In the question; Hollow-boned Humanoids Nathaniels humanoids were a flying mammal species called soarfolk. But let's say that I want a sapient mammal to have hollow bones but not fly.

These furred, sapient mammals are called Lokk, they evolved in the plains after leaving jungles. They are an average of 5"4 and 50 kg. The length of their arms(3.1 ft) Legs(2.8 ft) and tail(2.7 ft). They will be preferably digitigrade(though not a requirement) and of course they have hollow bones.

How could a creature like this evolve in an earth like world?

  • $\begingroup$ What are the bones filled with? the hollow bones of birds are filled with airsacs. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 21 '18 at 13:56

Maybe while living in the jungles they were arboreal and the lighter animals were able to stay higher in the trees, or be able to 'flee' across smaller branches in the trees allowing them to live, as they 'ran' from predators.

So like flying, staying up higher in the trees would encourage lighter bodies, but having hollow bones turned out to be more advantageous than a smaller frame, (like longer arms to help reach farther to grab the next branch.

The other might be if they were originally a flying species that started living in the treetops of the jungles and lost the ability to fly, but became more monkey like as generations came and went.


Overall, make weight a major concern in some way, while maintaining that there is an advantage in having more upright height on land (To keep them bi-pedal).

The easiest way to do so is if gravity were considerably stronger, which may or may not be considered "Earth-like". There would be more advantage to have stronger, denser, bones. But the weight might not be worth having solid bones, so they might become hollow.

There are probably other ways to make one's weight heavy without simply adapting to lose that weight, but I can't think of them at the moment. Hopefully others will have more ideas if you don't want to mess with gravity.

  • $\begingroup$ Their not that heavy, only 110 pounds $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Dec 23 '15 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ I'm just saying that they could exist without messing with gravity if my math is correct I might be wrong though, it happens $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Dec 23 '15 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @TrEs-2b Something is capable of physically existing without it being very likely (or even possible in some cases) to have evolved. So, I agree that it could exist, but this is the only thing I am able to think of as far as getting it to evolve - hopefully more answers come which better fit your creature and world. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Dec 23 '15 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ I get what you're saying, thanks for the answer $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Dec 23 '15 at 19:06

You have 2 big problems to overcome

The easier reason bats don't have hollow bones is that mammals have fewer bones than most vertebrates and bone marrow is where our blood is made, birds have moved the bulk of their marrow to only a few select bones and use nucleated blood cells (so blood can make more blood) to compensate. Remember not all of a bird's bones are hollow many of the large limb bones actually have marrow or are hollow with large amounts of marrow in the ends of the bones.

So you have two ways: 1 you can have a mammal that has developed an alternative to bone marrow, say like a new tissue in the spleen or liver. 2.You can have a few select bones that have been altered to have lots of marrow like say a large growth off the pelvis and a swollen bulbous tail with big vertibra, that way you can make some bones hollow without loosing the total volume of bone marrow.

There is a second hurdle once you can make bones hollow you still have the problem of how to get air to the bones to fill them. birds have a unique air sac based breathing system with hard inflexible lungs. the air sacs a widely distributed and can be moved by evolution into bones with disturbing the function of the lungs. If a mammal tried this they would suffocate from either having a hole in the diaphragm or making the lungs to stiff.

So you also need to completely redesign the mammalian breathing system.which is tricky becasue all your intermediaries have to keep up with the high oxygen demand of warm blooded anatomy. You would have to slowly stiffen the upper part of the lungs while binding the lower portion of the lungs to the diaphragm and ribs to physically pull the lungs open, instead of using negative pressure the way mammal do right now.but that means the chest cavity needs to get a lot bigger to fit all that.


Perhaps there are poisonous gases created by underground bacteria in the forest floor which are fatal to your Lokk, and those gases dissipate in sunlight (i.e. concentrations would readily reach non-fatal levels as one approaches the top of the jungle.

If combined with plants whose branches retract upon sufficient jarring (i.e. Lokk who were heavier and disturbed the branches would fall into the gases), the Lokk would probably evolve into lighter, hollow-boned organisms, who could keep themselves out of the gases, up in the treetops.


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