Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

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p1t1o
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Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

Postby p1t1o » Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:52 pm UTC

To clarify:

We all know the cycle: 1 animal evolves to be a bit faster by escaping predators, a predator which feeds on it evolves ambush tactics, the prey animal evolves horns etc...

Has there ever been examples where one species evolved a trait which another species failed to counter, and was then hunted to extinction?

This could apply in another way, where a prey species evolves an ability which assists its survival, to which a predator species does not evolve a sufficient answer, starving it to extinction.

Possibly there are other contexts which might also apply.


I suppose that mostly, the predator-prey family tree is complex enough, that this is less likely. However, there are examples of isolated predator-prey relationships which involve very few species which could be more vulnerable?

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Sizik
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Re: Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

Postby Sizik » Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:06 pm UTC

I assume you mean other than humans?
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Xanthir
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Re: Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

Postby Xanthir » Fri Oct 21, 2016 7:54 pm UTC

For a big example, there was the changeover from a reducing atmosphere to an oxygen atmosphere, caused by the rise of blue-green algae, which caused the extinction of most other life on earth at the time. There's probably several other examples of "species A changes the environment in some significant way, rendering species B unable to survive".

We also have a number of examples of predator species being introduced to new environments, and hunting some native wildlife (which hadn't co-evolved appropriate defenses) to death.
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Re: Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:02 pm UTC

Yeah, to get a rapid extinction, you need a rapid change - otherwise, it'll just be a gradual pressure that squeezes out that other species, not a sudden extinction the moment a particular trait arises. I mean, it takes time for that trait to spread within the offending population, too. But invasive species have always been a thing, they were just a lot rarer when they didn't have boats and airplanes to hitch rides on. All Australian marsupials are thought to have developed from a single invasive species, possibly even a single introduction "rafting event". South America's terror birds are thought to have been wiped out by competition from North American mammal predators when the continents met.
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LaserGuy
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Re: Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:56 pm UTC

This has definitely happened in the case of introduced species (eg. rats being introduced to small islands and proceeding to wipe out the native bird population).

There's also co-extinction evens, where a particular species goes extinct, which in turn causes a specific parasite or other organism that depends exclusively on that species to also die out.

It's likely happened in the more general case you're describing; however, it's much more difficult to prove conclusively since extinctions that don't result from significant perturbations in the environment (climate change, asteroid strike, introduced species (including humans)) tend to have fairly long timescales.

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Re: Has any other species ever rendered another extinct?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Oct 28, 2016 5:18 pm UTC

p1t1o wrote:To clarify:

We all know the cycle: 1 animal evolves to be a bit faster by escaping predators, a predator which feeds on it evolves ambush tactics, the prey animal evolves horns etc...

Has there ever been examples where one species evolved a trait which another species failed to counter, and was then hunted to extinction?


Oh, god yes.

The entire history of evolution has been filled with dead ends.

It's not usually JUST a matter of being hunted to death, but also of being in a niche or otherwise restricted. The smaller the population and the lower the birth rate, the easier it is for a new adaptation to murder your entire species before you adapt. Humans probably ain't gonna kill off rabbits, but life is rough if you're a big cat.


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