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The wolpertinger is a hybrid animal similar to a jackalope, that is found in places like southern Germany

It resembles a squirrel overall. The head is like a hare, with a pair of antlers and fangs/tusks in the mouth. They have a pair of wings similar to that of a pheasant. Their feet are bird-like, with grasping claws on the forelegs and webbed feet on the hindlegs.

enter image description here

This anatomy seems paradoxical; The squirrel body and grasping claws imply an arboreal life, yet the head and wings seem to fit a field grazer, and feet and fangs seem to indicate further lifestyles

Is there some niche that this wolpertinger would be able to fill?

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  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to remove the image if you don't like it. I added it to try and make it easier to picture what on earth this thing is meant to look like, since it was the closest I found from the description. $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2022 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Everyone eats it and it goes extinct. The end. $\endgroup$
    – Leviathan
    Feb 27, 2022 at 19:10

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Q: "Is there some niche that this wolpertinger would be able to fill?"

Evolution does not create Swiss army knives

If you talk "niche" you imply specialisation. This animal is not specialized, it is a small rodent animal that can apparently climb, swim, fly and fight. When evolution would choose either of these paths, other features would shrink, weaken and disappear.

Mutually exclusive features make life difficult

Duck feet are useless when antlers would inhibit your Wolpertinger to swim. Your tree climbing Wolpertinger needs nails, instead of duck feet. In trees, it will need a good tail for balance, but same time, the tail would inhibit a squirrel to fly, even if it had wings. When your animal would seek food like hares do, bipedalism and wings would not come in handy, so nature would choose either direction, not both.

Nature would undo unfit additions

New, but failed/superfluous new features are removed quite easily. Your Wolpertinger having a mutation that removes the antlers, would have a greater chance to survive anyway, because the animal has no use for antlers.. the new variant does not have to invest the energy to grow and carry them. Similarly, a mutation that restores squirrel-like feet to the chimaera would result in easier survival on land.

You can't have it all.

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Convenient snack

This animal must have been genetically engineered and raised on farms, as its characteristics make it so extremely vulnerable to predation that it could never survive in the wild.

The antlers are (literally) its crowning attribute. Antlers will get it hung up in almost any vegetation so it can't hide, it can't climb and it can't even use other animals' burrows. The significant weight of the antlers, especially so far forward, guarantee it cannot fly and hinder it enormously if it attempts to use its webbed hindfeet to swim.

Given that it cannot fly, the wings are nothing but a hindrance and a metabolic cost to the animal.

The only plausible explanation for the hexapodal body plan is that someone likes to have a mix of legs and wings on their snacks (there are good reasons that no real-world vertebrates have six limbs). If the species responsible for the genetic engineering like their food raw (eg Kzinti) then the antlers are a convenient hand-hold for this tasty snack.

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  • $\begingroup$ It appears to me from the picture the wings are simply bird feathers growing out of the shoulders, with no skeleton inside. But if that's the case, what purpose could they serve? $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2022 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnDvorak Warmth and fassion for the glamorous and the flutterati. $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2022 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. not gonna lie, I actually like it. $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2022 at 18:34

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