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Description

So fellas have you ever head of pig from hell, well if you haven't its called the Entelodont and it is an extinct pig like omnivorous mammal that resembles a giant boar. It is thought to be most closely related to hippos and is about 6ft tall. Entelodont

Question

Basically what I want to know is if a group of people could domesticate these animals, and use them for riding into war and for hunting. I'm thinking they would be like a mix between horses and dog (in physiology not psychology) as they they posture that would allow for riding like horses, but also have canine teeth and are omnivores like dogs. And as for them being like related to hippos well click here.

So could these creatures be domesticated or at least tamed?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see why it can't be tamed? Humans are able to tame all sorts of animals, just go to any zoo or aquarium and look at the animals perform, or those rich people who own pet Tigers or cheetahs and so on. The only thing is to figure out the time frame it would take place over and how expensive it will be. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee May 22 '18 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ They were herd animals so they could do it. Just make sure the animals see the human as the alpha. There is some thought that a few of the types in the family were scavengers, they might be easier to domesticate. $\endgroup$ – Dan Clarke May 22 '18 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ What tech level? $\endgroup$ – John May 22 '18 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee Yes, but note that taming is different to domesticating. A tamed animal is an individual accustomed to human presence. To domesticate, you must continuously breed individuals, often to the point of subspecification. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi May 22 '18 at 15:02
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Every animal humans want to domesticate must conform to a series of criteria. This is why we didn't domesticate rhinos instead of cattle, or lions instead of dogs.

To be domesticated, an animal must:

  • Have a varied diet and thus be willing to eat humans' scraps
  • Grow fast - the longer an animal takes to mature, the longer it takes to make it valuable
  • Be willing to breed in enclosed spaces in captivity
  • Be "pleasant". Yes, some domesticated animals like bison are aggressive, but we have to keep them in massive enclosures.
  • Be calm and "brave". An animal that runs away every time you step towards it cannot be domesticated.
  • They must have a flexible social hierarchy

So, to determine whether Entelodonts are a viable candidate for domestication, we must see if they comply with these points. Obviously, we don't know some things about them, so we should leave room for educated speculation.

For the first point, entelodonts are fine, since they are omnivores. Omnivores also tend to be opportunistic, so would eat food given to them by humans if they thought they were safe.

I've done some light research on all known Enteledont genera, but could not find out when they reached maturity. In this case, I will have to look to their modern relatives. Pigs reach maturity at 6 months, but growth rate will be different for carnivorous animals. The entelodont Archaeotherium was a predator that is thought to have cached kills, indicating a similar niche to the leopard. Carnivorous animals are usually more intelligent and "skilled" and therefor take more resources and time to raise. The leopard's maturity rate is considerably higher than the pig's, at 2 years. I think that's an alright amount of time, and anyway it will decrease after selective breeding.

Both hogs and modern terrestrial apex predators seem to be okay with breeding in captivity, so I will assume there's a yes to the third one as well.

This is where it gets tricky. I'm not sure if an entelodont would "be pleasant" with humans. But, if humans can domesticate wolves and half-domesticate bison, I wouldn't put it that far past them to do it to entelodonts.

There is little documentation I could find on entelodont behaviour, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that "They probably weren't skittish". Far larger than humans, with bigger teeth, I somehow doubt they would have much fear of us once they became accustomed to our presence.

I think that the last criterion is good with entelodonts too. All evidence indicates that they weren't highly social, such as scavenging, caching prey, omnivory etc.

Therefore, I think that entelodonts could potentially be domesticated. Domestication is a bit of a gamble, and it is never a guarantee that it will turn out right. But if we did domesticate entelodonts, what would happen?

The general rule is that domestication makes the species smaller and dumber. They don't need to find food, survive predators and other dangers, or really do anything except eat, sleep and breed. All that doesn't require much processing power to do, and bigger brains cost calories, too.

If you are domesticating the entelodonts for transportation, they will grow stronger. If you domesticate them for war, they will become more aggressive and less responsive to things that would normally distress them, like the death and loud noises of a battlefield. If you want them for aesthetic purposes, they will become more extravagant, or their hair will change colour, or their tusks will grow longer or whatever you want.

So, to summarise: Entelodonts could be domesticated, and they would change overtime depending on what you're breeding them for

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There is no way to answer this. Domesticability is primarily based on criteria that do not leave fossil evidence. The animal needs to engage in hierarchical social behavior (or be semi-social and group tolerant like cats) , they need a calm demeanor, and they need breed easily. All three of these are unknowns for entelodonts. You can't even make an educated guess based on relatives, horses and zebra are extremely closely related and yet one was easily domesticated and the other has not been to this day.

If you want to have domesticated entelodonts your story you can and no one can say its impossible.

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  • $\begingroup$ While looking for the youtube video explaining why we haven't domesticated Zebra yet I came across an picture of Lord Rothschild's Zebra-drawn carriage. It led to an interesting answer on Quora about the horse vs zebra question. It has some interesting takeaways for can vs should side of the debate. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps May 22 '18 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ taming is different and far less difficult than domestication, nearly anything can be tamed, but it is a large investment for only one animal. $\endgroup$ – John May 22 '18 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ That is very true. If the process of domestication involves brutal methods of taming, that is the could vs should side-debate I was referring to, rather obliquely. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps May 22 '18 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ "If" being the key term. It doesn't, taming is a one off event, domesticated animals do not need to be tamed, that is kinda the point. bears and elephants are tamed quite often but they are not domesticated becasue each generation needs to be tamed again. Taming does not lead to domestication. $\endgroup$ – John May 22 '18 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I do understand that. The OP has to decide how to justify using harsh methods to fully tame each animal in the many in-progress domestication generations for the end result of fully domesticated breed. Ie it's not necessary to tame fully each generation, but just enough so that you can handle the animals without fear of the Zebra (or other animal) biting off your hand or kicking you with both backlegs at once, while you direct which breed with which. That little amount of taming is helpful for the domestication process. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps May 22 '18 at 14:32
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Domestication doesn't follow the cuteness of the babies.

