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TLDR: Is it possible, and if yes how can they be as deadly as possible, to have modern day megafauna that prey upon humans at least moderately often without humans wiping them out?

Evil Genius #637 has developed an ingenious gene sequencing device. Likely building upon the handwaving of the Jurassic Park scientists, he now has the capability to create his own animals. These animals still need to be able to eat, survive, procreate, etc, so there are a variety of biological necessities he can't just ignore, but he can build whatever type of animal with whichever special abilities he desires regarding speed, camouflage, stealth, what have you. He is disappointed with the way that humans have historically eliminated or greatly reduced animals that preyed upon them, and wishes to watch some "exciting" hunts.

His goal: to develop a species of large animals that can successfully prey on humans without being wiped out. No "mosquitoes are technically the deadliest animal" will do for this maniac, he wants to build large (at least 200 pound) critters and watch them hunt and eat humans. He can place them in whatever region of the world will be most effective, so long as there is a decently large population of humans for them to hunt.

Is it possible for our villain to come up with carnivorous megafauna that will be able to avoid being wiped out by humans for at least ten years, while entertaining him with their hunts? He can create up to ten thousand of the creatures.

Note: please avoid answers such as "an African Lion in the right place will do plenty of damage," because come on. We can design any predator we want, let's not be lazy with our villainy.

Bonus points if you can give me (I mean our hypothetical villain) a location to release our animals where they will be able to survive for a while and hunt humans so I can sit back and enjoy the show.

This is not a repeat of the question asking about an "Ultimate Predator" from 2016, that question wants to know how an animal can best hunt other animals. I need an animal (a large one) that can hunt humans successfully as a main part of their diet without being immediately exterminated.

Edit at the request of JBH: looking for an animal that can terrorize an area the size of Louisiana, in the 21st century. The ratio of people to critter is up to the answerer, as it can be placed anywhere in the world. I am open to answers that include an animal with a strangely high level of sapience.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello Jimothy! Just to set your expectations. Humans have survived everything from dinosaurs to house cats. It's difficult (if not impossible) for a non-sapient predator of any size to overcome a sapient prey of any size because the sapient prey can always build a bigger, better mouse trap. Realistically, the sapient species is always the ultimate predator. Which suggests the only plausible solution is the megafauna you're looking for is at least as sapient as its prey. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 27 '20 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH also, this could be taking place in some remote region where technology may not be incredibly high, so long as there is abundant prey. $\endgroup$ – Jimothy Nov 27 '20 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, please. Add both those details. Also, if it would be appropriate to indicate a terrestrial time frame that would reflect the population and technology of the Louisiana-sized area in question, that would also help. E.G., "My predators are attacking in an area the size of Louisiana and with a population and tech level like Louisiana in 1924." Finally, give us a ratio of fauna-vs-people (e.g., 1 creature for every 10,000 humans or some such). Remember, the lower that ratio, the less likely the beast can survive. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 27 '20 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH We definitely have NOT survived house cats. They have us trained to clean out their poop after they go. The cats have won. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second Nov 27 '20 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ The bandersnatchi from the Known Space books have a deal with humans: we're allowed to hunt them, and we can't complain when the human hunters die 60% of the time. larryniven.fandom.com/wiki/Bandersnatch $\endgroup$ – Shawn V. Wilson Nov 27 '20 at 18:49

24 Answers 24

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People mention humans, but isn't the main deadly feature of humans (along with their non-conspicuous appearance) their intelligence?

You need an intelligent animal that is good at hiding.

Imagine what damage you could do if you really set your mind to it, and trained to do it. Now imagine that you look like a monster, but are stronger and faster than a human. It's a bit harder, but shouldn't be impossible.

My first thought is a large sapient snake. They can not only tug their bodies away into small spaces, but they can also go a long time between meals. Venomous or constrictor? Both.

Imagine a not-totally-urban area, maybe the outskirts of a small town. You're an anaconda like snake, 10 meters long, resting under an abandoned car where you have been digesting your last kill for a week. Tonight it's time to hunt again.

You struck your last victim coming up from the sewers, so the humans have been looking for you there. In a few weeks or so the sewers might be safe again, but tonight it's time to pay a visit to the trailer park by the creek. There are a few roads to cross along the way, but all have small passages under them for rainwater which should be large enough. At least before eating.

Today is Friday and the weather's nice, and there will be people out, most likely having a few beers. The plan is to hide near a path by the creek and wait. If someone is walking home around midnight, or go there to have a piss, you will eat. You can't fully understand what humans are saying, though you can pick up words, and you cannot speak, but since you are engineered to be deadly you can mimic human noises well. "Fussing baby" is the most effective, but you don't want to overuse it; IF your victim should survive you don't want to have people learn what to avoid. "Crying woman", "puppy" and "vibrating cell" are good too.

Afterwards you could comfortably swim down the creek for a quarter mile or so and then slid up into the nearby forest where ever the ground is firm enough not to leave easy-to-follow tracks. If you want to lay low for a while there's always the cattle ranges; there are even those where it's easy to slip under the fence, grab a sheep or small cow, and be gone without anyone noticing until they count their animals.


A second thought: Kraken!

Humans use boats and go out to deep waters. They do this to fish and transport stuff. Imagine how easy it would be for a large squid with 12 meter tentacles to sink a small boat, or just grab people and pull them down! Being so large, they probably need to eat other things as well, but there might be a neat balance here: If people start avoiding the sea, pretty soon fish will grow larger, and small whales and seals will become more numerous. This might make this scenario slightly less infeasible.

