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I'm thinking of writing a story where due to magic, a bunch of Neolithic tribes get sent to the Late-Cretaceous Period.

While I was coming up with the idea, I realized that living with dinosaurs may cause a faster evolution in the advancement of armor and weapons.

While bone weapons were common for stone-age tribes, most Pleistocene animals didn't have claws or teeth as large as raptor claws could become. Large daggers made from therapod claws may become common within tribes. Spears could be made with horns of Ceratopsian dinosaurs, if possible to be wielded, hammers made from Ankylosaur/nodosaur clubs or Stegosaurian thagomizers as a club.

Another thing that may have evolved earlier is armor. Technically skins and hides could be considered armor, however, mammalian hides aren't really that good at protecting from clawing or bites and were more used to protect from weather.

However, many non-therapod dinosaurs had tougher scaly skin and scutes, so humans may take to wearing them as armor instead of just to protect them from the cold. Of course, it would be remiss not to point out that most predators would've probably been adapted to cut or bite through the rough scaly skin, so the armor probably would've been worn by those who got into conflicts with other humans.

Another thing is shields, humans will learn how to break off the frills of ceratopsian dinosaurs to use as shields.

This may also influence the design of shields later down the line. Bit of a time skip but I imagine once humanity enters the bronze age during these times, people in high status like commanders or generals, may have metal shields purposely designed and colored to look like that of a form of ceratops frill as a sign of status or power.

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    $\begingroup$ your not getting anything like an Ankylosaur or horned ceratopsians in the mid-Jurassic. also pleistocene animals had teeth way bigger than any dinosaur, they were called sabertooth cat teeth and mammoth tusks. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 27 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ See this question as well. $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Feb 28 at 9:38
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    $\begingroup$ Your tribes would be quite dead from oxygen deprivation. The jurassic isn't a good time for mammals to exist in. $\endgroup$
    – Mermaker
    Feb 29 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ It might also have been warm enough that dressing for thermal protection was not very important. I wonder if they had turtle shells to wear, ninja style. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Feb 29 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ And nowadays dinosaurs aren't seen as having a thick scaly hide but being covered with feathers $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Feb 29 at 17:41

5 Answers 5

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Not Much Difference

People often underestimate just how much of a force multiplier a sharpened stick, complex language skills, and human ingenuity really was for our ancestors.

Cavemen faced off against sabre tooth tigers and drove them to extinction. 6 ton mammoths protected by thick woolly coats were our prey. While many of the apex species that early man competed with were not as big as dinosaurs, they were often faster and more agile which makes them in many ways even more dangerous.

A giant t-rex or albertosaurus may seem like an unbeatable titan, but cave drawings already show how humans took out large animals using not just weapons, but their cleverness. They would ambush large animals by throwing stones and spears at them from high ridges and trees. They would use fire to scare them off of cliffs or into pit traps. They could use spears to out reach any other animal's claws and teeth. And using barbed spear or arrow tips, they could reasonably take down a large dinosaur with a single strike.

Dinosaurs would be dangerous, sure, but if Paleolithic spears and bows could take down a mammoth, there is no reason to think a dinosaur would fair much better.

The biggest difference would probably be that you'd see a lot more settlements ringed with trenches. Megafauna are harder to keep out with a wall than medium sized animals, but they tend to have a much harder time with pits and trenches because when they fall, they fall hard. You might also see an early emergence of phalanx style warfare if larger animals means an earlier need for longer spears.