Domestication requires that the animal have herd instinct, rather fast reproduction rates and a docile attitude.

Boars and hippos are well known for their bad temperament:

Boar attacks on humans have been documented since the Stone Age, with one of the oldest depictions being a cave painting in Bhimbetaka, India. The Romans and Ancient Greeks wrote of these attacks (Odysseus was wounded by a boar, and Adonis was killed by one). [...] Actual attacks on humans are rare, but can be serious, resulting in multiple penetrating injuries to the lower part of the body. They generally occur during the boars' rutting season from November to January, in agricultural areas bordering forests or on paths leading through forests.

and

The hippopotamus is among the most dangerous animals in the world as it is highly aggressive and unpredictable. [...] The hippopotamus is considered to be very aggressive and has frequently been reported as charging and attacking boats. Small boats can be capsized by hippos and passengers can be injured or killed by the animals or drown.

Since we don't know about the Entelodont attitude, we can only guess based on its descendants.

I would say domestication would be difficult (mostly due to reproduction rate and aggressive attitude, as I assume they did have offspring rather slowly), but taming should be feasible.

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    $\begingroup$ An yet people domesticated boars. $\endgroup$ – John May 22 '18 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ If herd instinct was a requirement then explain cats? Domestication simply requires selective breeding to promote the traits you desire such as handling and obedience. $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 22 '18 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Thorne, humans have domesticated dogs. Cats have domesticated humans. Puns apart, cats are way less domestic than dogs. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch May 22 '18 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ In theory Hippos could be domesticated though, its purely that they don't offer a suitable mount for warfare so we assume it was never attmepted, it would take many generations to breed the aggression out though i will admit... oh and L.Dutch, cats have not domesticated Humans, that's ridiculous... sorry my cat made me write that... $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith May 22 '18 at 8:08
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Yes.

Any animal can be domesticated. Domestication is simply breeding the traits you desire such as docility, size, obedience or even the colour.

The Russians did a study on foxes and domestication See Man's New Best Friend

All it takes is time and patients...

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  • $\begingroup$ Patients pun intended? $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps May 22 '18 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ Note foxes were only domesticated with the help of modern technology and scientific understanding. $\endgroup$ – John May 22 '18 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Modern technology? Utter rubbish! It was run in a fox pelt farm and they did nothing more than measure the docility of the animals from the animals' reactions to humans and breed the most docile with the most docile. After about 30 years, the control foxes were just as hostile to humans and the domesticated foxes were happy and excited to see humans and would follow them like dogs. $\endgroup$ – Thorne May 23 '18 at 0:53
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Short answer - Domesticated, yes. Tamed, possibly.

Let's demonstrate with a few examples. Humans managed to domesticate dogs, which were initially, pre-domestication, wild and I'm assuming, feral. Same with horses, boars, cats - you get the idea. But domestication comprises of breeding in selective traits like docility and obedience and breeding out violent behaviour and brutality. Pack nature also comes into play - when you own a dogs, they obey you only after they accept - to some extent - that you are the pack alpha.
But if you are raising an animal for war, then the animal necessarily must have an aggressive nature. So what you want is an animal which has obedience bred into it, and a pack nature, and which accepts its owner as the alpha. But it also needs to hold onto some of its violent nature. Aggressive, not feral. So if you are going for a long-term process, you may be able to domesticate the entelodont.

Taming essentially involves cowing an animal into submission. Taming is a shorter process than domestication - it can be done within a single generation, while domestication stretches over multiple. Now tame might not be enough to ride into war - the kind of aggression required in a war beast may just as easily turn on the rider. It may work, though, if the animal is not particularly intelligent. I don't know about entelodont, but I do know that wild boars are one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom.

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Okay, i know i'm answering kinda late, but just looking at the back of that animal i can instantly see it won't be able to be ridden on. No animal with such a hunchback would have the strength to carry a human. If you want to use that animal for transport it first needs to be bred into a more stable condition with a flatter back.

Edit: Okay i know i didn't really answer the actual question OP asked, which for some very stupid i didn't think about, but when it comes to the question i don't see any reason why it couldn't be domesticated except maybe size. From the picture OP showed it looks enormous and one of the main factors in domestication is being able to consistently feed the animal, like one of the main reasons we don't have pet bears or tigers (excluding the fact about them being highly dangerous and not being pack animals) is that they need high amounts of food. Of course since it's your story so you could go the simple route and say that your society has an abundant of food, but if you want it a little bit more realistic you may have to shrink the animal a bit. I honestly don't know about their temperament, but i'll just assume it similar to boars, which were hard to domesticate, but we clearly have pigs so it obviously worked. Another factor is how quickly they mature which i yet again don't know so i'll just use boars as a template and since we have pigs today i'll just say that ones also checked. Basically everything except the feeding of the animal seems reasonable to me.

Hoped this answer was at least a little bit better than the previous i gave

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi Matheus, and welcome. It's fine to answer questions late; sometimes, a late answer can bring renewed interest in a question. However, in this case it seems to me that you aren't really answering the question, which (to my reading) is more about taming or domesticating the animal than it is about riding it per se (that's OP's goal, but not what they are asking about). That is likely why your answer was downvoted. You can Edit to expand on your answer, to better meet the question. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 1 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ While the question is objectively about domestication in general, the OP was pretty clearly talking about riding the animal. Addressing part of a fairly broad question seems reasonable to me. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Apr 1 at 20:33

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