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We hit a point in warfare very very long ago where no creature was truly dangerous to a modern military. But could a creature that is be made? This creature has to be able to pose a serious dangerous in a confrontation with a modern military. Not just at terrorising civilians. It can be multiple different species working together, it doesn't have to just be one creature. It doesn't need to be dangerous in an open field. Being dangerous in swamps, dense forests, urban environments, etc. It just needs to work well enough in enough different environments to have a military feel it would be worth the money for it. It shouldn't die off as soon as humans stop providing it resources. It needs to be able to somehow provide threat to tanks & have a way to hide from airpower. It only needs to be theoretically possible to create but not like the blob where it makes zero sense at all. It should be some sort of realistically sized animal. That isnt a microbe.

Would this be possible to do in a semi-realistic way?

edit: i want something to live in nature is able to cause serious pain in the assery to developed nations. It doesn't need to be able to cause collapse, just be a threat

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  • $\begingroup$ Some sort of ever adapted organization, Capable of completely changing its DNA. Evolution on overdrive. Its exact form would vary depending on the perceived threats. It's fighting a tank It's a hard exoskeleton. Maybe Some sort of acid to cut through the tanks armor. A large size and increased strength. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2021 at 3:37
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    – L.Dutch
    Aug 17, 2021 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ "We hit a point in warfare very very long ago where no creature was truly dangerous to a modern military" not really true biological warfare has always been a thing & still is // but I suspect what you want is some form of larger animal that can be deployed in enemy held territory to fill the role of some kind of irregular guerrilla infantry? // can you please specify if microbes are not what you are looking for, what size range of animal you are considering & what kind of battlefield role you want. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 17, 2021 at 14:53

7 Answers 7

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Pathogens

Create a disease organism that meets your requirements. Exactly what counts as a creature is up to you, viruses and bacteria would not count, but whether Giardia, Plasmodium or Trematodes count is a question.

How to weaponise it will be a question. If you just need area denial then just being dangerous to anyone would work. You may want to make it a bit more "sci fi" by introducing nationality / racial specificity. Another option would be to require a specific (viral?) antidote, that is available to your troops but not the enemy.

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Fairly recently, Australia declared war against an animal species. They lost.

Emus are resistant to gunfire. They are very fast. They're very smart. They are a serious threat even to a modern military.

In the days that followed, Meredith chose to move further south, where the birds were "reported to be fairly tame",[11] but there was only limited success in spite of his efforts.[2] By the fourth day of the campaign, army observers noted that "each pack seems to have its own leader now—a big black-plumed bird which stands fully six feet high and keeps watch while his mates carry out their work of destruction and warns them of our approach".[12] At one stage Meredith even went so far as to mount one of the guns on a truck, a move that proved to be ineffective, as the truck was unable to gain on the birds, and the ride was so rough that the gunner was unable to fire any shots.[2] By 8 November, six days after the first engagement, 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired.[6] The number of birds killed is uncertain: one account estimates that it was 50 birds,[6] but other accounts range from 200 to 500, the latter figure being provided by the settlers. Meredith's official report noted that his men had suffered no casualties.[2]

Summarising the culls, ornithologist Dominic Serventy commented:

The machine-gunners' dreams of point blank fire into serried masses of Emus were soon dissipated. The Emu command had evidently ordered guerrilla tactics, and its unwieldy army soon split up into innumerable small units that made use of the military equipment uneconomic. A crestfallen field force therefore withdrew from the combat area after about a month.[13]

If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world ... They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum bullets could not stop.[12]

As such, Emus or other similar birds would make a great model for a creature designed to destroy tanks.

Genetically engineer them to be a bit tougher and more bullet resistant, a bit smarter and more able to used guerilla war tactics, a bit stronger, faster breeding, and most importantly, able to drink petrol, oil and other such fuels, along with a thirst for human blood.

Then you release them into a rival country. They won't be able to stop tanks, but they will be able to stop trucks and fuel delivery. Using hit and run tactics and their great speed and intelligence they can destroy the fuel supplies of tanks and prevent tanks from being able to resupply, while picking off any humans who leave fortified compounds.

They can eat enemy crops and food supplies and generally make it very hard to prosecute any sort of war.