EDIT: Having thought a bit more along the marine mollusk track, a truly giant octopus is probably better. Octopi are already very clever, and can survive for short periods on land. If they were motivated to kill people, I think they would be hard to stop, as you wouldn't be safe anywhere too close to the sea.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the best answer so far, as it actually addresses the question without making them basically humans, or just an animal that already exists. $\endgroup$ – Jimothy Nov 27 '20 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Jimothy Glad you liked it! Just out of curiosity, do you prefer the snake or the squid? It would be good to know in case I'll find myself thinking about other monsters or about developing one of them further. $\endgroup$ – EdvinW Nov 27 '20 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ I personally prefer the snake, it seems more difficult to avoid. $\endgroup$ – Jimothy Nov 28 '20 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ I truly believe the sapient squid exists already. It's been documented since antiquity - duckduckgo.com/… $\endgroup$ – Kingsley Nov 30 '20 at 3:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Kingsley Real world giant squids are exclusively deep water creatures and can't actually survive close enough to the surface to attack a ship, but their carcasses sometimes wash up on beaches which could have certainly inspired the mythos. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Nov 30 '20 at 14:59
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No

Megafauna are big and are such, not a threat to us. Sure you can make them tough but we have jet fighters, attack helicopters, cruise missiles and 50 cal sniper rifles with depleted uranium bullets that can headshot someone at two miles. All else fails, we have thermonuclear weapons that can level a city.

enter image description here

A threat to man needs to be smaller, not bigger. The smaller and more numerous something is, the bigger threat it poses.

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    $\begingroup$ But there’s no dramatic flair in making super-AIDS or Airborne Ebola. $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Nov 27 '20 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper yu forget Outbreak (1995) - which is all about the latter... $\endgroup$ – Trish Nov 27 '20 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ @DTCooper have you heard of zombie movies, that's like half their thing $\endgroup$ – Topcode Nov 27 '20 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this premise, much that I love the idea of sapient land mega-octopuses. $\endgroup$ – Konchog Dec 2 '20 at 22:11
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Ummm, make a human substitute? They hide among us, because they LOOK like us?

Create a human-like animal that has superior strength, stamina, and intellience than humans, but is not our genetic secies.

Think in terms of the aliens in X-files. They were so hard to eliminate because they looked identical to us, and could walk freely among us.

Our most advanced weapons would not be effective because they could also use them against us. Anything we can do, they could do, only far, far better and faster.

The credible scenario is that we would have to wipe out all of the humans, in order to be sure we had destroyed all of them. That would be the ultimate, wouldn't it? We wipe out ourselves to destroy our competition?

Of course, the final scene would be that there is still one more of them left, hiding among whatever few survivors of us there are, after the final climax and all-or-nothing battle scene, when the remaining humans think they are safe.

EDIT

Additionally, give them a hive mind, a collective mentality. They all think as one. Killing just one has no meaning to them. Like cells on our body, each individual is expendable. The intelligence is in the collective.

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    $\begingroup$ There is lne suspect among us... $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Nov 27 '20 at 3:35
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, very plausible. Serial killers and murderers are kinda human predators, in a way; Yet it takes an incredible amount of effort to chase some of them down even though they're like us, ability-wise. And the area they are known is very wide, so... $\endgroup$ – Tortliena Nov 27 '20 at 11:24
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but where is the "megafauna" in your answer? $\endgroup$ – Mindwin Nov 27 '20 at 15:12
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    $\begingroup$ I gotta say it: Justin is sus. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 27 '20 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ Superior strength, stamina, and intelligence would necessitate physical differences. Even if these differences are hard to see with the naked eye, humans could quickly adapt with biometric verification. I may not be able to tell a vampire with my naked eye, but if one walks past an ultrasound/thermal scanner, the differences in their musculature, skeletons, metabolics, biofeedback time, etc would be apparent with automated computer analysis. So, yes they could blend in well enough in rural places that may not be able to afford this, but most places would drive them out fairly quickly. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Nov 27 '20 at 21:18
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Crocodiles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocodile_attack#:~:text=It%20has%20been%20estimated%20that,killed%20by%20crocodilians%20each%20year.

It has been estimated that about 1,000 people are killed by crocodilians each year.1 The two species with the most well-known and documented reputation for preying on humans are the Nile crocodile and saltwater crocodile, and these are the perpetrators of the vast majority of both fatal and non-fatal crocodilian attacks.1 Each year, hundreds of deadly attacks are attributed to the Nile crocodile in Sub-Saharan Africa. Attacks by saltwater crocodiles often occur in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Reviews indicate that at least half of all attacks by the Nile and saltwater crocodiles are fatal1

So there you go. Megafauna that eat humans exist and they eat plenty of humans every year. Maybe your evil doer can get his jollies off of plain old crocodiles doing what they do.

It is the big ones that do the people eating, people being big, and so if he needs to create something to make it work for him, he could create really big crocodiles. With spikes. That talk. The crocodiles, not the spikes. Ok the spikes too.

croc with spiikes

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    $\begingroup$ Oh, for the love of heaven. The predator exists because it doesn't kill enough humans every year (or is intrinsically valuable enough) to be worth exterminating. I'm not entirely sure that's what the OP was looking for, but +1 for pointing out a simple reality! (And who doesn't like talking spikes?) $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 27 '20 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ This is true and clever, but also simultaneously unhelpful in the extreme haha. Thank you for the answer though. $\endgroup$ – Jimothy Nov 27 '20 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ Hahahahaha! HAH-hahahahaha! That's wonderful! It's the worst possible kind of psychopathic crocodiles... the victims can hear the voices, too! (I'm especially fond of the democracy among spikes. Remember, every vote counts!) $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 27 '20 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Jimmy Is it unhelpful? A creature that can hide in the water and crawl out onto land when it wants to eat people seems like a good start. A t-rex could easily be found and machine-gunned to death, but an intelligent saltwater crocodile would be much more challenging target. $\endgroup$ – user3153372 Nov 27 '20 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ Intelligence is going to be very important here. While gators and crocodiles are really hard to hunt, they are very easy to trap. Human trappers nearly hunted alligators to extinction in the US, and that was just because we liked their leather (having nothing to do with feeling threatened by them). For gators to survive a concentrated effort to exterminate them, they will need to be able to recognize and avoid traps. Improved vision smell might help with this too. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Nov 27 '20 at 22:38
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Giant Amphibious Starfish

enter image description here

Okay, I know this sounds like a joke, but starfish physiology makes them one of the most terrifying megafauna to try to face with human weapons. 99% of human weapons are all about either penetrating vital organs or dismembering an opponent to the point of death. Starfish however have no vital organs to shoot through and if you cut one in half, it will not die, both halves will just regenerate giving you two starfish to worry about instead of 1. Hit one with a flamethrower, but don't successfully kill enough tissue, then the dead bits just attrophe off and new starfish body parts grow in to replace them. Blow one up, and you might have a dozen new starfish grow up from the remains. Bassically, they are Deadpool, if all of his parts formed new Deadpools every time he got ripped apart.

