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Would it make sense for animalistic shifters to have mounts when they can shift into a large feral-like form?

That is, not humans that turn into animals, but a species of large humanoids that can turn into a more feral beast-like form while maintaining sapience.

Would it be easier to just shift into the secondary form to pull things or carry things or whtever or would it be better to have an actual mount (like a horse or camel)?

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    $\begingroup$ That worked well for He Man. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jun 6 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ Shifter #1: "We're going to take part in sled dog race, split yourself up." Shifter #1 Jr: "OK daddy you take the first 3 rows and I'll do the 2 remaining rows plus a monkey." $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jun 7 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ This question seems at first as completely banal to answer ("On Sundays, in many cities you can get somewhere faster by running instead of taking public transportation. Would you rather ride a tram or run?"), but the more you think about it, the more you realise the answer hinges drastically on how fast beast form tires, how much it can pull, how fast it can run, and how that compares with the hassle of caring mounts. Say, you wouldn't bother trying to teach a hare how to pull a handbag, if you can comfortably carry five times that weight in a backpack. $\endgroup$ – Dragomok Jun 7 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Why would humans have dogs when we can defend ourselves? Because the extra teeth help. Why use horses when we invented shovels? Because the extra hooves help. Even had your creatures the ability to shift into infinite forms: there's always a benefit to having two (or more) of something. And that ignores the fact that culture may make shifting for labor bourgeoisie, age may make shifting painful, the danger of the moment may make it undesirable. I'm beginning to think this question has too many answers.... $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 7 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ Since you say "the secondary form", are you saying that these shifters have 2 fixed forms that they can swap between, rather than being free-shifters who can assume any form? $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jun 8 at 12:14
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Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage.

It doesn't even matter whether the draft animals are as effective as the shifters. All the matters is that having the draft animals pull the carts allows the shifters to do other stuff, so as to cover the cost of having the animals do it, and some on top. (Net: profit.)

Suppose you had five blacksmith shifters. Every year, they have five carts full of goods to sell at the annual fair. If only one of them actually has to make the week-long trek, sell the goods over the two weeks of the fair, and make the trek back, the four remaining can spend that month making more goods.

Also, if you ride a mount to, say, a court of law, you will arrive less tired and so better suited to argue, and your mount, if it can eat grass when you can't, means you need less food.

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  • $\begingroup$ I could be more practical to use other members of their own specie to do all that. $\endgroup$ – Tomás Jun 7 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. The calculations might not even be the same for the blacksmiths from year to year, for whatever reason. $\endgroup$ – Mary Jun 7 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for that last point: having a mount that is able (and willing) to graze is a distinct advantage. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jun 7 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ This is why there is such a thing as a sedan chair. $\endgroup$ – Pete Kirkham Jun 9 at 11:04
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They would have different mounts for the same reason have different types of vehicles. But your creatures can just shift into a stronger and faster form,why would they use mounts? Because they are lazy and because vehicles/mounts allow good combinations in various niches like in construction building or in the military for example.

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    $\begingroup$ Mounts, to mount. Not mouths. Probably shifted form would keep mouths so they could bellow and bite. But still; upvote. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jun 6 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ As you can read here (slate.com/culture/2012/06/…) we humans can outrun any other animal in the world. Despite this, we have been used mounts since we were able to tame them. You tire less. (+1) $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Jun 8 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Rekesoft Just because some humans can outrun horses doesn't mean we as a society can do without them as mounts. I can only imagine that succeeding in this task took quite a bit of specialized training, which most people probably don't have the time or desire to engage in. Also, I couldn't find a reference to how long the race track is, but I imagine that it's relatively short compared to the distances horses are usually tasked with running as mounts. In order to replace horses with humans, you have to be able to do everything horses can do, not just one specific thing in one finite range. $\endgroup$ – Steve-O Jun 8 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Steve-O On the contrary, the longer the distance, the better for humans. You can't outrun a horse in a 400 meters race but in ultramarathons (100km), specially if hot, humans do it much better. Humans can also pull carts, but as I say, it's just easier if someone else does it. $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Jun 8 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve-O The Man-vs-Horse "Wales Marathon" is about 22 miles / 35km. That makes it slightly shorter than a proper marathon (26.2 miles) - so, it's about 5 times the length of a typical horse race such as Ascot, and about 10 times the distance most horses can maintain a gallop / run for. To cover 20 miles, it will need spend a lot of time trotting, possibly some time cantering, and almost no time at a gallop $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Jun 8 at 23:17
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Humans can walk and run very long distances and very efficiently. Yet we’ve still bred mounts for thousands of years. We are also not that weak compared to a wild horse or cow.

The advantage with mounts is that you can let the mount do most of the work while still arriving relatively fresh and with more luggage than you could carry on your own. You can also use several at the same time. They’ve also been used as currency, fresh food and status symbol.

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The correct answer is: it depends. ^^

If these shifters try to live hidden between humans or there are other reasons not to use their shifted form too often they would be in need of a mount as often as normal humans are.

If they form a society on their own the situation is totally different. Their abilities would cancel out most of the advantages a beast of burden presented to human society (higher speed, ability to move high amounts of material fast and long distances and so on) so I think they would use them less then humans did in history. They woudn't be useless whatsoever as they still mean a source of transporting MORE material, travel long distances without fatigue an such.

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"Your job is to be a plough-horse 12 hours a day. Or a cart-horse. Or a mill horse."

"What?? Can't we get equines to do that?"

"Well if you're going to be lazy...."

Any intelligent species is always going to find alternative approaches to spending long hours of backbreaking toil when they could be doing something more productive. Domestic animals have always been a useful alternative to doing it yourself.

In the modern era, people who are quite capable of walking a mile or two often prefer to take alternative transport if it's available.

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    $\begingroup$ Or reproductive :) $\endgroup$ – Mad Physicist Jun 8 at 17:35
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My take would start by taking in account human is the most economic traveller by foot in nature. So I'd assume the feral form would be less so and their humanoid form more like humans. Therefore in some cases where you need to keep the feral form for long periods of time a mount would be better to move around.

The other obvious reason is war. They could charge in horses then switch to feral and strike with the added momentum and potential from height.

Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution

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How fast and/or strong is your secondary form? What other factors need to be considered?

If your secondary form is, for example, a wolf, then your shifted form has a top speed of about 37mph. A horse, on the other hand, has a top speed of about 55mph. When sheer speed was required, mounting a horse would be a better choice.

Suppose you need to carry heavy items over a long distance (possibly including fording a river). Wouldn't it be easier to ride an elephant, instead of having to either make multiple trips, or get other people to join you?

Finally - let's assume you were trying to cross a desert. In humanoid or wolf form, your feet sink into the sand, and the exercise dehydrates you rapidly. On the other hand, a camel has wide feet (so as not to sink into the sand), is adapted to long periods without needing to drink water, and carries its own supply of energy (fat stored in the hump) - again, mounting the camel is a better choice

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Your species has two forms -- humanoid, and what you call feral. You don't describe it, but imagine for the sake of argument that it's akin to a bear.

Now imagine all the types of animals humans use as mounts and haulers -- horses, mules, donkeys, camels, elephants, oxen, yaks, llamas, alpacas, dogs, goats, other humans, etc. While some are the choices of poverty or unavailability of better choices, most of them have a niche where they are superior.

So, there are probably situations where a human is best off walking, situations where they are best off switching to feral form, but in the majority of situations it's best to find a suitable mount. I don't think having an animal-like form will turn people into strident vegans.

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