Okay, some thoughts on realistic megafauna: There are (that I am aware of) two major impediments to a creatures size: the square cube law and energy availability.
While the square cube law is the bane of everyone’s existence, meaning everything from the venting of heat (too big of a creature and the heat it produces will cook it without measures taken, too small and you freeze) to the skeletal structure (big things need extremely strong bones) are penalized the farther you go from some calculated (or maybe arbitrary) middle ground. Not much of a problem at first, but it scales from there rather quickly.
Energy, however, is just as important. This, of course, refers to the amount of food you can get (thus why nessie is not overly likely despite the numerous sightings, any given environment only has so much available). This also, however, includes your efficiency and rate of output - Cambrian insects are a great example of this. The earth back then didn’t have a whole lot more usable energy input from the sun than it does now, bu those bugs were still massive because of the prevalence of the other side of the equation, oxygen availability. Having to put in far less energy to create the same amount allowed them to massively increase in size without issue, leading to gigantism, and in some cases an upper limit enforced by the square cube law and the inherent issues with an exoskeleton vs endoskeleton.
And while the square cube law can be sidestepped by using stronger materials (normally more energy intensive to produce) or more aggressive methods of thermal regulation (normally an increase in energy requirements as well) one of the easiest ways to allow a novel megafauna is to have either a more efficient/plentiful fuel or reactant for the creature.
So, let’s see if we can figure out some energy source more robust than carbon/oxygen combustion to create energy, shall we?
I feel like dragon resembling creatures may be able to exist on planets with LOW gravity…way lower than earths for sure, because organisms could be MASSIVE on low grav planets.
Well when it comes to flying critters size is a balence between gravity and air density. The more air and the less gravity the larger on gets, but the sucky thing is that the volume of breathable atmosphere decreases with planet size. Therefore the bigger you can get the harder it is to fly and vice versa. Though this comes with a caviat. Quetzalcoatlus. The largest flying animal that ever lived, quetzuls were as tall as a graffe and could still fly, and what’s more they were predatory.
While I take some time off finding some form of viable alternative power source besides just dumping oxygen into a creature’s environment to allow in easier energy production, (chemistry sucks and I can’t believe I’m willing touching non-quantum chemistry again) let me regurgitate some facts on why dragons were, actually, possible, all thanks to what we know of Quetz.
@Deathwake Quetz and it’s close member species followed a similar method of flight to the modern albatross or vulture (from what we can tell from bio-mechanics of the skeletons we do have) - you avoid doing most of the work via thermals. Rising air means those massive, kite like wings which are terrible if you have to flap for any long period of time (due to expended energy) given a truly massive lifting surface. Using this, you can travel long distances with a relatively low energy expenditure, so long as you don’t mind a… slower and meandering flight path as you hit up every rising air column you can.
Condors are a good example, despite being obligate scavengers as opposed to quetz’s possible incidental scavenging. Andean Condors are some of the heaviest extant flying animals (there are swans and pelicans that sit up there as well) and fly using thermals when at all possible when covering the large distances needed to find the carcasses they usually feed off of, as well as some of the largest wingspans (both in wing length and breadth).
Quetz, however, is thought to be be predatory, which is often the thought for dragons. While the article just gets into the basics, Wired’s Quetz article has a collection of more recent thoughts on the quetz, including that it was in large part a terrestrial hunter, as opposed to an aerial one. This, interestingly, matches up with proportions of wyvern’s and the traditional European hexopods, an animal that is primarily adapted to actual predation on the ground, mainly using flight as a method of transport.
Think the difference between, say, a chicken or turkey hunting something and an owl or eagle. Eagle’s and owls rely on flight to hit their prey, either taking it out in one shot or dragging it into the sky to be dropped, depending on the relative weights. A chicken or turkey, who are, by the way, opportunistic hunters, (beware any animal smaller than them that a chicken can catch, it gets shredded) does the primary portion of the actual hunting on the ground, using beak to disable and wings to corral before getting claws in to shred the target. While this doesn’t work against most predators that can get in and deal lethal damage due to the relative frailty of the actual animal, scaled up this would likely have ended up being how a large animal like a quetz would fight - picking out smaller targets to drop in on, take out on the ground, then taking off when the first sign of something that could cause harm actually appeared.