The way humans kill starfish in real life normally involves locking them in a box and waiting for them to die of dehydration... or eating them. But if your killer starfish are over 200 lbs and able to overpower and eat humans in hand to hand situations, then boxing them becomes very dangerous in its own right.

Features to Consider

It is important to use the RIGHT starfish regeneration as a template. Many starfish can only regenerate if a section of the central disc is still attached, but some starfish like the linckia diplax do not need part of the central disc. They use nutrients stored in the severed arm to generate a new disc for eating, and from there they can regrow the rest of their body.

One of the down sides of starfish is that they "bleed out" very easily on land, and take up to 10 months to regenerate a severed limb. So, their regeneration genetics should be combined with that of an Axolotl or Newt. These animals are able to contract their vascular system shut very quickly around major wounds preventing bleedout. They can also regenerate much faster. Axolotls can regrow a missing limb in as little as 40 days.

The reason I suggest a giant starfish as opposed to a giant lizard is that lizards can only regenerate lost limbs. I single hit center mass will be just as lethal to them as to any other animal, but against a starfish that can contract its wounds shut, you are looking at something much harder to stop with bullets.

You could further improve this giant starfishs' asexual reproduction rate by making it toxic. In some cases, predators might be able to scavenge the fragments of an exploded starfish before they can regenerate, but if they are covered in toxic stingers like the crown of thorns starfish, then scavengers would quickly learn to avoid those chunks of starfish matter left behind by artillery bombardment.

On top of all of these abilities, it's up to your imagination as to how you want them to hunt humans. Maybe they are clever enough to sneak into our homes at night and attack us in our beds, maybe they are ambush hunters and hide places waiting for someone to wonder too close, or maybe they are unnaturally fast and can just emerge from the nearby wetlands to chase people down and overpower them. etc.

Distribution

Evil Genius #637 evenly distributes a seed population of a few thousand killer starfish across the area he wants them to infest, very quickly people will start trying to shoot them which will not work so well and those people will get eaten; so, then we will resort to blowing them up. This will seem very effective at first so we will blow up lots of them. Then very quickly we will go from having thousands of them to 10s of thousands if not hundreds of thousands before we realize we are actually making the problem worse. Because killing a starfish is so different than killing a bird or mammal, we will eventually have to come up with and mass produce a new kind of weapon for fighting them. Poison dart guns would seem most effective, but starfish have thick, bony, calcified skin which could render any existing dart guns ineffective. And most poisons take several seconds or longer before they start to diabilite; so, you might still shoot one get your head ripped off, and then it dies. So, we'd have to make newer stronger dart weapons than we've ever had to mass produce before and develop tactics for surviving long enough to not get overrun while you wait for it to take effect.

Eventually we will devise enough good weapons and tactics to wage a proper war on them, but starfish can also go into the water where we can not see them. This means that even after we become adept at responding to them with military lethality, wiping them out entirely is not really an option unless you plan to poison the water supply of an entire state... and with it everywhere that the water will eventually run off to.

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    $\begingroup$ Blowing them up might multiply them, but then they would just be cripples the size of mice or house cats. Prime targets to be taken advantage of by the local wildlife, who will eat them. $\endgroup$ – Muuski Nov 27 '20 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Muuski, not necessarily. Human oyster divers ran into this problem a lot in the 20th century where the divers realized that starfish would eat their oysters; so, they would cut them up to try to kill them. This lead to huge booms in starfish populations that would wipe out oyster beds that were once in equilibrium; so, yes, some of the bits may get eaten, but history tells us that dismembering them causes their populations to grow out of control, not dwindle. That said, the starfish could be made toxic, to improve their chances of regeneration before being eaten. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Nov 27 '20 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Since this is an evil scientist making it, the starfish smells tasty, but has some resistance against getting digested too quickly, and a poison that kills but not too fast such that the small scavenger wanders off to curl up and die some place, making a little nest egg for itself. Also give it webbing so it it can both swim and fly, and the eyes of a scallop so it can adaptively change to match its surroundings like a octopus. Can't see them can't shoot them. $\endgroup$ – Quaternion Nov 27 '20 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ Starfish can generate but it takes a very long time and only works if the have more than one arm (so they can eat). No matter how good their regeneration they still need raw material to replace missing mass. Also starfish die really easy on land if you punch even small holes in them, becasue their circulatory system is open (they use seawater for blood), punch one small hole and ALL their body fluids drain out. So killing them will be fairly easy. they are essentially one big vital organ vulnerable to penetration. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 28 '20 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ @John No reason that wouldn't be changed by the evil genius; square cube law would probably necessitate some pretty major changes either way. $\endgroup$ – Redwolf Programs Nov 29 '20 at 20:38
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"...with some fava beans and a nice chianti"

As noted, humans are really good at hunting down anything that they regard as a threat. Many humans also hunt for enjoyment or food, with a relatively rare subset hunting (and more rarely eating) other humans.

Predatory humans are difficult to deal with, because it is so hard to differentiate them from other humans in the population they live in. Modern society has dealt with this threat by forming specialist units within law enforcement agencies to hunt the hunters. Therefore, what Evil Genius #637 needs is:

  • gene sequencing and/or conditioning to build a group of 200+ lb humans (or creatures externally indistinguishable from humans) who are physically attractive, addicted to human meat (except the brains), sociopathic yet obedient to EG #637
  • training for the psychopaths in surveillance, combat techniques for subduing other humans and cooking
  • provision of secure, private bases of operations in widely separated locations
  • provision of solid identity and employment documentation
  • hacking / communications jamming support as required to prevent pesky targets calling for help

At this point, Evil Genius can sit back and watch the show. If the psycho creatures are trained properly then the large majority of their kills will go undetected as murders. Thanks to mass media, only a tiny percentage of their kills need to be identified as being murders for the relevant area to be "terrorised" as specified by the OP. (Although the bodies should never be found - any human remains not eaten and all personal effects of the victims must be incinerated or otherwise permanently disposed of.) Serial killers with far less resources and no support have gone much longer than 10 years without being caught, so there are good odds of the 10 year requirement being met.

