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I had a question about a Chomping Egg and now I'm following it up with its two metamorphoses: Glutton and Savage.

A Glutton has a round body that tapers to a pointed head, an egg-shaped head with a saw-edged oral cavity (which looks like a huge mouth), and six tube-like legs that each end in a suction cup. Inside that mouth it has a long, flexible tongue to grab and pull in struggling prey. Like its previous form, the Chomper, it is covered in a calcareous shell, but its version is segmented and has a thicker, more resilient membrane underneath to enable its bouts of gluttony.

A Savage is also covered in a segmented shell, with a tough hide underneath, but its bipedal and resembles a dinosaur. It has strong jaws, a stocky frame, and stout limbs that end in sharp talons. Its tail is thick and tipped with a spiky egg-shaped club to act as a counterbalance/slash weapon.

The difference occurs because a Chomper has complex DNA that allows it to become two different things based off its environment: in environments where food is relatively easy to obtain, Chompers metamorphose into Gluttons, but if lean times require Chompers to hunt more and fight for food, then they metamorphose into Savages.

Gluttons are less intelligent because finding food when it's plentiful doesn't require a lot of intelligence. Savages, however, are more intelligent because lean times are best endured through more strategic thought, which allows an organism to more easily find food and win fights.

My question is, are these two metamorphoses feasible for my Chomper? If not, what changes need to be made to make it work?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think you know what the word evolution means. single creatures do not evolve. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 10 '20 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for pointing that out, I've just edited to change "evolution" into "metamorphosis." $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Dec 10 '20 at 17:46
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Yes.

Things that have different forms based off environmental factors are surprisingly common. The simplest example I can think of is ants, who are all nearly identical (genetically), all start off as the same egg, hatch into the same larvae, and only specialise into worker/forager/soldier/queen/doorway (yes, doorway) based on what they’re fed. This grants the colony remarkable resilience, since changing environments can be responded to simply by feeding the larvae differently.

A Portuguese Man’o’war is a jellyfish-like colony of different zooids. Though these zooids are all genetically identical they all develop into startlingly different morphs. Some are stingers. Some handle digestion. Others are responsible for breeding.

So your chomper is a larvae, or caterpillar of sorts. It can’t breed, but eats as much as it can. When it is old enough it transforms (probably in a cocoon) and does so based on the amount of food it has been able to consume. Doing so in a cocoon allows for a wide variety of physical transformations, so the stark differences between the two morphs is entirely plausible. Heck, it’s possible that it only cocoons and changes in times of stress, much like certain fungi. In that way your Gluttons are really just old Chompers, while Savages are much more mobile, like butterflies.

This is a neat adaptation that allows for maximum consumption of resources, since the more mobile Savage forms (that come from Chompers on the edge of a colony, or when the colony runs out of food) will be able to roam away from their birthplace to find new sources of food. Gluttons on the other hand save all their energy for procreation to make sure the next generation can consume as much as possible.

This leads to two interesting behaviours you might want to consider in your world. Gluttons and chompers will cluster together in large numbers wherever food is available, and Savages will periodically ‘flood’ out into the wider world when a food source is exhausted and all the chompers simultaneously morph into savages.

For a real world parallel you might want to consider Locusts. Usually locusts are solitary grasshoppers, perfectly content to live peaceful lives, but if there’s a drought something goes click, and the next time any food is available they breed incessantly, eat voraciously and will strip whole countries bare while literally darkening the skies. Your species is much the same, but instead of a ‘swarm’ appearing when food is abundant it appears when a previously abundant source of food runs out. Perhaps your world has periodic oases that appear in a desert, or megafauna that these guys scavenge from. When the food is stripped by the gluttons: out comes a wave of Savages searching for the next oasis/giant corpse.

Either way: the answer to your question is yes: plausible. Not only that, but with some cool follow up questions you might want to ask yourself!

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, your answer was very helpful! $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Dec 11 '20 at 15:52

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