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What animals might be adapted to live on Mars?

written by Alex Moore on September 05, 2000 | author profile | forum profile | contact me
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A monkey on Mars?
A monkey on Mars?
Credit: Unknown
Earth's biosphere contains a food chain so complicated and diverse that it is unexplained in science. Modern biologists rely on two very old theories, one being that each link in the food chain is reliant upon the link before it, and that each link is reliant upon the one after it. To explain this, we can look at a gazelle. A gazelle relies on grass for food. On the higher end of the food chain, a gazelle supplies a lion with food. But this also means that the gazelle is reliant upon the lion, since by its hunting, the gazelle population remains fairly even and there is enough grass for everyone.

Although Mars may not see prancing gazelle and roaming lions on its surface for some time, the idea stands firm. Once biologically engineered rodents and mammals are introduced to the red planet, they will have no natural enemies. (See Also: Terran Vegetation) This is in essence a food chain with a missing link, and will therefore not function.

Our job as scientists is to learn what steps could be taken to limit reproduction levels of the dominant animal species without killing lower food chain species. Some theories that have been brought to my attention include suicide genes to be implemented into every new species. The effects of this trait on mammals have not yet been tested, although some are certain it will be successful.

Mars is certain to be well below freezing even if the air is suitable for animals. Animals introduced in these stages of terraforming will be of arctic origins. Hybrid species of arctic fox or even bear could become the top of the food chain for several decades, before average temperatures rise to allow for temperate animals.

When that will be is a matter of debate. The extremes ranging from 2 weeks to 100,000 years or more. I have a more optimistic figure, predicting that Mars will be suitable for larger adapted temperate animals in roughly 350 years. Whether this is true or not determines on political factors such as funding and public support.

Animals will run free on the surface of Mars, it is simply a matter of when. As we learn more about Earth's own biosphere, we can create one on Mars.

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