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    $\begingroup$ does human considered as megafauna? $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Nov 27 '20 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ @LiJun Well, in the least, it's Psychofauna :P $\endgroup$ – Trish Nov 27 '20 at 9:05
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Doggies!

Make your creature a dog. A totally ordinary, looks-and-smells-and-barks like a regular dog. A biggish one, of course. We want it visually indistinguishable from normal pooches. Something like this friendly Mastiff, weighing in at 310lbs: enter image description here

Who would suspect a cutesy-wutesy puppy-wuppy? Who's a good doggy? For extra benefit, have it wear a support animal's livery.

enter image description here

Now give it a human-class brain, and some tactical training. And some real cunning killer instinct.

. . If the OP is willing to put aside the "big animal" requirement,
consider this modest proposal:
A pack of medium dogs would be more effective. Something cute and loveable, like a Collie or a Setter. The sort of dog that is very often a support animal, a blind guide, a drug sniffer. The "good guys".

A pack of innocent-seeming dogs, operating with human intelligence, selecting their targets as if they(the dogs) are skilled serial killers.
Taking care to only attack solitary targets.
Disposing of the bodies(what remains after mealtimes) down storm drains and in garbage dumps.
It would take a LONG time for the humans to clue up to this.

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    $\begingroup$ Large dogs and aggressive breeds of dogs are banned in many places, I'd imagine within a short while that people would start killing large dogs on sight, but I can see this being very effective if only for a short while. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Nov 27 '20 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Only reason I'm showing a Mastiff is because the OP want a big animal. Personally, I think a pack of medium dogs would be more effective. Something cute and loveable, like a Collie or a Setter. A pack of innocent-seeming dogs, operating with human intelligence, selecting their targets as if they(the dogs) are skilled serial killers... It would take a LONG time for the humans to clue up to this. $\endgroup$ – PcMan Nov 27 '20 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ If the goal was to kill humans, I would agree. A dog could feed a baby a choking hazard, and no one would be the wiser, but the second these dogs start eating people we'd catch on pretty quick. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Nov 27 '20 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ There are people who's job it is to work in those storm drains, they will find the bodies eventually and when the coroner notices that this body has canine tooth marks, and matches the size of them against common dog breeds then your pack of dogs will have the same problem every serial killer has: hiding. And it's a lot easier to be inconspicuous as a human than as a dog living in a city paranoid about the killer dogs the news keeps going on about. $\endgroup$ – Muuski Nov 27 '20 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ ...Am I the only one who was distracted from the entire suggestion when they accidentally noticed the first dog was a bit too excited when they took it's picture?...no just me? Okay then moving on... :P ;) $\endgroup$ – dsollen Dec 9 '20 at 0:40
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Carrots and Sticks

The problem is that anything sufficiently dangerous will eventually be hunted to extinction simply because by NOT doing it then we will have an existential crisis. So you have to create a creature that is either not worth the trouble or SO worth the trouble that its not worth the trouble anymore...

Examples

Carrots: Your creature is worth more alive than the number of people that it might possibly kill in the 10 year timeframe. According to the CDC site over 500k people die a year due to various cancers, a cure embedded in the DNA of your creature that can only be extracted while the beast is alive and wild (perhaps something else they eat in their native environment) would mean that no matter how many people they hunted, they would be protected by all possible measures due to how precious a commodity they would be alive. Similarly if they secreted a drug in their saliva that caused unbounded euphoria for a short period of time and if this drug was safe and non-addictive but only was possible due to the living creature hunting human prey...

Sticks: Embed in the creature's molecular structure a substance that, upon their death, releases a noxious plague into the air. This substance would specifically target human physiology and would be incredibly deadly. The death of a single creature would result in 100,000x the number of human casualties. The cost of hunting each creature would be far outweighed in the human suffering that would occur upon their deaths. They would be avoided and shunned but not hunted and the creatures would be free to roam free in whatever habitat they chose.

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  • $\begingroup$ The drug thing wouldn't work; we'd just sequence its genome and analyse the drug, working from both ends until we had a process (probably involving genetically-modified e-coli) to synthesise the drug. The cancer thing might work. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Nov 28 '20 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ It's not so easy to go from genes to a cure. In fact it can take decades. As Dr. Evil, I'd give my critters blisters that burst on death and release respirable aerosol full of the pathogen of the day (I regularly issue upgrades, of course). $\endgroup$ – toolforger Nov 29 '20 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @wizzwizz4 The cancer thing wouldn't work either. Somebody with a high powered rifle would organize a purge, and cancer cure be 🤬ed. $\endgroup$ – Michael Dec 8 '20 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ I think this works better if also combined with other suggestions made, to create a creature that's good enough at camouflaging that it's not easy to find to kill, and then also give people limit motivation to kill it in the first place. Though the second suggestion of a mass plague doesn't strike me as realistic. If it's a biological chemical the creature couldn't produce/store enough and if it's biological then once one was killed and the plague released everyone it wouldn't stop so no reason not to kill the rest after. I like the cancer idea though. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Dec 9 '20 at 0:55
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What has to be true.

  1. They have to be bulletproof humans with guns are just too good of a killer, if a human with a rifle can kill them they won't stand a chance, humans where ever they are released will kill them.

  2. they need to be amphibious. They need able to hide, humans can use fire and bombs to kill ALL of them otherwise. With current technology that means they have to be able to live in the ocean, the ocean is the only place something large can hide from humans. But they can't be fully aquatic because then humans can just avoid them. Ideally they should be able to breath air and saltwater.

  3. They need to be released somewhere that that is already at war or that suffered an natural disaster, so confusion and lack of communication can keep them secret (or at least delay response) long enough for them to disperse. Ideally you would have multiple release points. Because once society as whole knows about them they don't stand a chance the bulk of them will be eliminated in short order.

