0
$\begingroup$

Let's take the traditional image of a harpy from Greek mythology: A sapient creature with avian wings and talons with a humanoid head (and presumably, cranium capacity). This creature does not possess arms (at least in the original versions), having wings in its place. The only means they have of grasping objects are with anisodactyl talons similar to a vulture's, or with their mouths (humanoid, and thus less precise than a beak). Therefore, in order to manipulate objects with any degree of care, they must be seated, perhaps using their wings to steady themselves. They are able to fly, and are light enough to do so, but can only manage soaring and coasting with thermal columns, much like birds of prey. In flight, they could probably carry no more than 15kg. Given these limitations, what human-equivalent technology level could such a species achieve? Could they hypothetically reach the Iron Age or beyond, or would they barely reach the Neolithic?

For this question, let's assume that the amount and distribution of resources in this world is identical to Earth. The metals and materials are there, it's simply a matter of what these harpies could achieve with them.

Again, please inform me of any formatting issues and I will make the necessary edits. Thank you.

$\endgroup$
10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you can't farm you won't have much time to do anything else. I think they're all dead anyways with a human mouth and no hands. The only reason apes get away with a mouth like ours is because we have hands. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's your world. You get to decide what tech level the species of your world have. Perhaps they're a spacefairing race, the first in the galaxy to develop interstellar travel. Perhaps the god of technology was stood up by a bird once and now forbids every avian race from developing anything even vaguely technological. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 1:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I read that help guide, and I still can't see how this question is opinion-based. Please specify if I am to improve to this website's standards. $\endgroup$
    – Myotis
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 3:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Myotis You didn't read those pages very well. "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … every answer is equally valid … there is no actual problem to be solved … you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question." Also, "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." And, questions "Must be specific and answerable." Per the help center, you should be using the Sandbox. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 3:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related, (possible duplicate): Could lips and tongue be used as appendages by a sentient species?. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 7:33

2 Answers 2

1
$\begingroup$

If we are going Science Based - the answer must be zero.

In other words - there is no evidence to suggest such a creature has or would be able to attain any level of technological ability.

In more detail, avian type species have been on this planet for over 150 million years. During this period there is no evidence of any technological development, knowledge of metallurgy, tools or manipulation of structures, rocks or steel/timber buildings. Atmospheric core measurements have largely natural explanations, and there does not seem to be any evidence of dinosaurian intelligence that we can detect so far.

Speculatively, it would be also difficult to manipulate objects with talons. Our fingers and opposable thumbs do allow rotation, throwing, manipulation and investigation of objects (initially likely fruits and nuts) but more importantly prior to this we evolved to stand upright and not require our hands to walk on, enabling evolutionary steps to have limbs dedicated to such manipulation. Your talons may be unable to have the same degree of manipulation if they also must duplicate their function as balancing on tree branches (which is the evolved use of talons in existing current-day birds).

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ I'm wondering if thumb and forefinger claws, like the ones found on hoatzin chicks, could make a difference. They could keep this trait through neoteny, allowing them some basic grasping capabilities, though the loss of the alula would give them less control over their flight. Uncertain if it would impact a slow soaring flight significantly. $\endgroup$
    – Myotis
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 16:27
1
$\begingroup$

Realistically human dentition cannot cope well with raw meat and cooking would be beyond their physical capabilities. So they'd eat fruit or greenery and have no need for technology like stone tools which they couldn't make or use anyway without grasping appendages of some sort.

Basically big fruit bats unless they were swallowing things whole like mice or something.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .