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My world of Find out is somewhat like earth having all the same environments in addition to many more of the extreme ones. For example: bigger temperature differences during seasons, more underwater lakes and rivers, more volcanic activity and acidic bodies of water are more numerous.

Many of the animals are convergent with earth animals, but the more extreme the environment the more similar they look to each other(with the exception of very different species evolving different to live there,which becomes less common in the more extreme places). I'll refer to the creature monster roach

Physical features:

  • exoskeleton

  • scavenger

  • six leg

  • wings

  • poisonous (not to other of its kind)

  • up to 15in(38.1cm) long, 4in(10.16cm) wide, and 3in(7.62cm) tall.

  • closed circulatory system

What makes the monster roach so special is that when it comes to a environment it isn't suited for it builds a small shelter, then remains inside and motionless for 2-3 weeks. Inside the original exoskeleton it goes through many changes to better itself for the new environment but the basic body structure is the same. After a 2-3 weeks it breaks out of the original exoskeleton (which is no longer necessary), eats the old exoskeleton, and is better suited for the new environment[for example: different color, better at handling the heat or cold. (Not fur, extra wings, gills)]. It can do this any amount of times as long as the monster roach is strong enough.

The main reason to switch to a new environment is to hide its eggs, but it will switch for other reasons.

Is this creature's way of adapting feasible for such a creature?

If there is anything unclear about this question tell me and I'll try to clarify it. If you decide to VTC or downvote, let me know why so then I can improve future posts and this one.

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  • $\begingroup$ A couple of questions: "...the more extreme the environment the more similar they look to each other..." - do you mean that reindeer, seals, polar bears and whales all living in a really cold environment look more like each other? The monster roach changes itself to be better suited for the new environment - how does it do that? What changes does it make? (Can you give an example?) Without knowing the mechanism, we cannot comment on the feasibility. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 1No I meant in that world they had out competed them and/or other creatures haven't needed to adapt to live there yet 2 I'll edit the question to have an example $\endgroup$
    – fafo
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 12:22

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No

That isn't the way biology or evolution works.

The moths of Britain during the industrial revolution became darker. The simplistic reason is "because of the pollution of coal soot." The more accurate (but still simplistic, yet useful) answer is "because lighter moths were easier to hunt in the changed environment so there were fewer light moths to pass on their genetic variant, leaving only those moths with darker coloration." In other words, the moths didn't actually change so much that a tendency to have a darker color, which already existed, persevered over a lighter color.

I need to emphasize this point. The moths didn't "evolve" a new color (not quite true, but hold the thought). The ability to be colored darker already existed in the moths' genome. What happened is that an easily hunted variation of the moth was exterminated, leaving a more difficult to hunt variation of the moth to reproduce. Curiously, a century later and after untold volumes of laws and the invention of technology brought about cleaner air, the number of light-colored moths is increasing... because the darker color is now easier to hunt than the lighter color. This is one of many ways that evolution operates, but it's the short-term version (sometimes called "adaptation") vs. the long-term version where the genome itself changes.

But that's not what you're explaining. You're explaining an intentional change due to detected variations in the environment, not a shift in the dominance of one variant over another due to a change in the environment that favors predation of one variant over another. So when you ask, "is this feasible?" the answer is "not according to any science we understand today."

But let's ignore "is this feasible?" (which isn't what we do well) and focus on "is there an example from Real Life I can use to model something believable?" (which we do very well)

Let's look at those British moths more closely. Specifically, let's look at the life cycle of the Peppered Moth, which isn't dissimilar to pretty much any moth or butterfly, but it's useful for our purposes.

Peppered moth eggs hatch during mid summer. Larvae (caterpillars) feed on the leaves of birch, willow, and oak trees. The larvae look much like a small branch. Having a body that looks like a stick helps the larvae hide from predators. The larvae can even adjust their color from brown to green to best match the branches they are feeding on.

Cold weather is difficult for insects. To avoid death, peppered moth larvae change into pupae (cocoons) for the winter. In April and May the pupae open to reveal a new adult moth. These adults will lay eggs and die by the end of summer. No peppered moth lives for more than one year.

Your creature has variations that are happier in (e.g.) hot weather than in cold weather and vice-versa. Just like humans, if you think about it. But what if your creature, when it encounters an environment it's not "evolved" to survive (i.e., that the variant isn't disposed to prefer — similar to the larvae when cold weather sets in), doesn't just hibernate, but changes into a pupae? Unlike moths, they can do this (perhaps) as often as is necessary, though in the course of "natural life" this is highly unlikely to occur more than twice: once when changing from juvenile to adult, and once again when the new environment demands it. After that the creature (probably) hasn't the strength to do it again, but that doesn't matter because by that time (save for "special circumstances" where things happen unnaturally quickly) they have reproduced and passed on the ability to once again adapt to a new extreme environment.

Using this rationalization, it would be unbelievable for such a creature to "evolve" fur when moving from a hot environment to a cold environment. That's changing the genome. But it would rationalize the creature developing a (more) dense fatty layer to preserve heat. In other words, we're looking for a way for the creature to fundamentally remain the same creature, but to enhance or diminish a pre-existing capability to better handle the changes in environment.

Remember, changing the genome (suddenly growing fur where the ability to grow fur didn't previously exist) takes hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of years. But shifting from (using a metaphor) a mostly-bare-chested human male to a mostly-hairy-chested human male using a method like what the Peppered Moth uses... that's believable.

Note: An astute reader may point out that the Peppered Moth changes from a caterpillar to a moth, the one having wings and the other no, so why can't such a fundamental difference also exist in the OP's creature? The problem is that, to my (admittedly limited) knowledge, there isn't an example of such a creature changing back from a moth to a caterpillar. It's a one-time one-way street. What I'm suggesting is that we use the idea to rationalize a (most likely) two-time one-way street. The creature can bundle up to increase or decrease what it already has, but it can't materially change from one thing to another on the second pass. Hopefully I've made this clear. Maybe not. It's getting late.

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you for your answer and it pointed out a problem with my question. I'll try to clear up about how much it could change gonna edit it slightly $\endgroup$
    – fafo
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 12:12
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Such a thing may be possible as the options available from chemistry are vast and over an unimaginable period of time the possibilities are almost endless. But almost endless is not the same thing as endless. There are things that nature has not developed that might have been considered "handy". For instance there are no macroscopic wheels in the animal kingdom.

What you describe has not to my knowledge evolved on Earth, but it is perhaps possible elsewhere. One key point is the monster roach needs to know what environment it is likely to emerge into after its metamorphosis. On Earth there are adaptations to annual climatic change and the day night cycle.

Something relatively reliable would need to signal what the environmental change would be ahead of time (steadily decreasing light levels warn that night approaches, colder temperatures warn that winter approaches).

So it must be fairly obvious that for example the wet season will soon arrive to trigger the change to aquatic abilities.

Also metamorphosis would involve significant hazards (predators, wasted time, genetic complexity) so would be unlikely to be used if there was a simpler way to achieve the end such as by molting or just changing colour.

Multiple metamorphosis options might conceivably exist, but the greater the change and variety the less likely they become as there is probably an easier way to achieve the same end biologically by other means.

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