Okay, so I have a species that are humanoid but have wings, and live up on mountain peaks, like where all the snow is. They are sentient like humans, and have the same level of intelligence. I'm wondering what adaptations they would need for them to be able to build structures and societies in the mountains. Right now, they're basically just humans with wings and thin layers of fur around their body. Not body hair, actual fur. They also have sharp teeth, since they can't grow much up in the mountains and have to eat animals. I need some suggestions and ideas to further improve on this.

For some examples, would they need more fur? How much? Would they need special hands/feet to make walking/landing on snow easier, like so they dont sink in. Or so they don't cause avalanches by disturbing snow? Would they need their size altered so they don't need as much oxygen when they're so high up? Wow would they be able to withstand harsh blizzards? Would their eyes be sharper so they could spot things when flying? Also, would their eyelids/eyelashes be changed at all, like to give protection when flying through the air or snow?

Those are all just example questions that I came up with on the spot. So I'm not looking for anything specific, just general ideas and suggestions for the anatomy of the species that would make where they live plausible, but while also keeping them at least vaguely humanoid. To sum up all the above thoughts, what kind of adaptations would a winged humanoid species need to have to be able to live on a mountain peak?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Your question is at risk of being closed for being unfocused, but I shall suggest regardless that these winged humanoids either have smaller and lighter bodies than you're probably imagining them having or have larger wings and bigger pectoral or whatever muscles than you're probably imagining them with. Nothing to do with mountain living, just to have flight be more plausible for them. $\endgroup$
    – Rubrikon
    Dec 27, 2021 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ +1, good plan, too many questions "Those are all just example questions that I came up with on the spot" that's not how it works.. putting one question about a single subject, like temperature, vision, or oxygen related adaptation will help to get a better answer.. and it prevents remarks about focus. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 27, 2021 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ Oh good grief, guys! The OP has given an environment and a required trait, and has asked what adaptations may be necessary. What's unfocused about that? It seems perfectly clear to me. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Dec 28, 2021 at 5:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Most comes from the way it is written. Dudnugger, I have edited slightly your question to put more emphasis on your main question, instead of the many thoughts that came to you ^^. In general, I advise to repeat the same question in the title at the end like I did. If you can ideally, put these sub-thoughts away or as plain sentences instead of questions, that'll save you some of this hassle and help in overall focusing your question. Plushy plus, you won't lock people thoughts on the topics you raised, so you'll have more chances of having ideas you didn't think of 🐶. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 28, 2021 at 11:30

2 Answers 2


Vulture people.

griffon vulture


Like other vultures, it is a scavenger, feeding mostly from carcasses of dead animals which it finds by soaring over open areas, often moving in flocks. It establishes nesting colonies in cliffs that are undisturbed by humans while coverage of open areas and availability of dead animals within dozens of kilometres of these cliffs is high..

Your humanoids are the size of young baboons (approximately 10kg) with the wingspan of the largest vultures. High mountains are good places for them because like the vultures they can cover a large area looking for carrion. Their primate sociality lets them cooperate in this endeavor and their cooperativity lets them drive larger scavengers away from carrion (as our own human ancestors certainly did).

They are small creatures and built things on the mountains are limited cairns of stone - most of which are now huge and many generations old. Walking on snow and causing avalanches are not much of a concern because of their light weight.

Minimizing surface area to volume is a good way to stay warm and so as regards body habitus and fur, these creatures tend towards sphericity. An individual would have a near spherical body with a diameter of about 20 cm, short stubby arms and legs and a wingspan of about 3m.

Image coming!

  • $\begingroup$ That description sounds horrifying, to be honest! 😨 $\endgroup$ Dec 28, 2021 at 3:12

There are a number of adaptations that would be required to have a humanoid flying species with a human-like level of intelligence, living at high altitude:

  1. Small size. Most good fliers are lightweights, weighing less than one kilogram. The largest flying bird is around 20kg. This imposes a maximum weight for this species. Given that it appears that the OP wants a species with both arms and wings, I'd give a maximum body mass of 10-15kg, given that it would need to carry non-flight-related body mass.

  2. Intelligence. Homo floresiensis was though to be a small tool-using relative of humans, with an upper body mass of 25kg. While these flying humanoids would need to have a maximum body mass of under 20kg, possibly around 10-15kg at most, the fact that small humans can be intelligent is an argument that low body mass does not preclude intelligence. The smallest recorded woman, Lucia Zarate, a primordial dwarf, weighed 2.1kg at age 17, and was bilingual in Spanish and English and intelligent, sufficient to carry on her occupation as an entertainer. A body mass this low would certainly allow flight, given a suitable set of wings and flight muscles.

  3. A mountain-living species capable of flight need not be exclusively or even primarily carnivorous. While there may not be much in the way of plant matter for them to eat at high altitude, their ability to fly would mean that travelling to find food would not be out of the question. I would expect that the general shortage of any sort of food in their preferred living environment would select for omnivory: such beings couldn't afford to pass up any potential food.

  4. Having a low body mass would mean that this species would have a high surface area to body mass ratio, especially with an extra set of limbs. In order to insulate themselves against low temperatures in alpine environments, having a coat of fine, dense fur should provide adequate insulation. Feathers and down should also provide adequate insulation.

  5. These beings would require a good set of lungs. If they had mammalian lungs, their maximum survivable altitude would be quite restricted, however birds have much more efficient lungs, and a much higher survivable altitude.

  6. Along with large lungs, these beings would have large flight muscles. This would give them a very large, deep chest relative to their size, and their skeletons would likely sport a sternum with a projecting keel to which the flight muscles would be anchored. Flight muscles would be these beings' largest muscles.

  7. This species would likely have large eyes capable of great visual acuity at long distances, in order to locate their food while flying. They might even be tetrachromats or pentachromats given their likely need for great visual acuity.


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