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I’m fairly certain I read a book with this basic plot maybe a decade ago, the idea of it stuck in my head for so long that I’m sure I’d read it in the past.

The basic premise is that there are some small predatory creatures, in my head they’re meant to be designed like baby crocodiles, that escape from a facility or a lab and rapidly multiply. They cause havoc in the immediate area and hurt and kill people, which leads to some sort of authorities trying to eradicate them.

Once they believe they’ve eradicated them in the water, it turns out that they’ve rapidly adapted or evolved wings, and they wreak even more mayhem this way.

The closest novel I can find to this idea is Natural Selection by Dave Freedman, though after digging around it I’m about 99% sure this isn’t it, since I can remember the predatory creatures getting loose from some sort of facility.

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Is this Menace From the Deep (2013) by Michael P. Spradlin...?

Emmet Doyle is not in the best mood when he arrives in Florida City. His father is a wildlife biologist, and has been summoned to the Everglades, dragging Emmet along with him. Though still in mourning from losing his mom a year ago, Emmet's trying hard to keep a good attitude.

Upon their arrival, however, things quickly get weird. Dr. Rosalita Geaux, the Park Superintendent, wastes no time in revealing the reason she called Emmet's father to Florida. A strange creature was recently found dead in the park, and upon seeing it, it becomes clear to everyone that this is not a native species. This is man-made.

Deep in the swamp, someone has been experimenting to create a new breed of apex predator. And they're about to set them loose.

According to this excerpt from a review, the creatures are a genetically-engineered hybrid of alligators and raptors, intended to rid the Everglades of invasive pythons.

A misguided genius has come up with a brilliant plan to rid the Everglades of invasive pythons--he's genetically manipulated alligators to create a super-predator. These new creatures are alligators crossed with raptors--and they are, indeed, effective at killing pythons.

And this excerpt, transcribed from the Google Books preview of the book itself, reveals that the creatures are dubbed 'Pterogators,' and have wing-like flaps that enable them to glide across short distances like flying squirrels.

The python moved its head back and forth, slithering down the tree trunk. But it was too late. The Pterogators leapt down from their perches in the nearby trees. As they jumped they spread all four legs and a flap of skin opened, connected to their bodies, just above the knee joints. It allowed them to glide from branch to branch, much like their reptilian ancestors, the archosaurs, navigated the canopy of the Cretaceous forest millions of years ago.

These flaps are explicitly referred to as "wings" in another, longer excerpt from the book itself.

Dr. Catalyst stood inside the laboratory of his compound, studying the new batch of hatchlings inside the tank. Only four weeks old, they were already approaching eighteen inches in length. While the embryos gestated inside their eggs, he'd injected them with a series of growth hormones. A normal alligator would take years to achieve a mature length of up to fifteen feet. His method advanced the process so that they would reach ten to twelve feet in a matter of months. At that size they would be more than capable of hunting and destroying a large snake.
With a large pair of thick leather gloves, he lifted one of the hatchlings from the tank. Despite their size, their teeth and claws were razor-sharp. Carefully he placed the small creature inside a tank on the other side of the room. This one held half a dozen small boa constrictors, none more than two feet in length. The tank was one hundred and fifty gallons in capacity, and the snakes were curled in a ball at the end. Dr. Catalyst placed the hatchling at the opposite end of the tank.
It lifted its neck. There was slight movement around its nostrils as it sniffed the air. Its eyes focused on the ball of snakes and it took a small leap; the folded wings between its legs stretched out, and it glided through the air, landing feetfirst on the pile of snakes. The boas were frantic to escape. Some tried to slither away, while others wrapped themselves around the hybrid, attempting to strangle it.
The snakes were no match for even the smaller beast. With gruesome efficiency, it bit down on the body of one of the boas, while its claws tore at another. The remaining snakes tried to flee the cage, but there was no escape. Within minutes the small hybrid killed them all, just as it'd been designed to.

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    Introducing another invasive species to deal with the first one? "She swallowed the spider to catch the fly...."
    – Adamant
    May 17, 2023 at 6:50
  • @Adamant That's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death!
    – Showsni
    May 18, 2023 at 12:27
  • That's how we ended up with Kudzu in the deep South, @Adamant, and all sorts of other issues...
    – FreeMan
    Jan 9 at 15:49

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