I have heard that in order to be domesticatable, the animal has to satisfy the 4 F's:

  • Friendly
  • Fecund
  • Feedable
  • Family-oriented

Okay so let's narrow this down. All dinosaurs would fall under Fecund because a single dinosaur can lay up to 30 eggs at a time. Long maturity but lots of eggs. But even the biggest dinosaur eggs would not be much bigger than a basketball, otherwise, the dinosaur inside wouldn't be able to breathe.

Feedable narrows things down further to herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores up to the size of Utahraptor.

So these dinosaurs would be feedable:

  • Triceratops
  • Stegosaurus
  • Utahraptor(carnivore about the size of a human)
  • Eoraptor(small, possibly an omnivore)
  • Ornithomimus(omnivore)
  • etc.

Family-oriented, that's hard to say but almost all herbivores would fall under family-oriented.

Friendly, again, that's hard to say but I think all herbivores would fall under friendly, not so sure about the omnivores and smaller carnivores though.

But what dinosaurs would fall under the 4 F's and thus be domesticatable?

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    $\begingroup$ We domesticate or keep as pets birds and small reptiles now that are the closest species to dinosaurs that survived to overlap any "homo" species. All the other dinosaurs became extinct before humans appeared, so I'm at a loss to know what answer to give other than "what is in the local pet shop". We know practically nothing about the social interactions of dinosaurs so how "family friendly" they might be is essentially primarily opinion based. You really need to more precisely define what you mean by the 4-Fs and "domesticate". Also what period of human evolution will this relate to ? $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 16 '18 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ You don't want a carnivore the size of a human, you want it smaller. A dog can already overcome an unprepared human, imagine if it was the same size of a human. On top of this, I am afraid the answer to this would still be primarily opinion based. The few we know about social behavior in dinos is based on reconstruction and conjectures and is not really reliable... take the hippo... it's gregarious and herbivore, but a nasty beast... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jun 16 '18 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ For the purpose of worldbuilding, this is not a good question. Dinosaurs are extinct, save those who adapted and integrated into the current fauna, but at that point they have gone too far to set a good example for your question. $\endgroup$ – Valerio Pastore Jun 16 '18 at 6:12
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android, I agree. But I think a carnivore with size comparable to a human is a nasty business to deal with. Take a big dane, make him a tad more aggressive, and imagine the consequences... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jun 16 '18 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Dogs like humans are omnivores. Cats are closer to carnivores than are dogs. But a cat the size of a dog would be formidable & dangerous. Domesticating any carnivore, let alone a dinosaur, the size of humans would be too difficult & dangerous. We tend to think of dinosaurs as monster size when many dinosaur species were tiny. We just love big dangerous things. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jun 16 '18 at 8:11

Bird are part of the dinosaur clade, and hence are dinosaurs themselves... and chickens are a good candidate for a domesticated dinosaurs because it is well, domesticated. Chickens are friendly, fecund, feedable and family-oriented too, so perfect candidate.

Chickens are friendly unless you poke it beyond return ( they usually try to avoid you then)

Chickens are fecund because they lay a lot of eggs

Chickens are feedable as you can feed them seeds

Chickens are family-oriented as you can raise it with your family.

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  • $\begingroup$ This should be marked ad the correct answer. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Nov 16 '18 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ Yet there are hundreds of thousands of other birds we have not domesticated. by your logic, rhinos and wolverines are domesticable because sheep were domesticated and all are mammals. $\endgroup$ – John Nov 17 '18 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ But John you see, I never mentioned that all birds are domesticated, I only mentioned that all birds are dinosaurs hence chicken can be called a dinosaur (an avian yet mostly a flightless dinosaur). $\endgroup$ – Persivefire Dec 24 '18 at 15:14

There is no way to answer this. Domesticability is primarily based on criteria that do not leave fossil evidence. Three of the biggest factors are complete unknowns. 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 dinosaurs. 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. You are correct that dinosaurs are more fecunded than mammal so you have that working for you.

If you want to have domesticated dinosaurs your story you can and no one can say its impossible. There is however a few that can be eliminated; predators larger than humans are out becasue they would be far too dangerous and anything that has a generation time longer than the human one is out because it takes to long to get any use out of them but other than that you can do as you please.

Keep in mind how you define their behavior will have an impact, if you define dinosaur X in your story as temperamental and solitary then you should not have them domesticated as well.

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  1. This is a slightly different take on the answer by Persivefire about birds. It depends on finding dinosaurs that are the ancestors of geese or ducks.

