2
$\begingroup$

Say one day humanity has found a planet that supports life. It’s filled with luscious forest and barren deserts, and various ecosystems that resemble Earthly ones.

After a single year of researching a variety of the existing species, an unknown creature seemingly sparks out of no where and begins to utterly devour creatures non stop, leaving very little to no trace of the carcass behind, not even the bones. Scientist race to study this creature with every method and resource that they have but with the utmost caution.

In the day, the creature can be seen eating one animal then leaving for the next, however, in the night, it can be seen grazing on various plants and drinking water.

It has been concluded that at night, the creature goes through a state of uni-hemispheric sleep, meaning that the creature can have one side of its brain sleep at a time, before switching to the other side. The scientist have also concluded that a single one of these creatures can mark its territory to up to at least 50 miles wide.

Lastly, it has been recorded that after half a year of eating, it’ll go to extremely remote location to hibernate for the rest of the year.

Why would such a creature evolve to essentially never stop eating For half of an entire year?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What kind of time-between-kills are you talking about? Many predators spend an enormous amount of time finding and killing prey, but it would be amazing to have enough prey available to be in a constant state of feasting. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 24 at 6:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes. But not for long. Boris and Arkady Strugatsky had explored a similar idea in "Monday Begins on Saturday" with a "partially satisfied man" concept. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jan 24 at 18:16
7
$\begingroup$

Why would such a creature evolve to essentially never stop eating For half of an entire year?

The energetic content that the animal can extract from the food is very low, thus it has to constantly feed to get the right amount of supply.

Once I read that "eating celery costs more energy than what you get from it". Apart from the accuracy of the claim, think of something along that line: some food that gives you x+1 kJ/g and cost x kJ/g to be eaten.

To satisfy your daily need, you would have to eat a lot of it.

I think the closes example we have is panda feeding on bamboo.

|improve this answer|||||
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, keep in mind that the cost to be eaten may depend on the species. To stay with the same example, panda is in the family of carnivorans, so his body is not fitted to eat bamboo all the day. If we had been from exclusive vegetarian descent, his metabolysm wouldn't need that much bamboo. $\endgroup$ – Kepotx Jan 24 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Kepotx, good point, I made the interaction eater/food more clear $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 24 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ If it extracts very little from the food it must extract most of it, and in the question it's said it consumes everything leaving not even bones intact. $\endgroup$ – user28434 Jan 24 at 13:17
5
$\begingroup$

This sounds a lot like a grizzly bear apart from the uni-hemispheric sleep thing. Bears can eat 100,000 calories a day during the summer, so with occasional breaks for fighting, mating or sleeping, they eat continuously for months.

The larger your creature, the more it will have to eat to lay down reserves for hibernation, so anything larger than the aforementioned bears or without access to a rich food supply like the salmon runs would have to eat effectively continuously until hibernation came round again. Think pandas trying to hibernate on bamboo.

You also have the example of snowy owls feeding their young on lemmings. The male hunts continuously, 24 hours a day through the arctic summer, to get enough food for the family.


A note on territories:

A creature's territory is as big as it needs to be to find sufficient food. For a loner species the male's territory could be much larger to overlap with that of several females. You may see a field full of grizzlies, that's because there's enough food for them there without need for conflict. The same applies on the rivers of the salmon runs, you get a lot of bears in a confined space because that small space holds enough food.

A 50 mile territory implies that it's eating everything there is to eat within that space, a factor not compatible with the concept of continuous eating, as there would be too much travel time in a space that large. The bears manage it by rarely having to move more than a couple of feet to the next meal. A panda, the other continuous eater on our list, has a territory in the region of 2sqm, travel time is bad when you need to keep eating.

|improve this answer|||||
$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And there were, you know, "cave bears", bigger than polar ones, wich needed far greater calories income. Cave bear that never sleeps - this is true nightmare fuel! $\endgroup$ – ksbes Jan 24 at 8:58
1
$\begingroup$

I wasn't thinking of hibernation when I saw the question but about metamorphosis. Before turning into a butterfly the creature will go an enormous food binge to sustain itself and the transformation. Hibernation doesn't have the same energy requirement as can be seen with bears.

I have no idea if larger creatures could undergo metamorphosis. But perhaps you could turn it around: the creature used to undergo metamorphosis but the metamorphosis isn't a useful survival strategy anymore, so selective pressure and mutations have stopped the metamorphosis part. However, the creature's eating habits are still the same as its body still is in the binge-before-changing state. The creature could even waste the energy for a cocoon or building some kind of protective layer during hibernation. Then it wakes up unchanged and continues with its food binge as it still feels the pressure as if it will change.

|improve this answer|||||
$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Pregnancy an option? That during that period it feeds to be able to support the embryo? (Although this would suggest that they are female, it also opens up the possibility that there is no male/female variation in their species).

Environmental? You say the beast removes to a remote region for half a year to hibernate. Perhaps his feeding grounds become (partially) unlivable for the creature for half a year (Due to heat, cold or possibly an allergy to a local plant?) If This is the only area where prey lives (because the environment keeps the predator away) his hibernation spot would be rather devoid of fauna.

|improve this answer|||||
$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.