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The onocentaur is a mythological creature that is, contrary to its name, not truly a centaur, but instead has become a quadruped

enter image description here

They have a humanoid upper body, with arms and hands, and a donkey-like lower body, with hooved legs. They are overall roughly donkey sized

They are facultative bipeds; they mostly move about on their hands and hooves, but can use their arms/hands to grab things and manipulate objects. Their mouth and dentition is humanoid. They have humanoid minds, but are not as intelligent, and far less inventive

This creature seems quite paradoxical: The equine hooves are adapted for wide, flat lands, whereas human arms, when considered as legs, seem to only be useful amongst branches and vines

Given this, is there any environment/niche that this onocentaur could survive in?

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  • $\begingroup$ Why would they be walking around on their hands at all when they've already got four good hooves on strong legs for walking? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Dec 19, 2021 at 1:15

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Probably cliffs are the most fitting place for these. Granted, an equine hoof is not ideal for traversing rock, but a cloven hoof like that of a mountain goat would be perfect. Even with a single-toe hoof, mules and hinnys are reasonably sure-footed on stony surfaces. A creature with grasping hands might have an advantage in clinging to rock faces and the ability to stand on two legs might enable it to reach higher ledges on a vertical face. As cliffs can be found in almost all climates, these creatures could be slotted into most settings, to some capacity. The ability to use tools could have enabled them to scavenge more effectively from large predators and to access plants or nuts that other herbivores can't while remaining relatively safe from predation or den competition on the rocky faces. Cliff-dwelling birds may also make up a significant part of their seasonal diet.

Living on cliffs would also explain how a human's relatively dull senses are not a hindrance, as good eyesight would be more valuable than keen hearing or sense of smell. The ability to throw objects would also be invaluable as even the most nimble hunters would have trouble scaling a facade while having rocks or sticks rained down on them. Bellowing, singing, whistling, or banging on things (like simple drums) would also be effective on rock faces, more so than in other environments, because of the reverberation and sound reflection off the rocks.

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A bit like my minotaur avatar image, but with a donkey-shaped back ?

Change of shape is underways

Sounds like a case of back-and-forth evolution, from quadruped herbivores via a human-shaped creature with horns and hooves, back to donkey and quadruped.. It may be sensible to assume it will become herbivore again and adjust its mouth and dentition for grazing. It could end up in a kind of goat-shape, but in its current inbetween stage, it won't be agile. An experienced quadruped would be able to climb (like a goat) and find safe high grounds, but for now, it will need grazing space. Open grassland is risky, so..

Moderate forests: an open space in a forest, or a forest edge with lots of fruits and fresh leaves may be appropriate.

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