February 16th, 2008


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Discussion (12)¬

  1. Adreth says:

    That is one freaked out deer.

  2. Domino says:

    That deer is just like, OMGWTFBBQ!!

  3. Iain says:

    Just got to say, that is a gorgeously drawn deer. Wonderful, wonderful.

  4. Spiegel says:

    Shadowchild’s thought processes are brilliant, but why can’t the deer talk like wombats, shrews and hyenas?

  5. TekServer says:

    But the rats (even the god-rats) and most of the lizards (except the skin-lizards) don’t talk. And I don’t think the fish talk, though cave-fish apparently can write graffiti …

    (I’m betting the moles don’t talk either … )


  6. Hunter says:

    I interpret the deer’s expression as “Oh my gosh, not this thing again!”

  7. Lupus says:

    It’s an interesting question, in any setting that involves talking, anthropomorphic animals, as to why some animals remain as animals.

    Ok, badly worded but you get my point.

  8. Ryn says:

    I get you Lupus…. Different rates of evolution? After all, working on the theories that we evolve from monkeys… We’re here, but monkeys still are, too.

  9. Arrkhal says:

    Monkeys are just as “evolved” as humans, they just went in a different direction.

    It is kind of weird that hyenas aren’t even smarter than they are, though. Evidence indicates that they’re one of the most intelligent and social carnivores on earth, rivaling even dolphins, which dolphin-lovers and wolf-lovers seem to hate for some reason. But still, competition with early proto-humans would’ve been fierce.

    Hyenas are distance-running predators. Humans evolved from fruit-eating tree dwellers, but then became a distance-running predator + distance-walking gatherer about 2 million years ago (compared to diverging from chimps about 6 million years ago, and australopicethines about 4.5 mya). And there’s a pretty substantial overlap in early human and hyena territories, preferred prey animals, and even hunting techniques in the parts of Africa where people still hunt that way.

    Hyenas, at least, have a definite excuse for the evolutionary arms race to have spurred them to sapience. There is evidence that interaction with early proto-humans did drive a couple larger hyena species into extinction, and who knows how smart those may’ve been?

  10. Rebecca says:

    Blind cave fish speak in limericks, I think it was mentioned early on in the series

  11. BunnyRock says:

    @ Arrkhal: yes, that’s always fascinated me too. To paraphrase from my as yet unpublished sci-fi novel, which as an homage to Ursula has a background event mentioned in passing which involves sentient Hyenas, here’s the characters thoughts on the matter of convergent evolution between hyena and man. (Given my novel had furries anyway, working it in wasn’t too much of a stretch)…

    ” The only way evolution could lower the infant mortality without getting rid of the unique plumbing, which is a result of the high testosterone levels that make them work well as hunters, would be to give birth even earlier, when the baby hyenas have even smaller heads. Early birth, requiring an extremely prolonged period of care and protection from the mother and other female hyenas working together for the under-developed young. Spotted hyenas’ already had social intelligence to rival most primates, this pushed them up to the same level of social intelligence as great apes and early hominids, and given many scientist feel that it is the prolonged childhood of humans that enables then to become great learners, it boosted all other areas of intelligence, meaning more food, the expensive tissue hypnosis comes into play, and before you know it you’ve hit a tipping point and you have bipedal sentient hyenas. Heck, normal hyenas: they’re Plantigrade anyway, just look at them, run and tell me it doesn’t look like those super-strong front legs are just itching to evolve into arms!”

    interestingly, when I started writing that book (before I had read Digger) there were no sentient hyenas, now sentient hyenas have ended up in that, and in my “his Dark Materials” Fanfic (the fun you can have with parallel worlds: steampunk humans vs armoured bears vs WWII era British commandos who happen to be bipedal spotted hyenas!) and in my PPC work (i really needs to put that up…) and in my RPG life, and are slowly working their way into everything I write whether I want them to or not! Ursula has hit upon an idea so good its infectious!

    And I couldn’t be happer.

  12. Arrkhal says:

    @BunnyRock: Sounds like that’s going to be an interesting read when it’s published!

    Though I feel compelled to nitpick a tiny bit. Pretty sure studies have found that female hyenas still develop their… uh… equipment, when given testosterone-blockers in the womb somehow. I forget how it was done.

    Earlier birth leading to higher intelligence is evolutionarily spot-on, though. There’s a very consistent correlation between how altricial the young are and how intelligent the adults are, when comparing reasonably closely related animals (birds to birds, mammals to mammals, etc.). Mechanism is unclear, but it’s a really strong correlation.