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    $\begingroup$ This. Square-Cube Law and Traps! The bigger the dinosaur, the more fatal a "benign" 1m-2m drop is to them. It's the Raptors you should worry about... $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthieuM. Yup ... and raptors are no more dangerous than the predators that humans actually had to deal with. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 28 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki You mean raptors aren't suicidal killing machines as shown in Jurassic world??? $\endgroup$
    – Questor
    Feb 28 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ "alpha species" megafauna $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 1 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @John That was actually meant to be apex species, not alpha species. My intended meaning was top of the food chain, not necessarily a reference to size. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Mar 4 at 20:27
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less armor

Armor isn't too effective when you're getting stomped on or chewed up. Since large carnosaurs rely more on olfactory senses, perfumes that blend in with plants and mud may be used instead. Armor would also really mess up maneuverability which is vital when you're running away from something or hiding...

ranged weapons

your neolithic tribes want to make very good use of heavy payload bows or other heavy ranged weapons, getting up close and personal doesn't seem too smart when you're going against towering behemoths of muscle and feather. try heavy-tipped arrows with your longbows instead.

conflicts with other humans

chances are, with dinos involved, your humans aren't the apex predator any longer. your humans will want to be more agreeable with each other to survive larger threats. teamwork is key!

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    $\begingroup$ As much as Jurassic Park makes it seem like dinosaurs would reak havok on humans, I think humans have proved fighting against pretty much all animals of the world that they would remain to be the apex predator on land. A T-Rex is for sure to be a dangerous encounter but enough pointy sticks will still do the job. And if humanity can fend off wolf packs they can probably fend off raptors. $\endgroup$
    – HSharp
    Feb 28 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ @HSharp likely better with raptors than wolves, wolves are good a tripping and pulling animals to the ground while raptors specialize in attacking the sides of horizontal animals, which humans don't really have. I can imagine raptors running around the side of a human and getting confused and keep trying to runing circles around the side looking for flanks we don't have. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 28 at 20:58
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They would die very quickly, but not because of the dinossaurs.

Middle-jurassic had around half the avaialable oxygen in the air than we have today. Most large-ish mammals (Humans included) don't work well with so little oxygen.

Your people would be confused, have a lot of difficulty to think, and would be constantly exausthed to do anything else besides having a hard time breathing.

Mammals need high oxygen levels, and the jurassic - specially the middle one - isn't exactly the best in oxygen levels.

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less than you think

Claws are useless compared to stone blades, claws are cool decorations but don't have much use. This is less true for big horns, but humans have had access to those and did not use them for much.

Big bones will have a use, well big hollow bones. They can have many uses for things like blowguns, flutes, spears, or even for making bows, but that is less dinosaur and more pterosaur material. although some sauropods will yield large flat board-like bones if you split their ribs. big solid bones don't have much use, humans had access to those and mostly just used them like bricks.

Armor is not going to happen, armor from crocodile skin was made but was largely ceremonial, that kind of armor is just too fragile and does not offer much protection. As for sheilds, no large frilled ceratopsians in the Jurassic, and ceratopsian shield does not make for a good shield anyway, they are heavy and not solid, they actually have a big hole in them.

With no large mammals they are only going to survive in warmer climates, no running around in the snow without furs. in the mid-Jurassic you don't have any big feathered dinosaurs either so you can't even substitute that.

BUT you have a bigger problem, mid Jurassic means no angiosperms, which means no fruit or any vegetable they would recognize, no tubers, which means the vast majority of their diet is missing so they are going to subsist almost entirely on hunting. You might have better results if they are transported WITH a large chunk of land including wildlife. they could cultivate plants then, farming began in the neolithic.

You are also not getting anything like an Ankylosaur or horned ceratopsians in the mid-Jurassic. you should double check your dinosaur list.

Now they won't have any problem thriving, fire and spears and traps along with planning make almost every dinosaur just food. Even if they are a threat. expect them to cause the rapid extinction of sauropods. the high breeding efficiency of dinosaurs means domestication becomes a bit more likely, but there are existing questiosn about that.

