1. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    How would sapient tigers/bears/wolves enslave humans?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Mouthwash, Jul 9, 2017.

    I've had this idea for intelligent beasts building a civilization based on human slavery. The humans would handle all the work requiring opposable thumbs and the beasts (haven't decided what species) dominate them by sheer physical ability. These beasts started out as primitive, but developed technology over thousands of years since they started enslaving humans - it isn't that different from the rise of civilization on Earth, except it couldn't be maintained without the involvement of another species.

    So any ideas for how this could work? I don't think it's comparable to how humans used elephants or horses, since the masters could still alter their environments (and the same goes for historical slavery). I imagine the beasts shut the humans away from any tools when they aren't being supervised, and most humans would be publicly owned instead of chattel, since they could easily sabotage or poison careless masters. Or would the relationship be more symbiotic? The beasts probably wouldn't invent much weaponry, so the domestic humans would rely utterly on them for food and protection. Still, slave armies are common in history and the bow-and-arrow is always a huge advantage, so it's possible that they would be used in such fashion.

    Also, anyone know primitive technologies that wouldn't require the use of opposable thumbs? Could the beasts build basic structures, even write?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin The game sour like a pickle be.... Contributor

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    Not really, no. And that would be the rub. How would your sapient species corral and "shut the humans away from any tools when they aren't being supervised" if they can't construct some kind of restraining structure? Particularly one that could encase a human, who can easily climb over or through a fence or boost each other out of a reasonably deep hole.
     
  3. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    It would almost certainly have to be an alternate history style tale, one where animals don't have to overcome the massive disparity in tech and power. It would have to be something where the beasts developed intelligence first, and sort of domesticated humans as pets. And once humans developed intelligence, they were already predisposed to perform the whims of their masters. Also, even after developing enough intelligence to speak tiger, or bear, or whatever, they'd still be relatively dumb compared to the animal masters. So you could have the tigers (I'm using tigers because I like them best) figure out the tech using humans as their hands from that point on. But in the beginnings of their civilization, they'd basically have been The Jungle Book. Their history and teaching would all be oral tradition.

    As far as domestication and keeping of humans, threat of violence and population control would do the trick. To me, the big hurdle would be the question of why the tigers want tools to begin with. They only appear to need them now because we have them and no other species can keep up with a tool-user. But if your species of apex predators also develops human-level intelligence, that still doesn't explain a sudden desire for tools. Because they are apex predators, they wouldn't need to develop tools to make them more effective at what they do, so the very idea of tool use probably wouldn't occur to them.
     
  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    You might want to consider doing something like Overgrowth.
    But you would have to give them thumbs, or you have to rely
    entirely on brute force and fear/intimidation otherwise.

     
  5. Domino355

    Domino355 Senior Member

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    The creation of tools pretty much requires opposable thumbs, but there are other technologies that don't need.
    I don't see why bears and wolves would start farming, but they could start shepherding different animals and their culture would start from there. And speech would start from there as well.

    Now bears will start "shepherding" humans as well and raising them as pets, and use selective breeding to make the humans more compliant and raising them to be their "thumbs". Anyways, I see humans in this society being more like "pets" than actual slaves. Though if you watched Rick and Morty, you can think of it as the same thing

    Now while I do see such a culture rising, I don't think they'd get past the stone age. One part of intelligence we have is "muscle intelligence", inventing new things by working with our hands.

    As for building, well, I can actually see bears creating large stone structures. They'll be rough, but will do. Stonehedge is very impressive without any means of sticking the rocks together. Also, I can see bears making wooden tools by carving wood with their claws, so maybe they'll have a wodden age.

    Another direction you can go is giving these creatures thumbs. I think the best animal for that is a bear, really. I'm pretty sure bears already have quite good control and can use their paws for many delicate needs. All they need is for a small nudge of evolution to develop the right kind of hands.

    The best animals in general in my opinion are bears, for their ability to be bipedal, and wolves, for their social behaviour.
     
  6. Domino355

    Domino355 Senior Member

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    To emphasize on the selctive breeding. We have turned one of nature's most efficent predator's into "man's best friend." I actually see these new humans as different from us as the average dog is from the wolf, and far more difference between dofferent human "races".

    A really interesting choice is to have "wild humans" who have not been domesticated. You can emphasise the difference between them and the "housemen" as initially they'd behave like completely different species. They could even interact with the predators by either war or trade, and maybe will "buy" these domesticated humans as their own slaves.

    Altogether this is a really interesting idea, and can raise alot of questions about everything.
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Tigers or other cats could evolve a thumb from the dew claw ... if you look at how cats grab things they are already using their pads like primitive fingers .... also cats have incredibly fast reactions and paw/eye coordination which would give them a serious edge over humans if we didn't have projectile weapons
     
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  8. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    The restraining structures would be built by humans. Remember that the beasts didn't start off with civilization - their first human slaves would have probably just been herded around like sheep.

    Also, I don't mean to say that the humans wouldn't be watched. Only that they couldn't all be supervised individually. They'd have guards 24/7, and those guards would have superhuman hearing and smelling abilities.

    It's a fantasy world, lol. I do want my humans to be just as intelligent as regular humans. They're just in the Stone Age.

    I don't see why this is an issue. Humans developed agriculture and animal husbandry because their population couldn't be sustained by hunting and gathering. Intelligent bears/tigers/wolves could still keep livestock, and they'd find cities and castles as useful as humans did.

    The roles that slaves have depend on the needs of the slavers. Household slaves don't live the same sort of life as slaves in mines and quarries.

    Yes, but surely they would develop workarounds once they had a proper civilization going. Could sailing ships be managed without flexible digits? What about doors? Perhaps they would have something fitted inside their mouths or over their paws to help them manipulate things - but I'm not sure what those would be.