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    $\begingroup$ they 'lost' in as much as they gave up on their objective but I'm not sure you could have said the birds were dangerous to them when their own losses were minimal (zero wasn't it?), also only a small unit of a dozen or less men were deployed against them, actually deploy the whole army & really go to 'war' against them & it would be a different result, it was simply judged an uneconomic use of army personnel at the end of the day (was costing too much in ammunition per bird) .. but yes any sufficiently tough & fast animal if given a bit more intelligence might be used effectively as infantry. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 17, 2021 at 14:24
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Make it fast, really fast. Make it small, really small. Make there be many. Humans have never won a war against cockroaches, ants, bees, wasps or mosquitos. The cost of engagement is just too high and the only solutions are poisons/toxins.

Here in NZ we are also fighting rats, mice and possum. They can't hurt us (though they do hurt our birds), but fielding the military against thrm probably wouldn't be effective

Thus the solution is ..... the fetid rat. Infect rats with a disease and make them overly agressive (go out of their way to bite people), and make them just a touch smarter so out current traps don't work.


Human military is aimed at human-speed, human-sized targets. We can also engage things slower/bigger, but our ability to engage multiple small fast targets is on the edge of our weapons capabilities. How fast can humans swing a gun? Or if the gun is automated, how fast can humans give it targets?

Things are changing with CIWS. Systems that can engage incoming missiles have become a reality, but they are expensive to operate and probably can't engage multiple targets for extended durations.


See also: Scary Robots: https://qntm.org/robots

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Some form of aggressive and poisonous flying insects attracted by heat, think "super-mosquitoes". They fly in huge swarms and flock on humans, stinging them to death and maybe using their bodies as nests (the same way flies lay their eggs in food). As for tanks, they will swarm engine decks and clog the filters which will kill the engine over time. Have their blood/poison be acidic enough to attack steel and they will slowly but surely melt through to roof of a tank (top armor on tanks is usually pretty thin). Death by a million cuts. Larvae are able to burrow in the mud/sand/grass and lay there dormant until a prey is detected, at which point they will latch on and shortly after hatch and attack.

Bonus answer:
A super fast spreading fungus with corrosive properties. It could cover whole areas in spores and over time wear out vehicles and weapons.

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I'll use traits from existing animals. While DNA is not a literal blueprint, it does define the shape, placement and effectiveness of the body and organs. Additionally symbiosis like Mitochondria already do and Chimerism (multiple DNA sets in one organism) could further improve the chances of successfully integrating other animal traits into one animal.

When bulletresistant animals come to mind, the Elephant and Grizzlybear (and Badger) are high on the list. Elephants have thick skin and a lot of meat before vitals are hit. Grizzlybears and Badgers both have a thick, loose skin able to take an aweful lot of punishment.

Going with Grizzly bears because they are ommivores that already hunt humans successfully from time to time (stealthily!) And have the ability of hibernation. You want to enhance their bullet resistance and spider silk is a great way to do that. By placing many spidersilk glands inside the skin layer amd migrating the strands throughout the skin layer you can give the skin an additional bullet resistance on par or superior to Kevlar. You can also enmesh the fur of the bear with spidersilks as additional protection.

You naturally want your creature to be dangerous, so lets make its nails an incubationground for the botulus bacteria, which secretes botulinium. One of the, if not the, most dangerous toxins in the animal world. You do need some protections to prevent the toxin from killing the bear ofcourse. Similarly other, less lethal toxins can be used. For a given amount of "less lethal" when the only difference is less than micrograms for a lethal dose.

For additional intelligence you replace the existing brain tissue with that of certain birds like Ara's and Crows, which have denser neurons allowing them their intelligence despite their small size.