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    $\begingroup$ This is very close to what I was going to answer. Any place not industrialized, with concealment and rural conditions. Don't make a big government want to kill them (Civilized places don't care if backwater peoples die). Possibly make the predators look like an extinct species, so environmentalists will prevent an international extermination effort. They need to be stealthy, possibly intelligent. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Nov 27 '20 at 6:08
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    $\begingroup$ The "bulletproof" requirement is unrealistic. Being resistant to small arms fire would only slow humans by a year or so, until we make enough of the type of weapon which is effective. We already have portable weapons that can bring down far tougher targets like tanks or airplanes. $\endgroup$ – dbkk Nov 27 '20 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @dbkk I just talking about them surviving long enough to spread, so they need to be resistant to the weapons police, national guard, and citizens in said country will have on hand. they will never stand an chance against a purposeful military deployment. That is why they need to be able to disperse and hide. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 28 '20 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ If we have to have the creature fit the bonds of realistic biology 'bullet proof' isn't really viable option. You could create something like a rhino that small arms don't work very well against (though enough bullets will still kill one), but that just means humans will bring out slightly bigger guns. Not to mention the creatures that are quasi resistant to small arms do it by being so large that humans wouldn't be a sufficient energy source and they would be very easily found, hunted, and killed. Being able to hide seems far more practical then trying to survive human attacks if found. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Dec 9 '20 at 0:59
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Lizard People!

Why is Humanity an Apex Predator? Because they are extremely good at adapting to everything, and we do that with tools. There's a mammoth? Make a tool to kill, then skin, then cook and turn it into clothes. There's an enemy tribe? Make a tool to kill them. There's a storm? Make a tool to weather it out. Humans are resilient because they are smart.

An Apex predator that hunts humans needs to be just as smart or smarter. It might even pass for human. That's what Lizard People do: they infiltrate humanity, they disguise as humans, and breed humans as their ultimate prey species. We are the Xenomorph, created by the Lizard men, we just don't know our creators! Dr Evil simply encountered them, and they are training him!

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    $\begingroup$ We permitted Evil Genius #637 but you and the upvoters are too close. A pity, because you could have been useful. This comment will self-destruct as soon as the cleansing operation is complete. $\endgroup$ – NL_Derek Nov 27 '20 at 22:23
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No "mosquitoes are technically the deadliest animal" will do for this maniac, he wants to build large (at least 200 pound) critters and watch them hunt and eat humans.

200 lbs. humans

I am quite sure that right after mosquitoes, the animals that kill the most humans per year are other humans.

I found this article in Our World in Data. Only two animals are causing human deaths there and we are second with over 400,000 deaths per year. We're just efficient like that. No other animals appear in the list.

Since you don't want mosquitoes and humans over 200 pounds are a thing, all you need to fulfill your requirements is some fat cannibals with guns. You can even be sneaky about it: make sure carb rich diets are addictive, accessible, cheap and promoted in media, while also ensuring that angsty men always have easy access to automatic rifles for no good reason and your goal already almost achieves itself on its own. As a last step use your subjects' favorite media to convince them that they should eat human meat and watch all the damage that'll do.

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  • $\begingroup$ So, Evil Genius #637 is an alias for Dr. Hanibal Lecter? Or is he the preacher of a Canibal Cult? $\endgroup$ – Trish Nov 28 '20 at 11:24
  • $\begingroup$ @trish I never watched Hanibal's movie or series but he doesn't strike me as a proselystic guy. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Nov 28 '20 at 13:17
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I got an idea! Or at least I think I do.

It's also a pretty iconic one, so i think you will know it.

enter image description here

It's a Sandworm from Dune. I imagine if these guys were dropped in Northern Africa or the Middle East or really any places with a sandy desert things could get tricky for the inhabitants. Give them some additional upgrades such as removing their weakness for water and they should be able to disrupt the world's oil flow for a while as oil drilling extraction sites and refineries become death traps and cause a new refugee crisis.

Now whilst people would find ways to deal with them, I do think these things should at least last 10 years. Especially since whilst the big ones like on the picture would be able to threaten cities, they would probably get hit with a missile sooner or later; the smaller ones though should remain a threat for land travel for much longer.

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    $\begingroup$ Sandworms couldn't exist in real life due to a multitude of biological reasons. There are already whole questions dedicated to explaining why they wouldn't work: quora.com/… $\endgroup$ – dsollen Dec 9 '20 at 1:01
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You want something that is large, practically invincible, intelligent, and has extreme offensive capabilities.

My recommendation is Wurms. They are giant serpent-like dragons with nigh-impenetrable scales, breath weaponry, intelligence, and potentially burrowing capabilities.

With their subterranean nature and their armored scales, they would be nearly impossible to kill, not to mention they take out buildings by creating tunnels underneath them, destroying their structural integrity and causing them to collapse.

Also with their varied breath weapons, they can "pop out" of the ground and destroy vehicles and troops quite easily, and then burrow back underground again.

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You don't need to resurrect an extinct creature. We already have a large carnivorous animal that actively hunts humans... polar bears. Furthermore, with global warming, humans are spreading further north, while the hungry polar bears are finding their hunting grounds on the ice increasingly inaccessible, and are instead taking to the land further south.

All Evil Genius #637 has to do is breed 10,000 polar bears and release them; then just sit back and watch.

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  • $\begingroup$ We don't even know the old word for bear: bear comes from brown. Arktos from greek terrible. Ursus is likewise something similar... So Ursus Arctos Terribilis (grizley) is triple terrible! $\endgroup$ – Trish Nov 29 '20 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish Well, Latin "ursus" is just "bear", I don't know Greek but Wikipedia tells me that "Arktos" is old Greed for "Bear". Nothing about "terrible" in either word, except in the bear of course. $\endgroup$ – toolforger Nov 29 '20 at 14:46
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Sustainability

Most of these answers, whilst deadly, have little to allow for any level of sustainability. A big rampaging monster is all well and good, until it runs out of people to eat and starves, leaving the rest of the territory unattacked; or gets discovered and is hunted down, however many you have, you cannot really protect them from guns/bombs. Not even if they are really stealthy. So you need something that can make up for the inevitable losses. Something like :

Werewolves

Instead of making a new creature wholesale, make a way to convert some existing ones. A disease that turns humans aggressive (ideally with some growth for good measure) allows for a steady supply of new monsters. Add in infect through serveral vectors (airborne, waterborne and bloodborne, as well as surfaces touched and the classic bite), and a long enough incubation period for the disease to spread beyond geographic boundaries, and the whole world will be plagued by monsters.

