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I thought of a brood parasite that co-existed with humans and has evolved to mimic humans and to infiltrate human families as a brood parasite -- similar to a cuckoo birds -- as adopted children who are placed by this species in adoption centers or dropped of at front doors as babies.

Its lifecycle: After infiltrating a family, it would eat as much food as its fake human parents can get, and this species is sapient and intelligent so they would learn their parents' language and mimic what they do to help integrate itself into human society. Also, in another thing similar, to the cuckoo bird, it will try to kill off any siblings and un-necessary family members through (accidents supposedly) to prevent any food and attention heading for other people. After it reaches adulthood and its fake human parents becoming a liability, it would collect as much food and abandon them and survive off foraging, hunting, you name it and repeats the cycle.

Is this species plausible or not and if not why?

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    $\begingroup$ If this parasite looks like a human, and is intelligent enough to pass for one, it is basically a (somewhat psychopathic perhaps) human. Foraging and hunting is a lot harder than buying food in a grocery store. Especially if you've never hunted before adulthood. So at the point of reaching adulthood the parasite may just as well get a job, make money, and be able to have more food than it would ever need. That's what a lot of humans do, too. It may even figure that it is not competing for food with family members, so killing them off does not result in having more food. $\endgroup$
    – void_ptr
    Aug 10, 2020 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't that like the premise of Parasyte? $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 11, 2020 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ You've more or less described changelings. These are human children swapped for inhuman ones. Usually faery but in some cases it might the changeling might be demonic in origin, for example. The changeling lore itself comes from Europe but similar myths can be observed in many places in the world in different variations but overall similar premise. The myth was used in order to justify children behaving bad, therefore the substitute child is ascribed malevolence or at least non-conformance to "good" behaviour. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Aug 12, 2020 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ You don't even need it to be human-like. Just look at dogs. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Feb 22 at 9:00

3 Answers 3

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No.

Intelligence is a highly energy intensive trait, and it is wasting most of it. Why would it head off for a life of foraging and hunting when it could instead live in human society and get its food far easier? Most animals in the wild devote most of their energy to getting food. (For one thing, they can't have it cooked in the wild. Cooking greatly increases the ease of absorbing nutrition.)

Mimicking human behavior well enough to not be institutionalized as a child would make living in society much easier than living in the wild. Then, why would its foster family be liabilities and not assets as they are for human beings? Especially since too many accidents are likely to have the cuckoo child institutionalized as psychotic.

Gorging on food will also have the cuckoo child morbidly obese, bringing down a lot of medical attention.

Finally, nowadays the child would have to pass as human in the face of intensive medical investigation while they ensured that being abandoned had not harmed the child. This is implausible.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe it gets dumber as it gets older. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 11, 2020 at 1:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also, the prospect of evolving over the short span during which humans have had institutions for getting children without (obvious) parents into homes is ludicrous. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Feb 22 at 21:20
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This is a frame challenge.


Homo sapiens corporativa

Also know as Bastard CEO, Pathological Liar From Finances, Career Politician, Corrupt Religious Figurehead or WEB3 Innovator

Not to be confused with the (exremelly rare) and more honest Homo sapiens industrius or the equally deranged but less subtle Homo sapiens serialkillerus.

Homo sapies corporativa is a subspecies of Homo sapiens that engages in extremelly complex parasitic behavior. It's intended host isn't a single individual or a family - instead, it parasites the species as a whole, using of trickery, manipulation, charisma and financial power to steal resources from large groups of individuals by forcing them into underpaid jobs, engaging in predatoy market practices that ruins the economy for everyone but themselves, evading taxes, and lobbying in favor of lawmaking that favors themselves in detriment of the population at large.

The corporativa begins its life cycle as a regular Homo sapiens, and develops in a similar manner until adulthood. At some point during its adulthood, it will attempt to find its way into the top of the corporate ladder by any means necessary - by bribes, lies, manipulation, or other forms of behavior that pushes it towards control of a large amount of money. Once thus set, the corporativa will drain every bit of resources it can from its host business and the society as a whole, while taking care to not make such abuse obvious for onlookers.

It will search for people with actual talent to employ, give them underpaid jobs and work them hard until they're burned out. Once those people aren't useful anymore, they'll be fired with minimal benefits, and replaced by someone else, while taking credit for any sucess obtained by the now disposed employee as if it was provided by the corporativa's own skill and mastery.

The corporativa can appear so charismatic that it has an almost entrancing charm to it, but make no mistake - all of this is a ruse, so it can get access to its favorite prey - other people's wallets.

Their plans and schemes are often complex and convoluted, which make them hard to spot. They keep themselves distanced and speak in nothing but pleasantries and corporate-speak when talking to others, since if they try to engage in honest conversation about any topic of relevance their ruse will be exposed - as they lack any actual skill or talent besides parasiting others.

At one point it was believed that another parasitic subspecies of human, Homo sapies coachiatus, was actually the same species as Homo sapies corporativa, but recent genetic testing showed that the two are not actually the same - the coachiatus, despite similar behavior and parasitic traits as the corporativa, is a more invasive but less sucessful species that tries to emulate corporativa behavior but fails to do so at the same extent.


Humans are already very good at parasiting humans. Make a subspecies of human that is specially geared to do so, and you're set.

(It might even exist already. Who knows?)

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It would be a lot easier, if the requirement for basically emulating human emotions could be waived. Maybe make it something ugly and disgusting, that is only beautiful and full of potential in the heads of the "infected", which regularly get dosed by the parasite.

Or even add a natural resistance of children to the drug/mind-fungi that keeps the parents befuddled? And sometimes, the effect breaks (for example when you see the abomination you are breast-feeding) in a mirror or shiny silver-ware, which is why it tries to get humans to get rid of some civilizational artifact.

Its final act is to destroy the evidence, as the victims would otherwise build up cultural resistance. It sets fire to the hut, killing all the evidence remaining. The start could be just a fake pregnancy to explain its existence away to the wider audience.

It also would have to defend its home from other parasites, propably by inducing rage against the competitor.

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