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The difference between humans and most animals, is that animals usually have natural "weapons", by that I mean claws, powerful jaws with sharp teeth, horns, tusks, etc... Humans depend on their intelligence to survive nature, we craft tools, we plan strategies, and that has allowed us to become an ecological force. I mean, lions disappeared from Europe, mammoths went extinct, gorillas and whales are endangered, many apex predators have been sent to the abyss by humanity, despite our innate weakness when compared to them.

Humans really have few "natural" advantages when compared to animals, as far as I know, aside from our intelligence, which is by far the best weapon in nature, we only have a lot of stamina, shoulder made to throw and hurl things, and hands that allow us to be versatile.

So imagine for a moment that when the Homo Sapiens showed up in the world, he had "natural" weapons too, I thought of 3, but feel free to add others, the first being claws, a la wolverine, the second being a very powerful jaw, and the third being higher muscle density, almost as much as a chimp or a gorilla, also, notice humans won't have all three of them at the same time, that be overkill I think, they'd only have one of them.

So if humans had these biological means of defense, how well would we fare on nature, discarding technology and throwing us back to the beginning of the stone, would we be able to become top-notch predators, without having to resort on tools and well-thought strategies? And if we did, how would that affect our technological development, after all, it's said that necessity is the mother of innovation, and if humans didn't need to change to survive, then why change? But then and again humans are curious.

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    $\begingroup$ Humans are physically weaker than our closest evolutionary relatives, both in terms of raw strength, and in terms of how strong we are per unit muscle. This is a trait we evolved to be much more energy efficient and to support a much more caloricly hungry brain. We evolved to be able to hunt large prey without needing to be strong. The extra strength is extra weight to carry and extra calories to consume for no direct benefit to our hunting strategy. Its a solid strategy too traditional endurance hunting methods are great for allowing one human to take down a 600 pound kudu. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jan 3 '18 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Oh yes, absolutely correct, Tim B has told me that already, but if we were that strong than I don't think we'd be so dependent on our brain, or maybe we could just use our enhanced body to hunt with more effectiveness or with higher rate so we can get those extra calories, and as Laetus said, humans are omnivores, and we have a trait of carnivores that is "free time", many carnivores hunt once a day and slack for long hours, if we just hunted a little more often than maybe higher muscle density and a brain equal to our own would be plausible $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Jan 3 '18 at 6:42
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    $\begingroup$ No one and nothing has claws, a la wolverine. $\endgroup$ – Lee Leon Jan 3 '18 at 7:18
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    $\begingroup$ Humans actually do have a natural weapon of their own. Humans have lower muscle density than other great apes because humans are adapted to be long distance runners; the lower muscle mass of humans allows us to run while keeping our muscles oxygenated, instead of relying on the limited amount of muscle hemoglobin. Cheetahs can sprint 2 or 3 times faster than humans, but humans can run over a distance a hundred times longer. This was the natural weapon of our distant ancestors: very few animals on the savannah had similar endurance; our ancestors were the relentless pursuers. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 3 '18 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Jedboo, we typically advise that you wait at least 24 hours to accept an answer, to allow for people from all over the globe to post a reply. $\endgroup$ – bendl Jan 3 '18 at 17:47
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Ultimately, humans have two natural weapons that when brought to bear in concert are amazingly effective; the brain and the hand.

Claws would reduce the versatility of the hand for both tool building and weapons handling. Higher muscle density would require more blood to fuel, leaving less for the brain. A powerful jaw would only be useful at short range and would leave humans vulnerable to poisonous secretions and the like in every attack because every human attack would require 'skin' contact. All an enemy would have to do is put the secretions of poisonous snakes or toads on their skin (like sunscreen) prior to battle and you're in trouble.

Also, while it's not commonly understood, the human shoulder is almost purpose built for throwing. Being able to grip rocks, spears, and other projectiles means that humans can attack without speed; their speed is in the projectile they fire at their target.

All this means that the brain has enough blood to drive it, the hand is free of specialisation so that it can handle almost any item close to hand.

Humans can eat quite a diverse range of different foods by comparison to most animals, making it a generalist in that space. The hand is generalised, as is the leg and foot. We can train our bodies to be sprinters, endurance runners, rock and tree climbers; whatever we want. We can grip, use or throw almost anything. And we have a brain that can help us adapt to our environment within months, let alone a single lifetime, let alone the timeframes of evolutionary adaptation.

It is this generalisation (in this case lack of natural but more obvious weapons) that has made us successful as we can adapt to change and new opportunities where other animals can't. In that sense, the brain and hand are natural weapons that have to be the envy of the animal kingdom and the evidence is that they were superior to claws, jaws and muscles based on our current standing in nature.