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Terrestrial Octopus/Cephalapods. They have several natural super-power like abilities: shapeshifting (they can change the color/texture and shape of their bodies in very intricate ways), Regeneration, dispersed neural systems (up to 2/3 of their cognition is contained in ganglia in their tentacles), multiples hearts, AND they're some of the most intelligent, problem solving animals on the planet. They also have thick cloudy ink (some inks can paralyze upon ingestion I think) and travel by jet. They never stop growing larger, if they have the food they need. They do all of this without any parental support and most only live for a year. There are theories that their lives end after mating because if they didn't they would grow to be massive and dominate their ecosystems so completely that there would be no food left. So imagine, what an encultured, educated, massive, shapeshifting octopus (and his friends) that lives on land could do to sneak around, kill/eat people, and shrug off massive damage (again, regeneration, primary organs have many backups). Many also have some sort of venom! Really the only things holding these animals back in the wild is their automatic deaths after mating (a trait which your evil genius could remove) and their lack of sociability with other octopus (again, a trait your genius could add in). Their stealth could be upgraded by having your scientist give them better (non-colorblind) eyes allowing the octopi to better see (and hence blend into) their environment, or he could upgrade their/cuttlefish's ability to hypnotize prey by giving them some really flashy bioluminescence that would absolutely stun humans on a giant massive charging octopus on land. They combine the stealth, chemical, tank, and intelligence advantages needed and I think that would make them unstoppable.

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My first thought was also a dog-looking predator, exceptional intelligence (the level of intelligence up to your scenario), with a ruff around its neck that resembles a collar at a distance. I see that I'm not the first to have the idea of canines or canine-like predators. Make their bite poisonous, or so they can otherwise near-instantly kill, or disable their prey (optional), some sort of armor or damage resistance (limited regeneration?) is nice (but also optional), etc., etc.

Here is the innovation, no one seems to have realized that Location is more important than the predator itself: set them loose in Delhi or Hyderabad, India, the slums around Rio de Janeiro, the Kibera and Mahare areas of Nairobi in Kenya, Orangi Town, Karachi, Pakistan, Ciudad Neza, Mexico City, etc. There are literally BILLIONS of people that very few would miss, and none with any power to get something done, and some elements of the police, military, and governments would tacitly or even overtly, appreciate it.

I read a book called 'Planet Slum' I think, a long time ago, pretty horrific. Or watch some Indian movies. As an example, when the book was written (10+ years ago?) Rio had I think 7 million people living in the outlying slums. I mean 1 water spigot per 1000 people, and if you had a wood, sett metal lean-to you were high-styling it.

And that is for a modern-day scenario. Even setting it 50 years ago, would make it even more deadly, let alone 100s or thousands of years.

ChrisP

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 29 '20 at 23:33
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A sadistic self-driving car

This is not really fauna, but it blends right into society where there are lots of vehicles. Plenty of people already die in hit-and-run incidents all the time. If some of them disappeared entirely, that wouldn't be too surprising.

If you try really hard to make it a "living" car (i.e. "fauna") the concept is less realistic. But if all you want is a nominal number of human deaths and possibly a way for the predator to derive some sustenance from the victims, this is totally feasible.

If you want to go further, you could make a predatory Uber that sometimes kills its passengers.

After writing this, I remembered Dæmon by Daniel Suarez. So there is prior art. For the Uber, the best approximation is the Sherlock Holmes story with the hansom cab driver.

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Sharks or pterodactyls

To prey on humans your fauna needs:

  • To sneak up on humans
  • Take them away very quickly
  • Consume out of reach of humans trying to avenge.
  • Live in an area humans have difficulties accessing.

Sharks sneaking up and pulling swimmers below the waves - tick. Especially if you give them a super jump strong enough to pull fishermen off a jetty.

Pterodactyls snatching pedestrians in the suburbs and eating them in the mountaintops - tick. Especially if they glide in silently and abduct children on the way home from school.

enter image description here

Crocodiles are a close contender, they have the fast surprise pounce, but they don't go far enough away to eat - so they're often vulnerable to angry mobs avenging death.

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  • $\begingroup$ The pterosaurs idea is cute, but there's no way they could last ten years. If you even started a minimally credible rumor that pterosaurs even existed (let alone ate people), rich excited hunters would camp out for ages to bag one. Gators and sharks are a decent play if they only eat people that the affluent don't care about. $\endgroup$ – Michael Dec 8 '20 at 22:11
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A gigantic flatworm, malleable enough to squeeze through cracks and drains while still being big enough to classify as megafauna. Perhaps it enters its host and quickly eats it from the inside out, each host allowing it to reproduce, creating exponentially more of them while the human population continues to decrease. Flatworms are pretty much impervious to physical damage although the scientist should probably add to its durability so that it can survive things like extreme temperatures and radiation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, it is supposed to be around 200 lbs+, and that just doesn't work with a flatworm. $\endgroup$ – Salami-tsunami Dec 1 '20 at 14:43
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Simple: Don't make it too large. Otherwise, it'd be like eating ants that have weapons that can kill you, and vehicles that can easily outrun you. And humans aren't that nutritious to begin with. The human body contains 125-144 thousand calories, and there's Kleiber's Law to put into equation. If we assume an activity level that can be estimated via Kleiber's Law with a human, then we can find the mass of the creature, assuming that it needs 1 human/day.

134500=2000*(m/70)^.75

67.25=(m/70)^.75

m/70=273.5

m=19.1 tonnes

That's surprisingly small, but it easily exceeds the weight needed. If we assume that it's an apex predator that's got 3 tiers below it, then we can estimate how much territory just one needs. It would need 563 MJ/day, which equates to a power of 6.51 kW. As the solar flux is about 1360 W/m^2 for Earth, and each rung on the food chain is only 10% efficient, one individual would need 4.79*10^4 m^2 of territory to survive. Louisiana has an area of 134265000000 m^2, so it would take 2.8 million of those beasts to claim Louisiana as their territory. But that's not all. We need a way to actually pose a threat to humans. Maybe a bite strength similar to the extinct Dunkelosteus, which had the highest bite strength of any creature. And that bite came down hard and fast.

