In my scifi novel, all intelligent life eventually reaches what we might consider a humanoid form. Likewise, life on other worlds generally follows a semi-parallel evolutionary path, meaning that life generally takes similar (but not exact) forms from planet to planet. The major variances coming from key events in each planets individual history.

The event in this particular question would be the extinction of the dinosaurs. Although obviously dinosaurs dominated the Earth for millions of years, I'm mainly focused on the idea that if the dinosaurs had never gone extinct, the raptor might have become the dominant species of the planet. So onto the primary question:

If Raptors had evolved into a more humanoid form and become the dominant species on the planet, what might they look like? and what sorts of physical advantages/disadvantages might that include.

I am really trying to avoid the Egyption-esque appearance of a human body with a dinosaur head, and would like to take into account the fact that we now know raptors had feathers and some sort of fur like covering as well. Obviously there is only so much that we really know about dinosaurs and I'm definitely not an archaeologist, but I like to imagine that they could hear and see differently than we can. Not necessarily better or worse, but perhaps the could see light frequencies a little different, or they hear different sound frequencies.

These are just a few thoughts, but I really want to know what would be a more plausible outcome rather than just my own musings.

To clarify so that this doesn't become an argument of opinions, I am looking for answers with actually evidence to back them up. Comparing possible evolutionary changes to actually living creatures related to the dinosaurs (like birds and reptiles), siting theories on actual raptor physiology, reasonable explanations for changes in appearance and ability. I would then choose the one that sounds most realistic which will have a lot of information to back it up. So please no "humans with scales" or "snake tongues just because" type of answers. Sorry fans of Doctor Who's Silurians.


closed as too broad by Aify, jdunlop, JBH, Hohmannfan, sphennings Jul 29 '18 at 1:44

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    $\begingroup$ This question doesn't seem like asking for a solution to a specific problem, but rather triggering an opinion festival. How are you going to pick among the various possible answers? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jul 27 '18 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ So what is your question? $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jul 27 '18 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Just watch S3E23 of Star Trek: Voyager. $\endgroup$ – John Doe Jul 27 '18 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ Don't force evolution. (There's a reason that raptors evolved into chickens & turkeys, not humanoids.) $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jul 28 '18 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ Of the dozens of species on Earth thought to be capable of forming civilizations given time and manipulators, only one is humanoid. This would be a much more plausible body plan for a sapient theropod:pre00.deviantart.net/5ebf/th/pre/f/2008/319/c/5/… $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Jul 28 '18 at 21:07

This probably comes back to the 1980's "Dinusauroid", which was how a Troodont (the smartest known dinosaurs) might look after evolving to be more similar to humans. This article goes into a great deal of detail about it.

Some of the stuff in that discussion would work for you, some won't. For example yours probably wouldn't have a beak.

You seem to want it to have some sort of fur or feathers, but keep in mind human relatives have a lot more hair than humans do. So if you want something more similar to humans, we are probably talking small pieces of down spread over the body (like human body hair), combined with tufts of feathers in key places (perhaps the head, neck, and/or arms) for display and/or thermoregulation. I am thinking something along the lines of the northern troodons in dinosaur train (the one on the far right playing hockey).

Some things are more clear, however. Birds can see much better in the UV range than mammals, so your raptor probably would as well. They also have much better color vision overall (the ancestors of humans lost one of their color receptors, then evolved a new, inferior version later).

We would probably be dealing with three fingers on the hands and feet and, since theropods have two or three fingers. One would probably be modified for grasping, thumb-like. The long foot claw that is so famous in raptors would probably be reduced or absents since the body just isn't laid out on a way that makes it very useful.

Considering it is shared by essentially all theropods, including birds in a wide variety of habitats, are digitigrade (that is they walk on their toes, with what looks like their "knee" actually being their ankle), I suspect your animal would keep that as well. Even penguins which walk mostly upright keep this structure.

Whether it would be a carnivore or omnivore is probably more dependent on your story than anything. That will have a big impact on its teeth and claws.

