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The concept of a planet with several anthropomorphic sapient species (furries, if you will) is immensely popular. But would it actually make sense in the first place?

I am aware of the issue of "Carnivore Confusion" (the question of what would they eat besides each other) but that is not what this is necessarily about. This question pertains specifically to the possibility of how one could place possibly up to hundreds of sapient furry species on one planet without it being a ecological and evolutionary disaster.

Would there be an absolute limit to how many sapient species you could have? Would there be several versions of the same animal (rabbits, for example) based on area? Would they drive each other to extinction until one or two species are left?

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If you want to have lots of sapient species, in a variety of sizes, all existing at the same time, you have to abandon conventional evolution. It's implausible that they would all achieve sapience at pretty much the same time, rather than at different points in the life of their planet. That leaves you with several ways of achieving the scenario you want, including:

  1. God(s) made all these species.

  2. Some species with very advanced biological engineering made them. They might be from some other world, or universe; they might still be around, either keeping their capabilities secret or having lost them.

  3. They aren't really separate species. They're one species that can develop in many different ways. The closest examples in Earthly mammals are dogs: all the different breeds are still the same species. They aren't genetically identical, but they are all closely related and capable of interbreeding. In plants, the same species, Brassica oleracea, produces lots of different "cultivars", which we treat as distinct crops: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, kohlrabi and kai-lan. There isn't an obvious reason why animals can't do this: Earthly ones don't, but nothing keeps you from claiming that alien ones can. This one gives you interesting possibilities for social conflict as a child of rabbit-people decides she wants to grow up as a wolf, for example.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, that point about simultaneous sapience is a killer. Humans only got to sapience a few hundred thousand years ago, and look how fast changes came after that. I think you could plausibly explain two species developing sapience sufficiently close together (albeit one would probably be far behind on the technological curve), but any more than that is going to break believability. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Oct 2 '16 at 14:30
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I'd say it depends on the climate.
Remember, Homo Neanderthalensis and Homo Sapiens were able to coexist on the same planet for a long time before climate change forced/allowed the two groups to come into contact with one another. I suspect that, were it still an Ice Age, we'd still be at least able to live together.

Another possibility lies in a civilization from the old game Star Control 2: The Zoq-Fot-Pik.
(Bear with me here, this is an old game, and some of its ideas are a bit...eccentric.)

Zoq, Fot, and Pik.

Long ago, in the distant past of their homeworld, four separate species were able to evolve sentience on the planet Alpha Tucanae b: The Zoq, the Fot, the Pik, and the Zebranky. While the Zoq, Fot, and Pik were quite content collecting raw nutrients from their environment, the Zebranky were carnivorous, and took a liking to devouring the other three. This pressure from an outside threat caused the three separate species to put aside their differences, and band together to form an alliance; eventually, their combined efforts were able to completely eradicate the Zebranky.

So what could happen is perhaps the civilizations could unify, and integrate into one society? Just some ideas.

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