One of those buck-toothed sea monsters could chew up a person like taffy (if they didn't go extinct millions of years before humans evolved). Maybe, an suit of natural armour similar to the Ankylosaur, which had bulletproof hide. Being bulletproof would really do it favours, and that monster could bite right through weaker walls and doors, before chewing up its victim. And maybe it's capable of a high-speed sprint, so you can't drive away. And give them the intelligence to work together, like blocking off all exits from a building while coming in to devour its prey. Or if you think you're safe hiding in a skyscraper, maybe those armoured beasts could keep charging into its foundations until it crumbles, then they'd evacuate themselves out of harm's way, and dig through the rubble.

Oh, and maybe they could spit out a sticky substance that prevents prey from moving, for them to store food away for later. And developed noses so you can't hide from them. And make them good swimmers, as well as having a fast reproduction time, so a depleted population will replenish, and they have the possibility of spreading globally, and take relatively short periods of time to adapt to new climates.

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Nine tailed saber toothed foxes would be the best choice. The rest would be obviously spotted and killed. Wham. But nine-tailed saber toothed foxes can turn into people, so no one would suspect it. So our evil genius#637 breeds twelve million nine-tailed, man-eating saber-toothed foxes and unleash them on Earth, starting in China because China is the most populated country. No one would suspect them because they can turn into people. Evil genius#637 will train these foxes positively so this way they will only listen to him. Now all Evil Genius#637 has to do is sit back and watch his foxes run amok.

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A Parasite plant.

A plant could release spores into the air that humans then breathe in. Once inside, the plant uses that human for resource gathering for a period of time before it uses the host to reproduce making a new plant when humans bury the dead, you could make the spores invisible to modern science. This is where it could really bad, the host keeps their intelligence but becomes paranoid and becomes violent, dragging victims closer to the plant. If they are someone with authority then I could see whole church groups get infected. If the plant is underground then it could stretch for miles, infect food, water supplies, use whole graveyards to make even more.

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Would humans quickly exterminate man-eating predators?

Actually there have been megafauna which preyed on humans at least occasionally for hundreds of thousands of years.

Some of the species which once occasionally preyed on humans have become extinct over the millennia, and some not. And of the species which preyed on humans and became extinct, it is not always certain that humans were responsible for their extinction. And in cases where humans drove to extinction species which sometimes preyed on humans, it is not known if that occasional preying on humans was the main reason why humans caused their extinction.

Humans who settled in an area and destroyed the natural habitat to make it better for humans could have caused an ecological collapse which led to the extinction of the normal prey animals of large predator species, and thus eventually the extinction of the predators themselves, humans not being a good enough substitute for their natural prey.

There is little evidence of the causes which led to the extinction in prehistoric eras of predators which occasionally preyed on humans. Thus there is no proof that humans exterminated some of those species, nor any proof That the motive for human extermination of those species was to prevent them from occasionally preying on humans.

Of course early men only had spears, bows, and arrows to kill large predators which occasionally preyed on humans. In historic times, and especially in the modern era, humans have had a lot of deadly weapons to slaughter dangerous animals with.

But is it true that in modern times humans always react to occasional attacks on humans, and predation on humans, by exterminating those predators?

A few people are killed by American alligators every year, and some are eaten. Thus American alligators do occasionally prey on humans. And there was a time when American alligators were hunted almost to extinction and became endangered. But while some people hunted American alligators because they were potentially dangerous to humans, most hunters killed and skinned alligators for their hides, which make good leather.

But American alligators have been saved from extinction. Alligator farms were formed to raise alligators from eggs and kill and skin them when they reached the size which had the best skin. And American alligators were put on the endangered species list and it became illegal to hunt them. In recent decades the numbers of alligators have multiplied, and thus the frequency in which they attack, injure, or kill people has also multiplied.

And so far as I know there is no great public demand to exterminate American alligators to prevent them from ever killing any human again.

And in many poor parts of the world where weapons are not as easily available as in the rich USA, populations of people co exist with populations of other species of crocodilians, including some species which sometimes prey on humans. So I think that a few hundred people are killed every year by members of various crocodilian species around the world. And so far as I know the various occasionally man-eating species of crocodilians are not in imminent danger of being exterminated.

Among the megafauna which occasionally prey on humans, there are lions and tigers and bears, oh my, and leopards, and wolves.

And of course the numbers of those species of predators have drastically declined over the last few centuries as human populations expanded. And some of that population decline was due to humans hunting those predators because they occasionally preyed on humans, and some was due to humans hunting those predators because they often preyed on species that humans like to hunt, or preyed on domestic animals raised by humans. And a big part of the population decline of those predators was due to humans expanding their farming and grazing lands and destroying the natural habitats of those predators and their natural prey.

So it is certainly not correct that humans will immediately mobilize to exterminate any species which occasionally kills and eats humans, or that such eradication efforts are always quickly successful.

However, probably only a few hundred or a few thousand people are killed and eaten by predators each year. That isn't many considering that hundreds of millions of people live in close proximity to thousands or millions of predators which sometimes prey on humans. It is possible that is not enough slaughter to satisfy a mad scientist seeking to unleash predators upon humanity. If the mad scientist finds a way to make new and improved predators kill ten times or a hundred times as many people per year as they do now that might cause humans to fight back hard enough to exterminate those new man eaters in less than the decade specified in the original question.

That is the risk that a mad scientist seeking to unleash deadlier predators upon an unsuspecting world has to face, the risk that if predators started eating a larger number of humans, even a slightly larger number of humans, that increase might possibly enough to cause humans to make an all out effort to exterminate those "improved" man-eaters and do so in much less time than the mad scientist desires.

Hungry, hungry hippo.

What kind of man-eaters should the mad scientists design?

