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We are used to a world where humans are basically an apex predator; we don't really need to worry much about becoming some other animal's next meal.

If that wasn't the case, and humans had to be wary of the possibility of a predator either lurking nearby or openly hunting them, how would that affect the human society of that world compared to what we are used to?

For the purposes of this question: (1) I am mainly interested in the resultant changes on the structure of the human society (although answers addressing other aspects, including (2), as well are perfectly fine), and (2) please simply accept that the situation exists. It is a fairly safe bet that the humans in such a situation, in addition to handling the fact that the threat exists, would also want to remove that threat from their lives. As interesting a question as the latter is, it is not really the topic of this question; I'm more interested in the handling of the threat than how the threat could be eliminated.

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to use "Dominant Species" vs. Apex Predator. Apex Predator's have specific connotations beyond preying on others but not being preyed upon themselves (tied up with this is being a carnivore that only eats other carnivores). Because humans subsist on grains, vegetables, and other foodstuffs (dairy) they are a poor example of an apex predator. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Sep 16 '14 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ @JoshuaAslanSmith Wikipedia appears to disagree with you. From the introductory section of the linked article: Apex predators do not need to be hypercarnivores. For example, grizzly bears and humans are each apex predators and are omnivores. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 16 '14 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia is not a great source in general. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Sep 16 '14 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree that precision in language is a good thing, even if the term as used is not 100% accurate in the scientific sense, I believe there is enough context in the question itself to indicate the intent. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 16 '14 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Related anime: Attack on Titan minus the evolutionary history part (predators just appeared out of nowhere). $\endgroup$ – kubanczyk May 20 '15 at 20:32

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I would suggest we look to animals such as the meerkat for an answer. For those who don't know the meerkat is a small mammal which lives in small communities in Africa.

All meercats (although the young and sick in particular) are at risk from various species although particularly big birds of prey.

To depend against this the group typically live underground where it's safe. They only come above ground when it's light (so they can see properly).

Several members of the group come above ground at the same time, some are deployed as lookouts while others forage for food. At the first sign of danger the lookout signals the group who retreat to their burrows. Furthermore special creches are used to help the young explore with dedicated adults who mind each other's children while the parents hunt. This cooperation is vital to the young's survival.

To apply this behaviour to humans, they would need to find a safe home. Underground, underwater, up trees - wherever is safe from attack. They would only come out in numbers and when they have the advantage, perhaps the predator is nocturnal? Perhaps it is water based and can only come out in the rain? Whenever it is at it's strongest - that's when the people want to be deep underground.

Finally cooperation is key, the group work together to survive. Some forage for food/work while others maintain watch, in a modern society this could be the equivalent of having a city watch paid for by the workers. If someone ignores the warnings, if they wander off on their own they're easy prey for the predators.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course, the first thing that a technological society would do is brutally eliminate all predatory threats to their species as soon as it's possible to do so. $\endgroup$ – SPavel Mar 14 '17 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ @SPavel has done* $\endgroup$ – DonFusili Apr 20 '18 at 7:33
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This depends a lot on the properties of the apex predator. Depending on that, it may not make a whole lot of difference. Think about it like this, while humans are dominant on earth, different groups of humans have been dominated by others so we have some ideas of how to handle it. They have used several methods to deal with stronger groups of humans.

  1. Appeasement. Depending on your predators desires, tribes of humans could wear no gold and leave piles of valuables at their borders to deal with dragons or leave slaughtered animals to feed hungry animals they can't defend against.
  2. Attrition. Humans have burned crops behind them, hidden in caves and woods, made it so costly to find them that its just not worth it. Depending upon the mobility of your predators, they can play the long game and avoid them.
  3. Brains. Depending on the intelligence of their opponents, humans can use their brains to counter the threat. Pits, traps, disguises, or even taming the predators can work.
  4. Surrender. When all else fails, give in and join them. Humans could attempt to become allies/servants/slaves of their enemies based on their level of desperation.
  5. Straight up pure numbers. Because a predator requires many meals to keep it alive, there will always be many more humans than predators. Humans could decide to sacrifice a few members by lottery or contest or some other method, or just grind the predators numbers down. They can kill them even at great cost or work on killing their young before they mature.

Humans are versitle and have tried many ways of dealing with stronger forces. Based on the movement/strength/intelligence of the predators, you have many interesting ways of having humans react to them.

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It might be worth noting that humans aren't exactly apex predators. At least, not in the conventional sense that most other apex predators exist. A lion or a bear is still quite capable of killing us and we're, at any given time, generally unable to stop that. Our apparent dominance comes from a very good system of risk management. We keep the bears away from where we live and we dominate our own, very-controlled food chain.

If some new threat were to emerge that we had to deal with, there's a few examples we've got to suggest what we might do. The first example is that of wilderness settlers. Folks who live on the fringes of developed areas are generally more aware of their surroundings. They are more often armed, bother with more physical security of their homes, keep an eye on things and try to track predator activity in the area. Societies in such places tend to be more in tune with nature, more accepting of it's threat and more calculating in their responses to that threat.