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  • $\begingroup$ You're definitely being far too optimistic. Hominids evolved alongside the megafauna they hunted in a climate they were familiar with and even then the cave hyena is thought to have halted the progress of hominids for quite a while. These tribes will be thrown in an unknown environment, facing unknown threats and fighting predominantly in forests instead of open steppes and savannahs. The first generation(s) of these tribes are definitely going to have a very miserable time provided they survive at all. Also taking plants and such from their time might screw over the Jurassic ecosystem. $\endgroup$ Feb 27 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ You should also remember that our megafauna evolved alongside Hominids. Cavemen know all about big scary animals with pointy teeth, but dinosaurs will have never faced the threat of long pointy sticks and traps; so, they will be more poorly prepared to face cavemen than cavemen are prepared to face dinos. In fact, most predators will only hunt animals that they KNOW are food and ignore strange creatures that they don't recognize. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 27 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ @TheShadowOfZama, no they didn't the megafauna that evolved alongside humans are the ones that are mostly still around AKA the ones in Africa, everywhere else we all but wiped them out when humans showed up, giant ground sloths, mammoths, ect. And lots and lots of human have lived and thrived in forests during the neolithic. neolithic humans are in no way limited to grasslands. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 27 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ @John You're looking at modern times and see humans everywhere and seem to think "Humans are everywhere so humans won every time" which is false. Eventually tt turned out to be true because humans kept trying and they kept coming. There's plenty of examples of human settlements and even tribes dying out in an region. For example the vikings in North America and the Scottish with the Darien scheme. (Remember there's no resupply of other hominids if something goes wrong with the ones that arrived in the Jura unless more tribes are transported later on. $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ @TheShadowOfZama none of which has to do with the the local megafauna $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 28 at 20:42
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Bad times ahead

They're going to have a very, very bad time that's for sure. Dinosaurs were such efficient killing machines mammals only got a chance to shine after they died out. Before that time mammals were small animals that stayed out of the dinosaurs their sight.

The answer to your question is going to be very boring. The answer is they're not going to go out of their way to use dinosaur parts as weapons. They're going to stick to what they know which means weapons from stones and wood with bone mostly being a thing whenever it becomes available.

As for the evolution of weapons...I don't think the bow is going to be very popular. Long bows and Asiatic compound bows are complex things to produce and ones that requires a lot of training. Spear throwers will be far more popular, easier to learn and the projectiles will actually do something against (some) dinosaurs. No way primitive arrows fired by primitive bows will do anything to a dinosaur unless they score a very lucky hit or its a very small type of dinosaur.

As such I don't think your tribes are going to spend a lot of time developing bows but go more along the way of the Aboriginals of Australia (who never invented bows).

The less your humans have to do with dinosaurs the better for them. Humans were ice age savannah/steppe hunters and if they're going to the Jura they're going to be fighting on the dinosaurs their turf.

Also small piece of advice look up how the Jura looked because stuff like grass didn't exist to give one example so goodbye cereals. Your tribes are going to have a very fun time figuring out what they're going to be eating because most crops we know and your tribes would know did not exist in the Jura.

Fruits like say apples and such? Did not exist either because angiosperms (flowering plants) did not exist and as a result also no pollinators like bees. Not that your tribes would necesarrily even know apples depending on which area of the world you plucked them from.

I hope this answer was somewhat usefull.

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    $\begingroup$ A realistically gloomy picture. One minor nit-pick - the people who migrated down what was then a land bridge to the lands that became New Guinea and Australia did have bows, but somehow their use disappeared in Australia while it continued in New Guinea. (Most of the megafauna in Australia disappeared in a relatively short period after the humans arrived, so the bows clearly were not required to kill animals.) $\endgroup$ Feb 27 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ Bad time, they will have an easy time, fire and traps go a long long way. there is a reason humans wipe out megafauna wherever they show up. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 27 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 humans can survive just fine without plants, especially if you have access to eggs which there a LOT more of in the Jurassic. Plant would certainly be better but they are not necessary. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 28 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ Dinosaurs might have been highly-efficient killing machines compared to mammals in general, especially at the time. But in the history of the world, there have never been more efficient killing machines than humans. (Excluding the possible presence of extra-terrestrials, of course.) $\endgroup$
    – Abion47
    Feb 28 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055, humans can survive just fine on a purely carnivorous diet. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Feb 28 at 23:36

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