    No other species in the world can cooperate on the scale that humans can, without being outright eusocial. Regardless of the species they'll have a completely unrealistic psychology.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  9. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I'm actually interested in exploring what a society would look like for a species that are more asocial than humans are, but I can always just save that for my own work :)

    I think that if tigers are dependent on human slaves to build everything, including the structures that keep humans imprisoned, then their best bet would be to encourage a class system where a small number of humans are rewarded by their masters for handling the engineering aspect of controlling everybody else.
     
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  10. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    Why? The tigers would be able to design stuff themselves. They just couldn't physically build their designs.
     
  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Right. That's what the higher class of human slave would be for.
     
  12. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    Wait, you're saying that this class of slave would physically build structures themselves? Or just supervise lower slaves? Because I don't see a reason why tigers couldn't do the latter.
     
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Physically building the structures for imprisoning the lower slaves.
     
  14. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    I don't see why they would have to. They'd basically just be barracks or a pit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  15. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Hmm...

    I may be overthinking this, yes.
     
  16. PilotMobius

    PilotMobius Active Member

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    Just give the animals stronger infrastructure and an enforcement system that prevents slaves from rebelling whether it be a police state or civilian lynch mobs. That's how humans enslaved other humans since the beginning of civilization.
     
  17. Domino355

    Domino355 Senior Member

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    Not necessarily. I've read quite alot of anthropologists who say that the human ability to cooperate is due to our far more complex speech. So I find it quite plausible that any social animal who became intelligent enough for speech will have comlex social cunstructs as a human society, albeit a completely different psychology.
     
  18. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    That does make a bit of sense, but bears and tigers are both extremely solitary animals. It's not clear why language would exist without cooperation in the first place.
     
  19. Domino355

    Domino355 Senior Member

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    Exactly, that's why I said wolves.
    Though bears do seem to manage beong in close proximity to each other (when you see rows of hunting for salmon e.g.) so I can see how one group of bears will make some kind of society.
    As for tigers, well, you can always go for lions which could make quite an interesting society.
     
  20. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Well, evolution would massively affect the subjugated species. Once you introduce selective breeding of the more docile ones and eliminating the more aggressive ones, you'll end up with a very different species with ideal physical characteristics. It took humans only about 20,000 years to turn the most friendly wolves into a beagle. Humans would evolve slower due to a longer lifespan, but over thousands of years you'd still introduce huge change.

    Humans and wolves sort of domesticated each other. We were dominate because we could make fire and weapons and we could talk so we could organize better. The wolves hung around to pick scraps and figured out that they could get humans to hunt for them. Humans are believed to have had animalism religions at the time, perhaps you could have a devout group of wolf worshippers become subjugated by then and lead on jihad to elimanate the non subjugated humans. Over generations that obedience would turn into slavery and domestication.
     
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  21. Ettina

    Ettina Senior Member

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  22. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Senior Member

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    Well, I'm only thinking 5-6,000 years here, and the average wolf generation time is 6-8 times faster than that of humans. Plus, the beasts are constantly conducting raids to enslave free humans.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  23. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Yeah, it really seems like your toughest problem is just the fact that humans are the single deadliest animal in the history of teeth. It's easy to forget that we were actually *in* the position you describe at one point in time. Rather than take it lying down, we picked up a stick and taught the fuzzy little bastards the law of Club and Fang.

    Maybe your humans could be a much smaller breed?
     
  24. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Unless the beast species was originally brilliant philosophers and deep thinkers, able to manipulate and create within their heads before directing humans to do it, I find a major gap in the non-opposeable thumb types directing humans to do the building. And why would a powerful, aggressive species remain that way for all time, remain both brilliant while remaining physically imposing and unstoppable (by human standards). I can see it, maybe built into the culture, to remain strong by challenge, to keep a dominant place within the beast overlord society.

    Somewhere along the line, the overlord beasts would have had to learn how to do the building, and much learning comes from experimental trial and error. I guess they could've done that instructing humans to do the actual experimenting (or observed humans and 'stole' the knowledge). And by not developing the tools and skills and retaining them exclusively for themselves, they are building the structure for successful rebellion against them. Why wouldn't the human's use tools and equipment such as fire against their masters, who would be unable to create fire and effectively use/wield it on their own? I guess one could breed intelligence out of humans and docility into them, but then are they really humans?

    I am not saying it cannot work, but I think such concerns would need some form of being addressed for potential readers to suspend disbelief.
     
  25. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    One thing that hasn't been discussed yet is that human intellect, social skills, language and tool use evolved together. Pressure to manipulate the environment led to the need for tool use. That required greater intellect, and thus a larger brain. Larger brains mean larger heads, which would no longer fit through the birth canal at full term. So we started giving birth earlier, which meant more dependant offspring. This increased existing pressure to form social groups to ensure offspring didn't die. Social groups require communication of some kind, which in our case became language because we needed to symbolise.

    Basically, the existence (i.e. evolution) of any of these traits without any of the others is implausible. A group of animals is not going to be able to develop high intellect, language and social structures without tool use. So they would not be able to get into the position of being able to enslave a race of intelligent, verbal humans who do have the ability to use tools and already have opposable thumbs.

    The only way I can see this working is if the humans and other animals start off how they are in reality, and then the non-humans have intellect and language bestowed upon them by supernatural means. They then use these skills to overthrow human civilisation. If you're going to do this though, you have to give them a reason to do it. Wild animals are already well adapted for their environments. Suddenly giving them more brain power won't change that - it won't change the selection pressure on them, since those pressures are external. So you would also have to give them a reason to either need the humans to be under control (if they posed a threat for example) or a reason to need them (like in your example of using them as manipulators of tools - but again, if you do this, you have to ask yourself why they need tools when they are already adapted to their environment).
     

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