Imagine a situation kind of like Zootopia with many different creatures all living in one environment, some significantly larger than others. These species aren't necessarily furries like in Zootopia, but you still have size difference such as an elephant vs. a mouse where one species is a hundred times the weight of the other.

All the the species are equally as intelligent and competent, save for physical differences, and the environment has been built with some attempt to accommodate all species.

These species have been living together for over a century, and in that time their technology has developed to a level generally similar to, or ever so slightly greater than, our own. For now, assume that lifespans are somewhat similar (the 'Elephant' likely will live a good 10 to 20% longer then a mouse, but our 'Mouse' species still get a good long life, unlike actual mice).

It would be great if all these species lived together in harmony, but that's not how life usually works out. Humans have always taken any advantage they have had, in numbers, size, or superior technology, to put themselves in a position of power over other groups, we have seen that in interactions between races, nations, and sexes. We have gotten better at it lately, but the tendency is still there.

If these creatures in our theoretical Zootopia like structure are still human like, they will still likely compete for positions of power, and with species being such a significant divider they will likely rally around similar species and ultimately some species will try to take power over the other. Now they may not completely dominate and abuse the other species, but likely one species, or group of species, is going to tend, on average, to be in positions of more power or wealth or otherwise have some degree of 'privilege relative to the others. I'm trying to figure out who gets to be top dog (...pun not originally intended, but approved of).

At first glance it looks like your 'Elephants' would clearly be the ones to dominate, their vastly superior size and strength would allow them to physically dominate over smaller species and force their will on the smaller creatures. If this were during the dark ages, with feudal nobles and peasants, they likely would rule by virtue of physical strength.

However, in the modern era the 'mouse' starts to have some advantages. With more and more of our jobs being intellectual, or service, positions that require limited physical strength the mouse becomes able to work and earn profits as well as the elephant in many situations. A mouse can answer phones in a call center or program just as well as the 'elephant' can. However, being so much smaller they have far less needs, they eat less, can live in much smaller homes, and generally can live off of a fraction of the expense something as large as an elephant would need.

This could mean the 'mouse' can work for a fraction the pay and put the 'Elephant' out of a job, or maybe the 'mouse' works the same amount and simply has a far larger disposable income after covering their basic living expenses. Either way this puts the 'mouse' in a much stronger economic position.

Since they will live in some form of a democracy now the much larger number of mice to elephants alive would give them a stronger voting block as well. Then again the 'elephants' were likely in a stronger political position a century ago when all these species came together to form a democracy and shared living spaces, since their technology wasn't as advanced and the physical strength of larger species put them in a stronger negotiating position. Perhaps the elephants insisted that their constitution adjusted voting power by species in some manner to compensate for smaller species outnumbering larger ones to avoid small species having such a dominate voting block?

So ultimately which species ends up on 'top' in a modern multi-species living environment, the very large, or the very small?

  • $\begingroup$ What about their intellectual capabilities? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jul 20 '19 at 3:15
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ It is surely well known you either end up with a Lemur King (Madagascar) or the Pigs take over (Animal Farm). :-) It could be worse - the hairless monkeys could be in charge. $\endgroup$
    – StephenG
    Jul 20 '19 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenG But who wins in a head-to-head matchup of pigs vs lemurs??? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Jul 20 '19 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM Can't see a pig out dancing King Julian. No contest, really. $\endgroup$
    – StephenG
    Jul 20 '19 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ The Mice. They simply have tons and tons of kids and skew the voter base in their favor. All smaller animals would have this advantage. Using physical aspects would lower the value of small species effectively making them secondary citizens as the power of an individual mouse is no longer equal to an elephant. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Jul 24 '19 at 5:23

It doesn't matter

Both will be able to get manual labor jobs unavailable to the other. The elephant will be favored for jobs requiring strength while the mouse will do better with jobs requiring fine detail. But neither of those jobs will pay well.

The best paying jobs will be those that require thinking. Unless the physical size comes with different abilities when thinking, those will be divided evenly. Because size doesn't matter when thinking. Only a speciesist would say differently.

Thinking jobs tend to have such a high multiple that differing salaries don't matter. Everyone will tend to make about the same. So the more advanced the economy, the less it matters whether someone is mouse or elephant. The mouse might be able to live a little more luxuriously, but even there, it's not really size that determines costs in monopolistic (brand) competition. A nice cheese costs more than a bale of hay, even though it's much smaller.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Consider that an elephant can build a house in a few days, that a mouse will spend 30 years paying a mortgage on. Right now, thinking jobs make more because they are harder to fill. If anyone can do thinking jobs, but only a small % of the population can do heavy labor, then market forces will drop the salaries of thinking jobs and raise the salaries of heavy labor; especially if you can "outsource" all thinking jobs to little mice people who don't need as much money to live comfortably. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 24 '19 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Both mice and elephants will spend about the same amount of time building their own houses. Yes, elephants can build a given size more quickly, but mice can live in smaller houses. And I wouldn't call half the population a small percentage. What I would call a small percentage is the number of jobs that require direct physical labor. For example, modern construction involves a lot of machinery. A mouse is just as good as an elephant in operating a bulldozer, as the machine does the work. $\endgroup$
    – Brythan
    Jul 24 '19 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ but an elephant does not need a bulldozer to make a mouse's house. He is the bulldozer, the dump truck, the concrete mixer, etc. Even a mouse with mouse sized construction equipment could not compete with an elephant. Mice may still be needed to do some of the detail work, but by in large, an elephant with some link-in logs can do with his hands in 10 minutes what a mouse construction crew with heavy equipment would spend weeks on. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 24 '19 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ That's incorrect. An elephant couldn't manipulate human-proportioned Lincoln Logs. They would be too small. And elephant-proportioned would be too big to make a mouse's house. And if you think it would take a mouse construction crew weeks to use heavy equipment, obviously you've never seen heavy equipment in use. You may not realize that there's no reason mice would be limited to mice-sized bulldozers. A mouse could drive an elephant-sized bulldozer so long as it had mouse-sized controls put at a reasonable vantage. $\endgroup$
    – Brythan
    Jul 24 '19 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ It's not just about the size, but the dexterity. Hands are neurologically tied to your proprioception and sensory biofeedback systems allowing you to manipulate much more quickly and accurately than you could with a manually operated machine. This is the main reason why assembling models is so much faster than at scale construction. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 29 '19 at 7:53

