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I'm working on a fictional plot, here's how it goes: A group of scientists go to explore an island that has recently been discovered. Once they get to the island they find dinosaurs. Yeah, dinosaurs that survived all those years. Now, as they go further into the island they start being chased by a primitive human tribe that was living there and was riding carnivorous dinosaurs, like raptors, spinosaurus, t-rexs etc. The crew escapes and leaves the island. Now my question, how could a tribalistic people manage to domesticate such large and aggressive creatures? Also, could they really domesticate them, or did they tame them somehow?

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  • $\begingroup$ Your question is very, very, very close to this question. I believe if you review that quesiton you can improve yours. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 12 '18 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ You have a fantasy premise here. Why do you care if this could be done realistically? Just do it. You didn't care if it makes sense that those creatures survived and remained unchanged for 60-90 million years on some somehow undiscovered but inhabited island either $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 12 '18 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of What dinosaurs could be domesticated? $\endgroup$ – John Aug 12 '18 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ It's impossible to predict which theoretical animals can be domesticated and which cannot. Only experience will tell. Example: Horses can, zebras cannot. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 12 '18 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ I'd like to point out that this question asks about how people could domesticate dinosaurs, while the question that is marked as a possible duplicate (this) asks which dinosaurs could be domesticated. In my opinion these are distinct questions, and no answers to the previous question would be good answers to this question. Therefore, I am voting to leave the question open, rather than closing it as a duplicate. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Aug 13 '18 at 1:15
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Dinosaur...

enter image description here

... it's what's for dinner.

We've already tamed dinosaurs at least once. There is no (good) reason why your hypothetical tribe of humans can't tame whatever kindred of modern dinosaurs inhabits their islands.

On islands you will not likely find huge t-rex type dinosaurs. Insular dwarfism will almost certainly bring them down to size. We've seen that with dwarf mammoths and dwarf hippos and even dwarf dinosaurs.

Lastly, keep in mind that most dinosaurs died out scores of millions of years ago. The dinosaurs that live in your islands will have evolved through the same millions of years that modern birds have. Maybe even to the point of convergent evolution: you'll have actual birds throughout the world, and pseudo-birds dominating these islands.

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  • $\begingroup$ He asked for large carnivorous dinosaurs, not for birds (which are the descendants of dinosaurs).... bbut did we really tame birds? Or are we just keeping them in cages? I never saw anybody taming fof example a Blue Cassowary $\endgroup$ – JulPal Aug 12 '18 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ Reality Check: "large carnivorous dinosaurs" will be an impossibility on a (relatively) small island. Basically if you have a population of huge apex predators, you need to have vast herds of sufficiently large prey animals for them to eat. And those prey animals need lots of plants and lots of space. T-Rex weighed something like 10 or 12 TONNES. That's a pretty big chicken! A sustainable population of T-Rex would simply run out of prey on an island environment. And yes, birds are dinosaurs. Theropods. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 13 '18 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ Avetheropoda to be precise... I'm vertebrate paleontologist :-) Tyrannosarurus bodyweight is estimated between 6 to 9 tons at the moment. And yes, you are right... Such predators will starve on a small island. Nobody denies that. But the OP asked for an island :-\ $\endgroup$ – JulPal Aug 13 '18 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ Right he asked for an island. He also asked for a "reality check" --- that's the little tag below the query text. I of course bow to your superior knowledge of the matter, but when a querent asked for a reality check, the respondent doesn't have to give him what he wants! He may want islands and he may want big dinosaurs, but what he's going to get a load of dead dinosaurs on an island; and by the time humans come around, it'll probably be a load of dinosaur bones a/o fossils! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 13 '18 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ Lol... Nobody wants you to bow... :-D your answer made my day :-) dead dinosaur island. I didn't mean to criticize you. Just wanted to discuss a bit. So if you felt criticized - sorry for that. I'll end the discussion now. $\endgroup$ – JulPal Aug 13 '18 at 22:55
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Carnivorous? Realistically, we have a roughly contemporary example:

There was a young; lady of Niger,

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger ;

They returned from the ride

With the lady inside.

And the smile on the face of the tiger" :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ We can however tame many other large cats, tigers are just very independent minded, AKA they absolutely will turn around and bite the hand that feeds them one day. $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 12 '18 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Ash: AFAIK, the only large cat that's been successfully tamed is the cheetah. Otherwise, like that guy in South Africa(?), who made the news a few months ago when his "tamed" lion mauled him: thesun.co.uk/news/6190594/… $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 14 '18 at 3:40
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The best way is if they developed some sort of symbiosis with them. Over time in confined areas reptiles have developed symbiotic relationships with birds. You just need to be creative on how it happened plausibly with your tribal people.