You may want to add a group of similarly modified Badgers to the mix. You can take away their fur and replace it with various octopus skins, like that of the catfish. That enables them to simulate immense amounts of camouflage patterns and even neon-like lighting if necessary. The ferociousness, small size and speed make them formidable animals. Badgers despite their size can already survive some handguns and even the powerful bites of lions. They would offer resistance (not immunity) to larger fire arms as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ "By placing many spidersilk glands inside the skin layer amd migrating the strands throughout the skin layer" difficult to do & probably impossible with anything anywhere near real world tech, switching out the keratin production in hair growth for the spider silk might be plausible, giving them thicker double layered fur as well like some cold adapted animals is plausible as is a layer of blubber which would also provide protection, is all liable to cause overheating in warm climates though. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 17, 2021 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Pelinore not as difficult as it may seem. The body can already migrate relatively large foreign objects through the body to expell them if they can't be broken down, not to mention has systems to migrate its own cells to other locations. Things like the immune system and regenerative processes are much more complex than something like this. It might not be possible with current tech but almost nothing is possible with current tech (well technically we can with CRISPR but we don't have the prerequisite knowledge). $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 17, 2021 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ I still can't help feel there's a lot of handwaving in that sentence, seems to me so far into the fiction end of sci fi it's approaching magic from the other end ;) you're talking about whole new structures which is a bit beyond us & seems technically 'complicated' even if it wasn't, but we can splice in instructions for spider silk proteins (after all, we do have a spider silk goat now) & with CRISPR we can choose were to splice so splicing in the instructions for forming spider silk in place of keratin in hair follicles seems more plausible to me than your suggestion is all I'm saying. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 17, 2021 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ ^ Spider Silk Goat $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Aug 17, 2021 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Pelinore just a full description of our skin is an order of magnitude into sci-fi magic. It is already a piece of biological superpower we dismiss on a daily basis. Using the very follicles like you described in a tilted direction could help make this a reality. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 17, 2021 at 17:54
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Other answers give some good ideas. But how about: think of sabotage instead of direct combat. If you can cause the enemy's equipment to malfunction commonly (or at least in battle) then you've given yourself an advantage.

For this one of my first choices would be small rodents. Think along the lines of mice or chipmunks. They can get into all kinds of places. They can chew on electrical cables and maybe some fuel lines. They can build nests in places where airflow is needed (engine intakes, etc). There's probably more kinds of trouble, but those are good enough to start with.

If they're genetically engineered to grow rapidly, breed frequently, and not fear common predators, then unleashing a swarm on your enemy is going to be problematic for them to control. As a bonus perhaps genetic engineering can work around some common poisons and such deterrents.

Of course, this could be a double-edged sword. If they end up infesting your own side's equipment, then you've sabotaged yourself. So you would want to further genetically engineer some kind of special deterrent (pheromone, chemical, sound, etc. take your pick) that you keep as a top military secret and deploy to your own forces in a way the leaves as little chance of anyone figuring it out as possible.

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Such a creature probably wouldn't look much like anything based on Earth biology. But given that it's genetically engineered, perhaps this can be contrived.

It needs to be fast moving. Perhaps not as fast as a jet or even a humvee, but able to move at human sprinting speeds, let's call that 15mph+. It needs to be difficult to target, so smaller than the typical infantry soldier. Anything smaller than a cantaloupe should suffice. But perhaps even smaller is viable... something the size of a grasshopper isn't entirely ruled out, provided that it can offer some threat as you've outlined.

To offer threats to infantry, this thing's just going to have a stinger with some vile form of venom

For tanks, it's more difficult to think of how it could disable the tank (but let's face it, even when the crews are murdered, sometimes those are just hosed out and welded together again). So, the primary mode of attack will be to attack the crews, which are rather vulnerable even if it seems like they aren't. Tanks need air, they aren't self-contained atmospherically.

If we have the insect-sized attackers, you'll want a swarm behavior to clog air intakes, both to stall out the motors and to choke out the crews until they attempt escape.

But if you could have the melon-sized attacker, I also wonder why it couldn't be programmed to stuff itself down the barrel. It wouldn't be foreworthy until the obstruction was cleared, without that firing the gun risks blowing the thing. Such a tactic could put the thing out of commission for days. And if the organism were capable of excretions that could permanently foul the barrel... just wow. For instance, there are some deep-sea organisms that can secret metallic iron, depositing it in a way reminiscent of electroplating. I'm not sure how much would need to be deposited on the inside of an M1 barrel to make it permanently unfireable, but it's not some massive amount either, not a quarter-inch or anything like that.

Such an organism would ideally be "protoplasmic" in its body composition, with no distinct organs that could be damaged (immune to small arms fire). Unable to fly, they might hide away in dense foliage, waiting for a tank to come through. Even up in trees, waiting to fall down on top when they sense tanks rumbling by underneath.

The insect model is nice too, because with flight they could be quick and deadly. Swarming would be horrific, and large swarms might even be resistant to flamethrowers (in the "we can weather attrition more than you can" sense of the word).

Your super-murder-hornets might, for instance, have some novel venom that is simply corrosive in addition to being ordinarily venomous... there won't be much antidote if it's eating away the flesh that it was injected to. Or maybe they just harbor the microbes that cause necrotizing fasciitis. Thus even if given the antidote, they will only recover from the venom and not the resulting infection. Their stingers aren't one-shots like honey bees, they can run around being vicious little shits. Long enough to penetrate most chemical warfare protective equipment, and all of the uniform save maybe the boot leather.

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