How about hippos which are more carnivorous than present hippos, and which are genetically altered to find human flesh tastier than any other meat?

At the present time, hippos probably kill more people than any other large African animals, merely from aggressiveness, bad temper, and territoriality. Hippos are herbivores and don't usually eat meat. But members of many herbivorous species have been known to eat meat on rare occasions, and hippos have been reported to eat meat.

Hippos which had been genetically altered to be more omnivorous, eating mostly plants but eating more meat than present day hippos, and with an special attraction to human flesh, might be seeded among regular hippos and the increase in humans they killed might not be realized to be the result of mutated man-eating hippos until the required decade was over. Thus any human effort to exterminate the man-eating hippos might not even begin until they had already been preying on humans for over a decade.

Man-eating elephants?

When I was a child I overheard something about a elephant that kept a human body or part of one in its mouth for a long time.

This could have been the circus elephant Rajah who kept a (detached) arm of his trainer Frank Fisher in his mouth for some time after killing Fisher in 1899.

Or this might have been the story about a European zoo elephant that allegedly killed and ate a woman who sneaked into its enclosure about the end of World War Two. The most authoritative version I could find indicated that she was killed "not just merely dead, but really most sincerely dead", if you get my meaning, but doesn't mention that any parts of her were eaten.

And there have been a few reports from India of rogue, man-killing, elephants seen with body parts of their victims in their mouths. This has been explained as the elephants holding limbs in their mouths as they pulled apart the bodies of their victims.

But in 2011 a elephant was killed which had killed 17 humans. According to the news stories, meat was found in her stomach, which was DNA tested to be human meat. Supposedly her rampage was the result of the death of her calf.

Elephants are very intelligent animals, perhaps as intelligent and emotionally complex as humans.

There is a story that when Emperor Caligula was killed in AD 41, his assassins cut off pieces of his flesh, and some ate those pieces. In 1343 the Count of Briene was deposed as ruler of Florence, Italy, by a mob which cut two of his followers to pieces and allegedly ate some of those pieces. Johann de Witt and his brother Cornelius were murdered by a Dutch mob in 1672, and their livers were allegedly eaten by the mob.

So if humans can sometimes become angry enough to eat pieces of their enemies, and if elephants possibly have intelligence and emotions as complex as humans, perhaps angry elephants might sometimes eat pieces of their enemies for the same reasons that angry humans might do so.

So if a mad scientist used genetic engineering to create slightly carnivorous elephants, and gave them an instinctive craving for some small part of the human body, and released them in the wild, the difference might not be noticed for a while. A number of people are killed in human-elephant conflicts over land, food, and water each year, and there are occasional elephants that become so angry at humans for various reasons that they hunt down and kill humans.

If the new man-eating elephants rip open human bodies to take small organs which they consider very tasty, but leave the rest of the bodies uneaten, people might interpret it as the usual mess that angry elephants can create while making certain that their victims are dead. Thus the existence of genetically-engineered man-eating elephants, instead of angry man-killing elephants, might not be realized and reacted to until the ten years are over.

The Saturday Night Live show used to have a gag about a land shark that would knock on people's doors, and say it was a delivery man or something, and if they opened the door would eat them.

I once read an urban legend - or more like a rural legend - from India or Nepal about a man-killing elephant that would sneak into villages at night and knock on doors, and kill anyone who opened the door. If that story is true it would be an example of an elephant being clever and lazy enough to do things the easiest way. Because most houses around the world are flimsy enough for an elephant to smash their way into if they want to go to the effort.

Coeurls?

In "Black destroyer", by A.E. van Vogt, Coeurl was an alien being of human intelligence level who looked like a gigantic black cat with tentacles coming out of his shoulders. Coeurl had the power to control electromagnetic vibrations with his body, thus making him the equivalent of a very powerful comic book superhero or supervillain. Coeurl needed phosphorus to survive, and would kill any living creature to get the phosphorus from the body.

In "Black destroyer", Coeurl was a survivor of a civilized species of his planet whose civilization had fallen. But "Black Destroyer" was included in A.E. van Vogt's novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle in a rewritten form, in which it was speculated that Coeurl might be an artificial lifeform created by the advanced biological science of the natives of the planet. The creation of a race of coeurls could backfire in obvious ways, leading to the extermination of the species which created them.

So if a mad scientist could create a species with powers like coeurls and release them on contemporary Earth, they might be invulnerable to Earth weapons and might exterminate all humans. So writing a story with a mad scientist creating and releasing predators with human intelligence and coeurl powers upon an unsuspecting world would justify the predators surviving and preying on humans for ten years and more.

However, such a story would have two problems:

  • making the coeurl's control of electromagnetic vibrations seem plausible or even possible
  • making the mad scientist's disregard for his own safety seem plausible.

If a writer can make those two aspects seem plausible, then he or she could use genetically engineered large predators with human intelligence and coeurl powers in his story.

Salt Vampires?

In the Star Trek episode "The Man Trap" the planet M-113 has ruins of an extinct civilized species. It also has a "Salt Vampire" or "M-113 creature". Salt vampires need salt and can suck salt out of the bodies of other beings, usually or always killing their victims. They also use a form of telepathy to appear like harmless or even desirable persons to their intended victims, and perhaps immobilize them with some form of hypnotic paralysis in the final stage of the approach to the victim.

The plot of "The Man Trap" has some similarity to "Black Destroyer". So I have always wondered whether the Salt Vampires were the people of the planet who had built the ruins before their civilization collapsed, as Coeurl was in "Black Destroyer", or if they were an artificial species created by the advanced biological science of the native civilization, as Coeurl might have been in The Voyage of the Space Beagle. Or maybe the Salf Vampires were created by the advanced genetic engineering of another civilization on another planet, and then beamed down to the surface of M-113 to exterminate the M-113 natives and then die out eventually from lack of salt.

So using predators with Salt Vampire powers as the predators in a story has the same problems as using predators with coeurl powers. The problem of making plausible their salt sucking abilities, and their telepathic illusion powers, and also the problem of making the mad scientist's lack of self preservation seem plausible. If a writer has answers to those problems predators with Salt Vampire powers might make good predators for such a story.

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