It involves the process of imprinting. Individuals have used this to convince hatchling geese that they are the chick's parent with some spectacular results.

Biologist is Real-Life Mother Goose


Of course you would want to choose a non-predator.

  1. Additionally predators can be selectively bred relatively quickly, as I mentioned in a comment above. I've reproduced it here.

In fact domestication doesn't necessarily take centuries. Wild Siberian Foxes have been domesticated by selective breeding in this experiment which started in 1959 and got good results quite quickly. "People who have tried to simply tame individual foxes often speak of a stubborn wildness that is impossible to get rid of. ... However, one extraordinary experiment has found a way to domesticate foxes." http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20160912-a-soviet-scientist-created-the-only-tame-foxes-in-the-world .

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Domestication is a process that evolves through centuries, and it must exist a background reason for that. Humans choose to domesticate an animal for their milk, meat, skin, eggs, for security (a guardian dog, for example) or company (you will not likely eat a cat, but you could eat a chicken. Both were domesticated for different reasons). You will need to create a background for the domestication: "why" humans would like to domesticate dinosaurs?

Besides, take in consideration the fact that there is not completely needed any of the "Fs" you mentioned. You can have a tiger in a cage as a pet (illegal in some countries, of course). Or have a bird as a pet (in a cage also). Both are in a cage, but if you left the cage door open, one of the animals will fly away and the other will eat you.

Circus used to have trained animals (zebras, tigers and lions for example) that are usually not domestic animals, but have enough intelligence to understand the fact that when they perform certain behavior, they get a prize or a punishment, and therefore they react. If you consider (in the scope of your history) the possibility of training a dinosaur (even perhaps not so domesticable), you could choose an intelligent one: I would suggest the Troodon (also know as Stenonychosaurus). It had the biggest brain-body ratio, and (without any other evidence) it may suggest a higher intelligence. Besides, it was (more or less) the size of a big dog. More details about the Troodon in this link:
Troodon size comparison

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    $\begingroup$ intelligence is often not beneficial for a domesticated animal, intelligent creatures tend to have their own opinions about what they want to do, instead of doing what you want them to. also cats were not domesticated for company they were bred for pest control. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 16 '18 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ For something as big as dinos, I would look to cattle (meat) or horses (transportation) for a model. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jun 16 '18 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ In fact domestication doesn't necessarily take centuries. Wild Siberian Foxes have been domesticated by selective breeding in this experiment which started in 1959 and got good results quite quickly. "People who have tried to simply tame individual foxes often speak of a stubborn wildness that is impossible to get rid of. ... However, one extraordinary experiment has found a way to domesticate foxes." bbc.co.uk/earth/story/… . $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Nov 16 '18 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ Domesticated animals have much smaller brains than their nearest wild cousins, so a dumb dinosaur may be a better choice than a smart one. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Aug 21 at 22:28

I think the best answer is really just to assume, at first, that all dinosaurs can be domesticated, and then apply an elimination process and work with that, as there's no way of knowing directly. you can eliminate:

  • Any carnivore larger than a human
  • Any dinosaur that lived in isolation
  • And dinosaur that has a longer life span than a human

Also, consider reasoning. We domesticated dogs to hunt with, cats to catch our rats, horses to labour and to ride, cows and sheep etc. for food.

Only herbivores can be bread for food, as for carnivores, it would be more efficient to just eat whatever you're feeding them (2nd law of thermodynamics says this); and only herbivores can be ridden, as you can only ride a species that's larger than you.

Only carnivores can be used to hunt with or for pest-control, and as hunting goes, only relatively intelligent pack animals (I think a raptor would fit this category)

Also bear in mind that since dinosaurs had hollow bones, ridding them would be a problem as they'd probably struggle to bear the weight of anything that didn't have hollow bones.

Edit: For clarification: to be feedable, a species has to reproduce quickly, and has to eat abundant vegetation (note that dinosaurs went extinct before the existence of grass).

To be ridable, a dinosaur would have to be significantly larger than a human, and be intelligent enough to respond to commands (I don't think any dinosaur would fit this category)

Only pack animals can be used for hunting, as others cannot cooperate.

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  • $\begingroup$ Also consider the fact that domesticated animals are, by definition, selectively bread. Consider how humans might have bread the dinosaurs to be more friendly, produce more meat, etc. $\endgroup$ – Callum Rae Aug 21 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! You don't need to add comments to your own answer: just edit it into your answer and delete! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 21 at 22:48

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