If these animals hadn't gone extinct, how would they fare today?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by saint polype, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. saint polype Well-Known Member

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    The premise is to pick an animal species which has been hunted or otherwise pushed into exinction by humans in our timeline and somehow have it survive well into the 21st century, probably by sheer luck.

    How well would they do now? Would their population stabilize, would they firmly remain on the list of threatened species, would they still be among the first to go extinct eventually?

    I would think a lot of arctic species could still be around today if passing ships hadn't relied on them for provisions quite so aggressively. If steller's sea cow or the great auk survived that era of sea travel, even if just hanging on by a thread, then I could easily see them become "normal" arctic species to us like walruses or polar bears. Stil severely threatened, perhaps, especially by climate change, but far from fading into distant memory as they are in our timeline.

    On a sidenote, do you think that extinction at the hand of humans is a "meritocracy", meaning that if a species dies out, this necessarily means it has been more fragile than other species in the first place? So for instance, in no timeline coild the walrus go extinct before steller's sea cow, unless something truely bizarre happens.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  2. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    really depends on the species. Those that lived on isolated islands that later got inundated with rats, cats, and dogs are still likely to be doomed... they don't have any defenses against such invaders. Stellar's sea cow and the great auk could have survived if not hunted so aggressively. Species like the passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet apparently required a lot of space and numbers to breed/live, and likely wouldn't survive in broken up habitats. To answer your last question, yes some species are more fragile than others, particularly those isolated island ones... but others were simply wiped out by too aggressive hunting and could have survived in today's world..
     
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  3. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    "Generally" in North America, if any animal limped past the Great War you could set up a conservation movement to keep them from going extinct. Its easier with mammals and birds than it is for fish and cold blooded critters though. Most of them would be limping along hovering around endangered and critically endangered, but a few might bounce back to simply endangered or threatened. It really depends on the animal and some big butterflies. Read about the Mauritius Kestrel and what a near run thing their survival was. It's so dependent on butterflies that it really could go either way for most of the animals... but if your animal is fuzzy and cute, it's chance of survival goes up exponentially.
     
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  4. Zachariah Well-Known Member

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    How about the Haast's Eagles? Probably among the most likely of New Zealand's megafauna to cling on and survive; perhaps if the Maori had introduced pigs as well as dogs and rats, thus giving a few Haast's Eagles a viable alternative prey animal after the extinction of the Moas (besides humans)?
     
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  5. Zachariah Well-Known Member

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    Also, there were plenty of animals which were specifically targeted for extinction IOTL, for reasons which could easily be butterflied away in other TLs. And others which escaped extinction due to relative isolation, which wouldn't be so lucky in ATLs. For instance, in the Papuan TL that I've been working on (on hiatus for the past few months), the island of New Guinea is set to be the hub of Oceanian civilization, with a larger population than OTL's Java. And as such, ITTL, all but a few species of Birds of Paradise will be hunted to extinction for the lucrative trade in their feathers (which were believed to be Phoenix feathers by the Chinese), with the few surviving species only escaping extinction courtesy of domestication. However, with New Guinea taking the place of Java as the central population hub of Oceania, including the Indonesian archipelago, the Javan Tiger will survive ITTL, as will Javan elephants, albeit narrowly.
     
  6. Clandango Well-Known Member

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    I imagine that birds hunted for beautiful feathers would become luxury pets. And... Now that I think of it, hard to imagine animals being brought back to Europe. Possibly because it is so urbanized in areas (with farms taking up a lot of the rest of the space) that there wouldn't be room. At least not without sacrifices. Hardly as if we will have entire villages evicted so that tourists can see an unspoiled land. Possibly with the older houses being kept around as cabins for tourists. 400 Euros a night.
     
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  7. Zachariah Well-Known Member

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    How about in an ATL where Europe is far less urbanized and densely populated than it is IOTL? Might far more European megafauna survive in such an ATL- for instance, might the Mammoths escape extinction and have surviving populations in the British Isles, if they had a population density comparable to those of British Columbia and Alaska?
     
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  8. saint polype Well-Known Member

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    I can't help but think it's a bit arbitrary that animals like the panda and the kakapo managed to survive OTL, with so many other fragile species going exinct. There must be a certain degree of chance involved (for crying out loud, the kakapo females evolved to HATE the kakapo male's mating call, because discouraging reproduction was an advantage when their small habitat was completely isolated).
     
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  9. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    the panda isn't particularly fragile; it's a big animal that was spread over a big area. The main problem with it is it's total reliance on bamboo and it's rather finicky mating habits. What really endangered it more than anything else was habitat loss... it rebounded mainly because it had what most big animals need: time, space, and not being hunted. Time and space aren't really an option for a lot of those isolated island species...
     