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    $\begingroup$ @Jedboo; while you're right about the claws, they're still melee weapons; which would mean we'd have to evolve to run faster to catch our prey. Not having claws means that we can evolve to throw things, which takes less energy and is also safer when attacking dangerous prey as we are out of their reach while still able to inflict damage. It's that ranged attack capability which I personally think is more advantageous than claws. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jan 3 '18 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ Well, aren't humans great stamina runners, I've heard that humans would chase mammoths for hours and let it die by exhaustion, or attack it while it's slowing down, so humans could just keep up and close in with their prey when they get in range, and also, if an animal attack a human, chances are the latter won't be alone, humans have always been group hunters, we're social animals after all, if, say, a pride of 15 lions attacked a human, imagine if 50 guys showed up with sharp claws in their fists ready to get some feline meat. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Jan 3 '18 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ A stronger jaw would require a different skull for the larger muscles that would likely lead to a smaller brain - because that's pretty much our evolution in reverse. Looking at older apes you can easily see how the weakening of the jaw and the form of the skull and thus the brain codeveloped. I'd say the muscle density is the most useful, it's flexible in its application and the downside could be balanced with more or richer blood (requiring a higher intake of nutrients though). $\endgroup$ – Pahlavan Jan 3 '18 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Pahlavan Yes, the jaws really were a weak suggestion, but thanks for pointing it out man! $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Jan 3 '18 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @jebdoo humans used something called pursuit predation, a truly terrifying form of hunting where they tracked and followed a creature for days until it died from exhaustion or became too weak to fight back. Humans can maintain high levels activity only seen among ocean dwellers. Most felines require upwards of 20 hours of rest a day to avoid extreme exhaustion, a human can go for a couple of days if necessary. $\endgroup$ – spade Jan 4 '18 at 9:57
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Humans did have "weapons" (and in a way still do) - the gorillas (for instance) can defend themselves quite well. With time those "weapons" became less relevant (even counter-effective at times) and gradually declined.

Of course, those "weapons" are limited when compared to a carnivore (such as a lion), but that's just nature, carnivores will always be better equipped.

In fact, it is believed that the fact we are not carnivores (but omnivores) was highly important to our evolution. While herbivores spend much of their day eating food, and carnivores hunt fast and then are inactive for the rest of the day (one meat meal is enough), omnivores combine the best of two worlds. They do look for food (a challenge) but also have "free" time, and are otherwise far more versatile and flexible. Some evolutionists believe (see the link above) that those factors were crucial for humanity to develop intelligence.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't mean to be rude, but could you tell me what were those weapons, aside from stamina, shoulders that hurl things, versatility / adaptability, and most obviously intelligence. And I don't doubt your claims about our evolution, I believe you're correct, and either I don't have the intelligence to contest them, but I think you misunderstood the question, it's about how effective would these "natural" weapons, like claws, jaws, tusks, high muscle density, etc... Be for humans, and how would they affect our technological development. $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Jan 3 '18 at 6:24
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In Short: Not Significantly.

In Long: As covered by several of the other respondents humans evolved to not need such natural weapons. Setting that aside hypothetically if we did have some sort of natural weapon AS WELL as our other evolutionary advantages (Tool Use, endurance, etc.) one could reason that we simply would not use tools to do what we are naturally equipped to use.

For example if we evolved with canine like claws we could conjecture that the 'discovery' of the knife would be delayed until a knife was 'discovered' that preformed the duty of the claw better than the claw. As well, we probably would develop tools to counter claws earlier due to human vs. human conflicts.

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/So if humans had these biological means of defense, how well would we fare on nature/

We would fare worse, because more children would be killed by angry males.

Consider mortality risks for young among pretechnologic social animals. Death by male is a major cause for mortality among lions and many types of social primates including humans. With a longer period of physical immaturity, human children remain at risk longer.

Some of this mortality is a dedicated effort to kill and maybe eat the young. But a fair bit of mortality, especially among humans, is inflicted in a fit of rage. Combat-ready males are vital to defend against other conspecific groups that are similarly armed with males. Group hunters mean group raiders and the worst enemy of a human group is another human group. But having combat-ready males in a social group is like having a standing army in a society: they pose a risk. In modern day one needs only open the paper to read about boyfriend or stepdad who accidentally kills a kid with his hands in a fit of rage. And these are men are weak; it is less easy to kill with only our biological equipment.

When humans kill intentionally they use weapons which requires a modicum of planning or at least the intention to kill. By making us rely on weapons for killing, the risk for unintentional or heat-of-the-moment killing of kids decreases. Picking up a weapon means you are planning to kill and most boyfriends who kill kids are not planning to kill them. Making it easier for humans to suddenly rage kill mean more humans get killed and the easiest humans to kill are kids. Killing kids is bad for genetic fitness of your group. Making it harder for humans to kill accidentally in a fit of rage mean more kids grow up.

Humans worked around this in several ways, one of which being that it takes more effort for an angry male to kill with just his inborn equipment. Among other group-living mammals, elephants, lions and many non human primates have a different solution: hotheaded males live together at a distance from the young.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a very good point, but isn't it a little too specific, if you're correct, likely you are, than more children would die in the hands of men, but wouldn't these weapons help us survive attacks from other species, and wouldn't the latter event pose a much higher threat on the wild? $\endgroup$ – Jedboo Jan 3 '18 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Jedboo: it is a balance. It depends how big the risk from predators is in your environment. Consider (formidably armed) baboons: link.springer.com/article/10.1023/B:IJOP.0000019159.75573.13. Adults die from predation, infants are killed by adults. The benefit of natural weaponry depends on the risk from predators. For humans, natural weaponry must confer benefit over and above artificial weaponry. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 4 '18 at 11:56
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It is debatable whether humans with claws or poison teeth would have evolved into something different from modern humans. As it is pointed out by other answers, the added physical efficiency may reduce the brain capacity. Different physical capabilites may also have no effect on the life of a farmer, as the useless natural weapons become remnants and disappear over time.

When things get interesting is when there would be differently equipped subspecies of humans living in the same world. One probable outcome is segregation - think about how the vampires would be treated. Would you trust nation with poison claws? Or - how cool is it to have a friend who can jump 10 feet into air? So it can go both ways.

Something like this may have a precedent with homo sapiens and neanderthals. Nenderthals are speculated to have been stronger, with better eyesight and other traits that one could consider weapons. Somehow they still lost in competition against modern man, who, surprisingly has traces of neanderthal in their DNA. There are all possibilities for good drama.

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