Tribal people domesticated all the animals we have today, so that bit is not an issue. We can tame some reptiles but it's a lot of work and best done with captive born. So it is possible to some extent.

But you're talking about huge monsters, so taming them as we do reptiles isn't an option because even tame reptiles will take a bite every so often if they feel like it. A T-Rex would make a messy bite, you couldn't just wear stout gloves and expect to get away with just a bit of a scare and perhaps an involuntary bowel movement.

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Yes, this is well within the realm of hard science fiction; it is not a fantasy.

We domesticated wolves; they are carnivores, and we domesticated cats, also carnivores. We have also domesticated hawks and other raptor birds for hunting; and birds are descended directly from dinosaurs. As for them being too dangerous: Dogs are not only capable, but actually do kill humans every year. This is often children, but a single German Shepherd or Pit Bull can bring down and kill a full grown and healthy man, and that doesn't keep us from playing fetch with them.

I say these things to indicate that just because a raptor can kill us, does not mean we cannot ever domesticate it. They have brains, based on skull cavities many raptors bordered on mammalian intelligence and may have been "trainable" and "tameable".

Probably like the wolf, the way to proceed is to raise them from babies (or eggs for dinosaurs), so they imprint on a human care-giver and then intentionally select the more docile and friendly offspring for breeding. This has been done with wild Foxes, which are quite unfriendly, and in a matter of a dozen generations their hostility has evaporated and they cuddle and play like puppies.

The modern Dog is genetically distinct from the modern Wolf; if you raise a wolf cub from puppy stage, it will never act like a dog. It will respond with aggression to eye contact, it cannot be trained, it will try to assert dominance, bite and snap, and will fight to death over being disciplined (for example, to house train it). A wolf cub, no matter how early it is spirited away from its mother, remains wild and untamed.

Domestication involves changing the animals by trait selection. When Darwin named his theory "natural selection", this was to intentionally distinguish it from the widespread and common practice used by farmers and breeders of selecting plants and animals for specific traits, which they called just "selection" or "trait selection". Like the wolf-to-dog transformation, your tribes could easily understand heritable traits, and use trait selection to raise from hatchlings tamer and tamer raptors, without sacrificing strength or teeth or speed.

I know a disabled woman, in a wheelchair, that owns a big wolf-hound dog as a service animal that could literally rip her throat out in a bite. The dog is harnessed to pull her wheelchair, through the halls of the university, through the streets, wherever. When she gives it commands, it obeys. A child can command a pit bull or a horse that could kill it.

A modern reptile is not very smart, I don't know if we could tame a crocodile. But a few early meat-eating theropods (raptors, including Deinonychus, the dinosaur model for Spielberg's Velociraptor) had a relatively high brain/body mass ratio that may have approached mammalian intelligence; so it is possible through that and imprinting on a human care-giver as their mother when they first hatched, they could have been bred for tameness and being human friendly. We humans have used imprinting in this way for centuries, and still do in some tribes that use, for example, bird raptors to hunt: The bird binds to a young care-giver that feeds it and literally lives with it and trains it (under adult supervision) for life.

Your premise is certainly well within the realm of hard science fiction; it is not a fantasy.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wolves are not (obligate) carnivores, they are omnivores. They are also social animals. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 14 '18 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I don't believe diet will make a difference in breeding for tameness. House cats are obligate carnivores, and we've tamed them enough to keep them as pets. And we have evidence Deinonychus hunted in packs, so some dinosaurs were also social animals. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Aug 14 '18 at 10:41
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    $\begingroup$ House cats are small, and thus can be kept around without much danger to humans. WRT diet, they can survive by catching & eating mice, rats, and such, as barn cats do today. (Consider that cat domestication has been going on for thousands of years, and is still far from complete - compare the way cats interact with humans to the way dogs & horses do.) Large cats, or other obligate carnivores, are much more likely to consider humans an item on their diet :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 14 '18 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Our cats (over a dozen in 40 years) have been affectionate toward humans; had mutual affection with our several dogs, and two of them have been quite trainable. I don't think your assertions are based in any science, they are just your opinion stated as if it were fact. But you are entitled to your opinion. It won't change mine. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Aug 15 '18 at 10:30
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Can one tame crocodiles? No. Can one tame dinosaurs? Definitely no. All reptiles are opportunists.

And besides this... What's the benefit for a big carnivorous dinosaur from letting delicious little bits of food ride on his back? Is this some prehistoric version of meals on wheels?

The only chance is feeding them so much meat that they are totally saturated and too lazy to hunt ;)

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