At our tech or slightly better? It will matter most which species is in control of the robots. Physical differences among humans are becoming less and less relevant over time as our tools improve.

Given disability access in more and more nations, medical devices to restore or augment the body, and mass manufacturing creating specialized tools... it’s all coming down to brain power and patent lawsuits and intellectual piracy in the short term. In long term, once the robots really get going, it doesn’t matter who is smartest: the tech only has to be invented once, then anyone can run it. Assuming the robots still take orders, whoever controls the robot army wins. And if the robot army DOESN’T take orders, well, then we are all equal (and dead).


When we think of discrimination, we often think about populations being forced into poverty, but there is also the inverse where it leads to populations that are forced to rise as high as they need to too survive.

In the middle ages, Jews were barred from many industries, which forced them into high paying financial sectors. This made them become more rich and influential because they were discriminated against. Another example is that men typically make more money than women doing jobs that make them less happy. Employers tend to prefer women for jobs that offer more interpersonal fulfillment, flexibility, and light duty labor. In response, men are forced to compete over the left-over jobs that either no one wants or are harder to get into because it's their only option. However, many of these jobs come with more pay because of the associated risk factors, unpleasantness of duties, or longer learning curve.

So how does this affect our mice and elephants?

Elephants need bigger more expensive homes, cloths, furniture, etc. This means that when an employer is hiring for a simple job like a receptionist or fast food worker, they can offer less money than the elephant can survive off of and a mouse will happily take it. The mouse can live in luxury off of that salary and never need to worry about pushing further in his career.

So after fighting tooth and nail to find a job that can support his family, the elephant will raise his children with constant lessons about how important it is to do well in school, fight for labor rights, etc. so their kids can avoid that hardship while the mice parents who've never struggled for survival will encourage their children to do what makes them happy.

As this pattern goes on, stereotypes will emerge where people will be more willing to hire elephants in high paid positions under the assumption that "elephants just make better lawyers, managers, investors, etc." Being forced into a culture that cares more about money and power, the elephants will likely hold a disproportionate political and economic influence for their population. Once elephants hold a strong position in the democracy, they will fight for it by any means necessary, and they will win. This is because to the mice, that power is a luxury, but to the elephants, it is survival. This will lead to the dominance of elephants, not because they are naturally better, but because they are forced to be.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't think I agree with your real-world examples, but your reasoning applied to mice and elephants is very interesting, specifically because of the difference in costs of living. How would you project the development over a longer time period? Would the mice be likely to become "consumers" (no real say but, collectively, lots of disposable income) or could their greater savings (as knowledge work reduces the pay gap) compound to give them an edge? And how would, say, a fifth-generation elephant, who grew up with powerful parents, think? I.e. would the elephant dominance continue forever? $\endgroup$ Jul 24 '19 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ In a human context, the dominance ebbs and flows because once you have power, the force that put you there stops being a need. This is why wealth rarely lasts for more than a few generations, because grandkids never understand the motivation of their ancestors to rise up. But, for the Elephants, that need will continue from one generation to the next. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 24 '19 at 15:56

I feel like it could end up like Zootopia after all. Not exactly as it, but pretty much parallel to it.

Since your example is solid, I assume you remember the world setting of that movie. Animals were equal in law, but "predators" were socially superior, getting leadership positions and "aggressive" jobs more. It's pretty similar to our world, where in most countries everyone is lawfully equal, but in multi-cultured areas such as North America, white men still lead all fields that are seen powerful, whereas people of colour, as well as women, need to struggle a lot more to be seen on top.

(Disclaimer: the political comment is made to get to my answer's point and not to express an opinion or start a discussion on the matter. That is not the point of this post.)

So, your civilisation might have put one of these groups in favour in the past - perhaps "Elephants" if they once valued wars like we humans did, or even "Mice" if you can set up an advanced technology of ancient times to make that happen; either way, you can set up a modern world such as ours where they are supposedly equal beings but the bias is still there, "racial" stereotypes and expectations thrown around, and a power imbalance only exposed by statistics.

Or you could have a constant war where these races live separately, so they lack some of the advanced tools/technology other community might have, and they fight with what they have, forever hating and lowkey fearing each other.

As a side comment - I want to mention that, in case of a civilisation where "Elephants" and "Mice" live mixed and together, I feel like your "Elephants" would be more likely to win the racial superiority in the beginning of intelligent history. It's of course possible to come up with many ways "Mice" could have that superiority, but in the beginning of civilisation where little technology is available, being able to literally squeeze out the competition could come handy.


In my opinion, the rats would win. Because, the larger numbers, the better chances for evolutions, ideals, inventions, etc ... even with lower rate.


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