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  10. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    The British Isles had a population density that low during the Neolithic and Bronze Age and they still went extinct. And I don't see how a population density that low is sustainable long-term unless this is common everywhere.
     
  11. oshron Emperor of Rplegacy

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    i think one of the more likely animals that could avoid extinction was the heath hen, mainly because a major cause for it was actually a random fire at their last refuge on Martha's Vineyard and that killed alot of the remaining hens. i've speculated for my ASB ATL that they could survive if that fire doesn't happen, but that they'd never get back to their former range--they'd only be on Martha's Vineyard and in captivity
    i kinda doubt that--as a livestock predator, measures would be taken to exterminate them. unfortunately, that's usually how it goes.
     
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  12. Emperor Julian Apostata

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    How would you be able to achieve that though? It would require breaking the jet stream.
     
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  13. Tyler96 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Mammoths- if you somehow prevent the human settlement of Wrangel Island couldn't they theoretically keep on surviving there (they supposedly made it to 4000 years ago IOTL)?

    Any way to keep Europeans out of Tasmania, or do something about their behaviour there, so the Thylacine can survive (though a lot of people think it survived anyway IOTL- reported sightings, cryptozoologists etc.)?
     
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  14. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    The various dwarf elephants of the Mediterranean islands would be beast. With their short thick legs I imagine they could be used like ponies, beasts of burden in areas where horse and oxen don't fit. Imagine mountain top complexes similar to Machu Picchu in the mountains of Crete. Imagine the breeding economy that would emerge as traders begin dispersing the various varieties of dwarf elephant! They'd also be adorable.
     
  15. oshron Emperor of Rplegacy

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    iirc the Wrangel mammoths bred themselves out long before humans arrived there, and i seem to remember reading that the consensus for mammoths' extinction in general was inbreeding, not overhunting (granted, overhunting probably forced that)
     
  16. 1940LaSalle Member

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    If someone along the lines of John James Audubon had spoken out forcefully enough, perhaps the passenger pigeon might have been less widely hunted such that a small population might have been gathered in zoos in, say, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chicago by the beginning of the 20th century. It would (survive) as a captive species. Same might be true of the Carolina parakeet, although orchard farmers had a rough go with that bird and their crops (interesting, as late as the 1940s, some birding authorities held out dim hope that a handful of specimens might still be alive in some remote reaches of the south, but to no avail).

    As noted above, the heath hen became extinct in the end through an accident; avoid that somehow and couple preservation efforts in the '20s and '30s and a modest population could still survive.

    A bit surprised nobody mentioned the quagga, a relative of the zebra that became extinct in the 1880s. A few specimens made it to zoos in Europe, but not enough to yield a breeding population. Get a handful more taken into captivity, and perhaps it might still be around as another captive or near-captive species.

    Anything that went extinct before the Industrial Revolution...good luck. Animals were (generalizing wildly) viewed as resources to be exploited or shoved aside if they got in man's way. Thus, I wouldn't hold out any hope for the great auk (extinct, I think, in the 1830s)-and forget the dodo.
     
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  17. 1940LaSalle Member

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    Uh huh. Might also create a no-skill job: cleaning up after those beasts. As hay-burners, they're gonna leave one hell of a lot of exhaust products. (I suppose that could become a source of nitrates for gunpowder, though.)
     
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  18. Byzantion Well-Known Member

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    Hannibal's North Africa tameable elephants would be interesting as well the Syrian elephants, both extinct long time ago. Also lion's historical range is interesting. Greece, Hungary, Balkans etc and tigers in Caucasus mountains. Another one is the Urochs, the gigantic wild bull of Eurasian forests which Ceasar described and only died out in the 17th Century due to overhunting.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017 at 3:11 PM
  19. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    The aurochs just evolved into modern cattle though.
     
  20. Escape Zeppelin Well-Known Member

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    Mostly extinct in the 1830's, the last known sighting was 1852. Much of the great auk's extinction had to do with a demand for it's eggs as a museum and curiosity item and simple bad luck. I think that its survival would be a very close run thing but not necessarily an inevitable one. As a cliff nesting seabird, without active demand for their eggs there are several places in the north Atlantic they could be fairly free of human hunting.

    Yes, they're more like dogs and wolves than a truly different species. Also, there was an attempt to breed the last of the aurochs in the 1600's to keep them alive although "pure" aurochs free from cattle heritage probably hadn't existed in Europe for centuries.
     
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