This leads to dragons being an interesting hybrid ambusher - gliding at high altitude like many eagles in search of prey item, before swooping in from a blind spot to hit a smaller target and bear it down, then disabling the prey item while on the ground, fending off smaller scavengers while avoiding larger ones. From there, it would rinse and repeat - the primary energy sink during daytime would be actually getting off the ground again, as once you’re in the air thermals mean you don’t have to use those energy intensive down strokes very much. They would also, like hawks, tend toward diurnal (midday) rather than crepuscular (morning/evening) hunters, when thermals would be strongest. Granted, this also means prey would tend towards avoiding the open spaces such a large predator would frequent, hiding from the sun’s rays, meaning them may be more an evening hunter? Still thermals, even if weaker, and prey out in the open, but they’d also be more alert since not resting… Hmmmm. Probably see different niches based on the time of day, likely. The larger the animal, the less it would benefit from cover, so you’d probably see larger midday hunters aiming for the prey that can’t hide and is currently trying to avoid spending energy, one with a massive wingspan (hello avatar giant orange dragon) while smaller, lighter ones with less of an issue with powered flight (of a sort) would be adapted to those later evening and early night thermals, hunting smaller, more crepuscular prey items.
@Nigel Your best bet for this is, interestingly enough, tied to the fact that lower mass planets also have more variant terrain - allowing such biomes as stratosphere scraping mountains (I’m looking at you, mars) as well as massive chasms in the crust. As your biggest issue (for atmosphere, anyway) is that a smaller planet holds less at a given height, your best bet is to descend deeper - lower down in said chasms would have a more dense atmosphere. Looking at mars once again, the Valles Marineris (Mars’s 7km deep, 4000km long grand canyon) would be a prototype for such an environment. Anything adapted to that environment would be a glider, likely, as apposed to a primarily powered flyer - much easier to latch onto a wall if there aren’t any wind currents to ride (similar to adaptations you would see in boreal environs). The lovely bit about massive canyons such as that is you get more or less regular thermals (both rising and falling) due to the joys of canyon walls. So an apex predator, capable of short distance powered flight and longer distance gliding, while still retaining terrestrial locomotion (whether this would be only to the extent seen in bats, which are far less manuverable on land, or something more like sugar gliders, who use it as a transport method is variable.
There is an argument to be made for larger planets (of a sort) - more atmosphere means more complex weather systems, and thus more chances for an animal to evolve that spends most of it’s time flying. Take a look at the albatross - it spends most of it’s time airborne riding winds and thermals. While earth does not have the energy density to support a flyer larger than them, not given there isn’t enough oxygen for them to pull easily, a planet up to some theoretical upper limit I am nowhere near enough of an expert to take a crack at with enough energy density could support massive flyers that, while mostly wing, could still support weights that would, frankly, asphyxiate &/or crash land on earth. Especially since denser atmosphere means more oxygen per liter of air, so more power. (Seriously, anyone have any idea where to even start of the multiple curves you would need to balance to figure this out?)
Seriously, alternative power sources for chemistry as we know it are hard. While there are some interesting looks at other biochemistries at there, I keep coming back to the fact that carbon and oxygen are both relatively stable once bonds are created (as opposed to the lathanids and alkalines, basically anything far left or right that’s not a noble gas) while still reasonable to crack. So, thanks to the joys of quantum chemistry: in general, the more shells you have, the less tightly electron orbitals are defined, and the lower the bond energy; the higher order the bond type s->p->d the less tight and thus the lower the bond energy. Also, the rarer the element. Metals gain and loose electrons (depending on the specific metal) all the time, it’s one of the properties that make them metals, which makes them less useful. Lathanids and alkalines will either chuck or steal an electron at the first opportunity, making them too reactive for possible energy storage.
So, as far as I can find, lawk is carbon/oxygen based because the elements are easy to find, energetically reactive with the right catalysts while still being stable enough to react when not needed. Which means I have to start looking at other forms of energy sourcing (from figuring out how much efficiency could possibly be pulled out of the reduction reactions we already have, to finding how much energy radioactive decay would actually produce in comparison, all the way out to possible stellar plasma based entities because why not).
i love this, awesome analyses. i do think that that is a great hunting strategy for some dragons, but what about semiaquatic bronze dragons and arboreal green dragons? the green dragons for one would be smaller, by far, say a 10 foot wingspan, and would hunt like a harpy, though their large wingspan would restrict them to hunting certain critters at certain places. the bronze dragons would hunt like albatross and the coppers like vultures, all in all i wish we had dragons.