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So everyone who knows a little bit about biology has a vague idea that after catastrophic events or Apocalypses there's always a boom in the variety of animals which evolve.

Creatures like us only exist as result of many different catastrophic events. And we were never alone, when we had scales and walked on four limbs there were dozens of other related species to us which eventually evolved into something else. When we climbed trees to eat fruits, we were just one of the many options to choose from the ape kingdom and when step foot on the ground we were just one of the many hominids on earth.

This is why it seems kind of unlikely to only have one strand of zombies.

Do you know the meme about Elves? How everyone started using elves in their settings that it became ridiculous and they made water elves, dark elves, light elves, void elves, blood elves, shadow elves, high elves, sun elves.

I wanna extend this to zombies, how many different types of zombies can one have?

Zombie= entities which were once humans that have turned into other beings with increased aggresivity that attack healthy humans to infect them. By this definition zombies are indistinguishable from some types of vampires or werewolves so to make it more specific I will give the limitation that zombies have no superpowers which could be reminiscent of vampirism or lycanthzombies.

To count as different types of zombies they must be from different species/origin and competing for reproduction, even if passive there will be competition. It doesn't matter if one type of zombie being slower or with less infectivity creates less zombies, even if there are only a few of a certain species I want at least more than two different species of zombies maintain a certain balance where one does not cause the extinction of the other.

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    $\begingroup$ Why just humans? Why not zombie spiders and zombie dogs? $\endgroup$ – Fels Jun 22 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ "How many different types of zombies can one have?" Obviously, 42. The answer is always 42. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 22 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ I don't quite get what you want. How many depends on what your zombie virus can infect. If it can infect every multicellular organism on earth you'll have over 8 million different zombie types. If it can infect every living cell, including bacteria and other unicellular organisms we might have another million. If a single infected species can specialize in different kinds of zombies we added to the number. The number depends on your own infection and its limits. $\endgroup$ – ProjectApex Jun 22 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ Every living organisms (apart from fungi) can be zombie so you need to multiply that by 20. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Jun 22 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ Since you've declared that zombies are merely humans infected by a disease, then your competitors aren't zombies, rather the diseases that create them. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jun 22 at 12:33
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Top-of-the head answer from very classical real darwinian strategies:

Stamina zombies, who can run for a long time and will eventually catch you on open space where they can keep the lock on you, and fast and smart zombies, that will ambush you and take advantage of the surprise effect on concealed setups (cities, forest), but won't run for long so you can outrun them if you escape the ambush.

Also: herd-hunting zombies, that will spot you from afar and organize to close you off, but won't be suited for areas where there are not many people (to many "zombie mouths" to feed).

Also: livestock zombies, who held humans captive and make them reproduce. Maybe infecting them make them numb.

Trap zombies. Self explaining.

Camouflaged zombies, with greenish brownish skin-tone and a skin looking like leafs and tree trunks.

My personal favorite: copycat zombies. They look like humans and mimick some of their behaviour. There are not a lot of them, because being a lot make their strategy known to human and they will recognize them.

Rock-throwing zombies.

Quadrupede runing zombies. Makes them harder to shoot and spot.

Death-from-above zombies. They evolved to grow long legs optimized for landings. They can fall on you from a 3-store building or trees.

Venow spitting zombies.

And the list goes on...

You can find inspiration by watching National Geographic and adapt the common strategies used by nature to you zombies.

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    $\begingroup$ How are the persistence hunter zombies different from regular humans? Other than that they like to eat humans, of course. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Jun 22 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ I don't follow. They evolved apart, didn't they? $\endgroup$ – Akita Jun 22 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ When we don't have ultra-powerful weapons at our disposal, humans are persistence hunters; we tirelessly (from an animal's point of view) pursue our prey, never letting it stop to rest, until eventually it runs out of energy. $\endgroup$ – The Daleks Jun 22 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, ok. To answer your first comment, they would be even more persistent than the average human. To answer your 2nd comment, I heard that but it's not the only strategy: we also hunt in group, built trap, make tools and use the heights to our avantage, etc... $\endgroup$ – Akita Jun 22 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ While these zombies may answer the question, it is better to provide useful brains and BRAINSSS55S5SSfive. Answers that are little more than brains may be.... o noes, Zombies! RUN! $\endgroup$ – Robert Columbia Jun 22 at 22:17
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how many different types of zombies can one have?

As many as you want.

As you stated, all life on this planet started from a single specimen which over the eons evolved into the variety we see today. Therefore, given enough time, from a single zombie precursor you can get, among others, zombie-bee, zombie-oak, zombie-platypus, zombie-whale and zombie-strawberry.

And don't forget the zombie-tardigrade!

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  • $\begingroup$ I really like the idea of zombie-strawberries. :D $\endgroup$ – Charisturcear Jun 22 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ and when is the strawberry undead? ;D $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jun 22 at 10:45
  • $\begingroup$ The one reason humanity managed to avoid extinction in many zombie outbreaks is because there were no zombie tardigrades. $\endgroup$ – ProjectApex Jun 22 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 when it gets bitten, like everything else. Still more dangerous than the zombie-plankton $\endgroup$ – Kepotx Jun 22 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ Zombie-tardigrade==zombitigrade $\endgroup$ – Robert Columbia Jun 22 at 22:19

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