If it has an upright posture it most likely won't have much of a tail, if at all. A big tail is only needed to balance out their body when the body is held horizontally.

Coloration would probably depend a great deal on how you want their culture to work and what sort of environment they evolved in. Do mating or territorial displays make sense to you? If so colorful feathers on the head, neck, and arms probably make sense. If not, then they probably don't. Are they from a hot or cool environment? That determines whether there are a lot of feathers or few. Did they evolve out in the open or in forests? Having feathers on top to protect from the sun makes more sense in the former situation than the latter.

  • $\begingroup$ If you want to see the closest thing you can get to an upright posture in therapods look at therizinosaurs. almost a right angle turn at the tail. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 28 '18 at 1:20

Would intelligent civilized dinosaurs look like humans? Probably not. We have lots of intelligent species to take as a sample; dolphins, whales, octopi, mice, even apes. None of these species look or act like humans. Even the apes do not really even though they are so closely related, for example they walk on all fours and have different physiology and lots of other significant differences like having more trouble swimming, etc.

The way humans look and act is unique to their evolutionary history living in the savannahs. Unless your intelligent species also evolved in the savannah, they are not going to look and behave like humans.

I would instead invite you to think about what characteristics are absolutely essential to creating a civilization. For example dexterous fingers/arms for tool manipulation and a good brain. Then let everything else freely vary by the history of the species you would expect.

Here is an example:

  1. The raptor evolved in Asia. They evolved into shepherds instead of farmers. Herding and maintaining some local animal was their civilized source of food. As such they still have very sharp teeth and very strong leg muscles (and maybe some limited flight to aid in herding).

  2. They developed tools to help them manage livestock. Be safe from angry livestock, keep them safe more easily from other predators, fight off other predators that are sometimes bigger etc. So their first tools were based around this.

  3. Communities sprouted up around these livestock farms, starting civilization. Commerce began to trade for livestock as food. So you get people starting to make other kinds of tools like shoes etc so they have more things to trade for food.

  4. In your first civilization you have medium sized dinosaurs with limited flight, feathers, big legs, the classic dinosaur head, typical dinosaur physique but longer arms and long fingers that are dexterous but probably less muscular than humans. They stand tall, but not upright because nothing shaped the up right walking.

I don't know if that helps. But think about how things got to where they are and why.

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    $\begingroup$ *Octopuses. Just kidding, kind of; both are correct at this point, I think. $\endgroup$ – John Doe Jul 27 '18 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ Excellent answer. I might go a bit farther and suggest they may continue to use the "Raptor" body plan and be largely horizontal, what the head and torso balanced by a stiff tail. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jul 27 '18 at 22:50

Any evolution is "adapt to the environment or die", think about the early stages where the only need was to hunt for food or become food.

This era comes to an end when the population grows too much and hunting is not an option anymore. This will happens either because the prey amount get reduced to a few species or the body adapts to accept other sources of food like vegetables.

The idea of vegetarian raptors does not seem very appealing, so I presume the option would be two different groups of raptors, the ones based on speed, strength and ferocity, predominantly carnivorous and another group that developed some sort of intellect and instead of perishing managed to hide, change habitat and produce their own food (livestock and farming to feed the livestock)

If these two groups get away from each other for a long time, the "carnivores" can even become cannibals and the "intellectuals" will adapt to a more humanized society (with rules, public functions, services, currency).

Their appearance will remain close, despite the size and the ability to use tools. Only the Intelectual group will develop some sort of language.

In a second phase, plagues will hit the groups and the ones that live in society will be prone to die from it a lot more due to the proximity and balance the populations again.

Regarding the capacity to see and hear, this will not change unless it is a matter of staying alive, that means it will work differently for the groups. The carnivores will rely on better senses like vision, hearing, sense of smell and the intellectuals on fine motor coordination and speech ability.

The third phase will be similar to what was our Industrial Revolution, where the intellectuals will once again rise creating machines that can work for them, while the carnivores will be even more powerful and instinctive, "killing machines" they will be the masters of hunting strategy, siege, and stealth.

The point now is to you to decide, which group will live (one, another or both)


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