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I’m planning on writing another story as well, but I’m further into the concept of this one.

It takes place in a fictional prehistoric age that combines elements from the Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleocene, and Eocene.

Basically, there are sentient dinosaurs with a society that functions similarly to feudal Japan, and has a roughly equal technological level.

While most works of fiction have only a single sentient species of dinosaur, I would like to have several, with some being herbivorous, and others being carnivorous.

My real question though, is this. Could herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs cooperate, and if so, could they live together?

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect looking at how different races of humans have, and have not, gotten along would be a good starting point. $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Nov 11, 2019 at 17:41

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You're asking two really diametrically orthogonal questions here: would they? versus could they?

This article describes how birds, basically modern dinosaurs, cooperate across species boundaries in a variety of ways. So, the answer to "could they" is a definite yes, you could create species of non-avian dinosaurs that cooperate.

The other question, "would they", is a rather heavily qualified maybe-possibly-probably-not-but-on-the-other-hand... Your proposition is cooperation between one species that is basically dinner for the other species. That said, science fiction certainly, and probably even fantasy, have dealt with this very issue of cooperation between obligate carnivores and omnivores / obligate herbivores.

That said, the only correct answer to the second question is: it's your world, you make up the rules! Narrative necessity will probably also have a hand in your decision making process as it would be an excellent plot conflict moment when the fresh meat freezers break six weeks into a two year deep space mission...

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Generally speaking, creatures evolve to meet the specific conditions of their environmental niche, and the less overlap there is, the less "friction" or com[petition between the species. Carnivores in the African savannah generally specialize on a particular type of hunting method or prey, but even then there are enough areas of overlap so we see things like lions and hyenas fighting over prey or driving each other away from kills.

Humans may be a special case, since Homo Sapiens can use intelligence and technology to adapt to any earthly environment (the Ancestors did this with just wood and stone tools and fire, literally walking around the world and not letting small things like megafauna, mile high glaciers or oceans stop them). Interestingly, only Homo Sapiens remains from all the various hominid species that co existed with us, suggesting that there can be only one species in our niche. The Ancestors may not have exterminated them, but simply out competed Neanderthals, Denisovians and other possible cousins in any environment they shared. We know the Ancestors were the original party animals, since we still carry small amounts of DNA from our hominid cousins in our DNA.

This suggests that if we shared the world with other intelligent species, they would have to live in entirely different environmental niches, such as whales and dolphins.

For the intelligent dinosaurs, many of the same factors would apply. Intelligent dinosaur species might coexist in different environments, and the interaction between them might resemble encounters with spirits - the beings from the "other places" behave in interesting and amazing ways, and can sometimes be enticed to trade unique and unusual items, songs or "art".

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Yes of course. Societies can overcome all sorts of differences and accept outsiders if there is a strong enough cultural, religious or political bond to counter bigotry.

There is no reason to think this could not transcend species boundaries. Humans live happily alongside wolves (who could predate humans) and horses (who we predated) with plenty of loyalty and affection on both sides. There is no reason to think such a relationship would not work equally well with intelligent species, especially given a few million years of adaption.

Of course bigotry, prejudice and violence are equally likely.

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I doubt very much that the herbivores and the carnivores would be able to coexist peacefully. Mankind does not provide an encouraging example. Even different varieties of the same species of humans fight between themselves over religion, race, land and possessions.

Creatures so diametrically opposed as carnivores and herbivores would be hopelessly ill matched to get along on peaceful terms.

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Yes, they could.

There seems to be an assumption that the herbivorous dinosaur would be prey for the carnivorous dinosaur, but that may not be the case. There may be any number of reasons why the herbivorous dinosaur may not be a prey animal but, taking into account the context in which the question is asked, the likely reason is that there is mutual benefit in them co-operating with each other. Admittedly, the benefit to the herbivore may well be in not getting eaten, but the herbivore could also be naturally big and strong and therefore not only be difficult to overcome, but also useful for other purposes.

It is also possible that the herbivores are more intelligent and organised in to an agricultural society. They are not necessarily peaceful though and an agricultural society needs land, so there might be conflicts to expand their territory. A well-trained but essentially aggressive carnivorous foot soldier might be seen as very useful, not least because of the advantage of reducing the need for the provision of food to the troops in battle.

It's all a matter of using your imagination.

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In general they could cooperate at least to a degree. Of course the natural difference between them could be interesting to add to your story. Do something unpredictable like militant vegetarian dinosaurs trying to force carnivores to eat a plant based diet.

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