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Most of us live in big cities where we hear unnatural (mostly unpleasant) sounds, created by things we've made ourselves. We hear less natural sounds like birds' songs or other animals making sounds, day by day.

Back to my question:

If we were to live in a world where all other animals, excluding ourselves, were created mute, what would happen to us, physiologically and/or psychologically?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding. Please take the tour and visit the help center. I am afraid your question is open ended and too broad. Can you try to narrow it down to a well defined problem? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 12 '18 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Hello dear L. I think it's narrowed enough to two things: physical and|or mental effects of animals being silent on human being. i can't imagine it in any other way. If you've got any suggestion, please write it down for me and I shall edit my question, thank you. $\endgroup$ – Merlot Latterian Sep 12 '18 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ We'd all be dead if we couldn't hear predators back in the beginning. We were a prey species for a long time. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Sep 12 '18 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean silent like mute, or silent like "I can't hear the heard of buffaloes charging at me because they are sneaking"? $\endgroup$ – DarthDonut Sep 12 '18 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ I think that "silent" has to be interpreted as "mute", since the idea of magically sneaky animals doesn't make that much sense. $\endgroup$ – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Sep 12 '18 at 9:25
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Well, given that we wouldn't be used to hear the sounds of animals, we wouldn't perceive such sounds as "natural" in the first place. Silence would be more natural to us, meaning it wouldn't cause distress to people. In contrary, noises might appear to be more disturbing in general.

Evolutionary speaking it could cause two things:

  • Either hearing becomes much weaker or non-existent (thus verbal language might develop differently, if at all), given that the required level of sophistication would become too high in order to be not obsolete,
  • or hearing becomes even more sophisticated in order to hear the rather silent animals (thus verbal language can be more quiet), as of evolutionarily competing with silence.

However, you have to remember that some sounds like footsteps, crushed leafs and wood will still occur and might be relevant to be heard. Increased body size will usually cause more noise, and for humans to hear other humans approach might be quite relevant. So we have to assume animals do not only not make voices for communication, but use methods to minimize all other noises they make.

And given that communication is an integral part to humans and their evolution, it could go up to the point where our cognitive development could be delayed by thousands of years compared to today and extend the phase of our existence in which we didn't start to create civilizations yet (if at all). Unless you assume that humans themselves have no changes to their sound generation (which would be indeed "unnatural" in the world you are suggesting), then that wouldn't apply of course - but they would still have to be adapted to their rather silent environment.

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Hearing would still be a thing, since I'm assuming animals would still produce sounds by moving around; also, enviromental sounds would be still relevant to everyday life in the wild. After all, most predators aren't exactly used to alert their prey with unnecessary noises (compare this with how most felines sneak around before pouncing on the prey, and how wolves howl to communicate between the pack, certainly not with the prey).

It would be interesting to determine how human can speak, while animals do not. From an evolutionary standpoint, if no one has ever developed vocal chords before, it's difficult to imagine them come up with the "homo" genus.

Maybe there is an additional link in your human evolution, bringing the "homo loquentes" (speaking man) somewhere between the austolopitecus and the homo habilis (developing vocal chords and the brain power to use them is no small task; also, that brain power would then come in handy for the "habilis" species; but I guess you could as well place the loquentis between habilis and erectus, if you prefer).

But what about our ancestors? Chimps in our world use both verbal and non-verbal communication. In yours, they would use only the latter (meaning facial expressions, gestures, stances, and so on). We can still imagine sound being used to some extent (like, tapping a foot or a finger against an object to refer to it, or deliberately making a fuss to signify anger). Since non-verbal communication would play a major role in all the animal world, to compensate for the lack of voice, we can assume that we humans would have this, too.

So your variety of homo sapiens sapiens would be able to talk like we do, but I suspect they would rely even more on non verbal cues. The part of the brain responsible for recognizing facial expressions and making them would be even bigger, and we may have even a greater control of our facial muscles (e.g., being able to move our ears, or our eyebrows to a greater extent, would be common skills). Posture and hand gestures would play a bigger role in day-to-day life.

Psychologically, we would probably dislike strong noises, like shouting out, considering them even more rude. Moreover, maybe we would feel even more different from animals, the homo genus being the only one capable of speech and verbalization. Creationists would have another argument under their belt, pointing out how animals cannot speak, nor produce sounds. Studying animal behaviour would be more difficult.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow! Interesting! $\endgroup$ – Merlot Latterian Sep 12 '18 at 10:53

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