So, in my story, there is a species called the Telenoids. They have the ability to induce auditory nerve impulses so powerful they cause intense headaches and severe pain to nearby targeted non-telenoids. My question is, what evolutionary reasons might the Telenoids face in order for this ability to become a thing, rather than normal methods of defense?

(It feels good to be back after a near 2 year hiatus)

  • $\begingroup$ This is really more sound-based attack than actual Telepathy - consider changing the name of your question. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Dec 15, 2019 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Halftgawed: It is a Telepathic attack. It only effects the directed individuals $\endgroup$
    – Bryan
    Dec 15, 2019 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand. Are you saying that they can project soundwaves at certain individuals without affecting others, or are you saying that they can create the impression of loud noises in other creature's minds? $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Dec 15, 2019 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed: The second thing $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Dec 15, 2019 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper I don't see how the question gives the impression of the second thing. It specifies noises, not telepathy. In addition, Telepathy isn't a known biological mechanism, and this question hasn't been tagged 'magic'. Regardless, my answer still solves the 'why', the how is either going to be needed to be explained or handwaved. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Dec 15, 2019 at 1:21

3 Answers 3


They are hunted by giant bats.

Bats find their prey by echolocation. The ability to overwhelm an individual incoming bat with a blast of fake sound is a good defensive measure for your creatures. Telepathicaly induced fake sound is better than using a real blast of sound because while real sound might stop the incoming close bat, other bats at some distance will hear the sound and be attracted to prey. Fake sound is specific to a single bat.

Your creatures must resist the impulse to do a victory dance atop the incapacitated giant bat, because other bats will definitely hear that.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Some moths do make noise to confuse the bats that are hunting them. It doesn't hurt or stun the bat, but it does mess with their echolocation. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2019 at 12:04
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    $\begingroup$ @IndigoFenix - I should have mentioned the moths. Thanks for adding that. I wonder if there are fish or other cetacean prey that can do that? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Dec 15, 2019 at 14:23

It was the most effective method

Evolution is just the survival of the fit. In the event of a defense of loud noises, it's probably because all the other methods just weren't as good or didn't develop. For instance, suppose camouflage didn't work because they were facing a predator with an advanced sense of smell and could sniff them out. Running didn't work because the predator was faster, and something like poison didn't work because producing it was more complex than just developing an ear-splitting buzz.

Or, alternatively, perhaps the predator was already weak to sound so the defensive measure was put into place, and over a few millennia, it just looped between the predators growing more resilient and the Telenoids gaining more power.


Nerve Induction is an 'Area of Effect' Weapon / Defence

The closest analogue to nerve induction we have in our world is a mighty roar. This is as much a defensive measure as it is a stake of claim on territory; A lion's roar can be heard over great distances and tells other lions that you're in the area, you're a badass, don't mess with me, etc. The point being, it tells people to leave you alone.

That said, male lions tend to operate alone or in very small groups, regardless of whether or not they have a pride with them.

What if lions were prey themselves? To pack animal predators?

A roar would only advertise your presence to a superior force. In such a case, you need something that has the same area of effect properties, but with a bit more bite than bark, so to speak. Something that actually makes you a harder target and make that superior force think twice about taking you on.

The trouble with bite, punch, or kick attacks or their analogues in your xenobiological ecology is that they can only take on one attacker at a time. You need something that will ward off a pack and make them keep their distance. In that sense, a nerve induction capability is a great answer in that it forces the pack hunting you to keep their distance as a group and allows you to focus on getting out of danger, rather than fighting. If you are protecting a pack of your own, it also keeps predators away from your partners or your young.

It's a defensive capability designed to work against large packs and protect a small family group of your own so you can focus on getting them clear of the danger. Basically, you want your predators to think twice about even coming close to you. In evolutionary terms, the kind of specialisation and energy requirements this kind of ability represents probably means that you have a species with a very low birth rate on a high pack-predator environment and that protecting young is of critical concern for your species because attrition through loss of young has a devastating impact on your numbers.

So, with a low birth-rate, high concentration of pack based predators, and the unhappy circumstance of NOT being at the top of the food chain, this would actually be a pretty cool evolutionary response.


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