Interestingly enough, people act this way in another situation: warzones. By far, the most effective killer of humans are other humans and we have trouble with them quite often. Dealing with that threat is the field of policing and military sciences. Against such a tenacious foe, we've been known to do all kinds of things like elaborate physical defenses (walls, minefields, earthworks), direct confrontation with all kinds of weapons, deployed diseases and toxic chemicals against them and from time to time tried to reason with them. Depending on the nature of the threat, sometimes a few guys on the border with guns are good enough, sometimes you need some fences, sometimes more.

The only way I could see this situation occurring is if we faced some other kind of intelligent creature, in which case the warzone analogy is even more relevant. Diplomacy could be an avenue to safety, or carving out some space and enforcing a demilitarized zone where we shell anything that tries to cross, or fortresses surrounded by minefields and clouds of toxins. It would depend on what the threat was and how we could manage it. Humans tend towards fortresses throughout history whether they be caves or castles, only venturing out into the surroundings as we find ways to contain the risks of the world. Socially, it could be similar to rural Alaska or the African bush. An undertone of understanding nature's wrath, but a determination to beat it.

Of course, maybe we don't and we just get wiped out. People are generally too gregarious to support any kind of dispersal for the sake of survival. While we were killed off, we'd probably be trying to make a stand from fortresses of some description because as soon as we tried to run away, all our devices and plans would become far less useful.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the warzone analogy works really well. To carry this forward, and address the question "how would societal development be impacted?" we could look at the situation in many of humanity's recent wars. From a societal standpoint, one of the first things to suffer during a time of war is arts and entertainment. When a culture is in survival mode, there's little time or opportunity to engage in creating literature, music, etc. So if humanity as a whole were constantly fighting off a serious threat from some other species, it stands to reason that we'd have a lot less art in our culture. $\endgroup$ – Charles Burge Nov 3 '16 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ Apex predators are creatures with no predator in their ecosystem, except maybe each other. By this definition aren't humans apex predators? We make our own eco sustenance, and Elsinore angry predator capable of hunting is from our eco system? By your definition nothing is am apex predator because enduring us moldable by something else, lions are killed by hippos, bears by wolves, and pretty much everything is killed by humans. $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Nov 4 '16 at 18:11
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" I am mainly interested in the resultant changes on the structure of the human society... I'm more interested in the handling of the threat than how the threat could be eliminated."

Extremely interesting question, Michael - but you simply haven't given us enough information about the world you're building. The only answer here is a resounding "It depends". You are asking an ecological question, and it's difficult to extract hard-and-fast answers from a whole system, such as an ecology, which is so full of feedback loops that every answer depends on everything else. :-)

Changes in human society would be driven more by the particular nature of the world and the predators that inhabit it. By "the nature of the world" I mean what kind of resources are available, and what constraints the world itself imposes; and by "nature of the predators" I mean very basic questions about the predators as a species.

To illustrate, let's take a not very weird example and look at some of the implications.

SETTING: THE VAMPIRES OF DEINDUSTRIAL AMERICA

Without going into the backstory in any detail, let's posit that vampires, in a more or less traditional form, have always been with us, but that they remained hidden: a very small population of predators who were able to keep their depredations on the DL throughout most of modern history. Vampires, as Charlie Stross pointed out in his blog (NSFW - language), are an excellent example of an apex predator on humanity - although sufficiently different from the Comanche example adduced above to underscore the point.

Anyway, there came a plague, some kind of pandemic that not only killed an awful lot of people worldwide, but irretrievably disrupted the essential networks of manufacture, information, and trade essential to worldwide industrial civilization. That civilization crashed and has not been reconstituted in any way at time of story. OK?

So we have a much-shrunken human population living in the ruins of their grandparents' civilization. Not only do they face problems of food production (industrial agriculture and distribution is gone; new patterns of land use urgently need to be established), there will be contention for resources... and yes, there will be contemporary equivalents of the Comanches, Mongols, or Mad Max gangs; but I am specifically ignoring them because this is only an example and not an actual story setting.

Now here's where it gets interesting. The pandemic that wiped out most of humanity didn't affect the vampires. The vampire population hasn't been much diminished. However, now we are looking at an entire species (in ecological terms) that can no longer remain hidden: they have to change their mode of predation because their attacks could no longer be concealed in the vast masses of humanity. (Not unlike the Kriegsmarine in World war II switching from lone U-Boat deployments to wolfpack tactics in response to an increasingly well-defended, target-poor environment.)

Instead of stealthy attacks against isolated individuals, vampires now attack, at night of course, in overt gang assaults. Mostly they don't turn their victims - too many vamps in the world already - they just need the blood.

So. What kind of human society will develop?

  • First, we're looking at more or less independent food production - field agriculture, gardening, animal husbandry. The vampire threat makes nighttime fortresses imperative; old buildings would be some of the likeliest. So, the core community of human society would be a vampire-defensible stronghold with contiguous agriculture.

  • Next, the vampire threat imposes some hard limits on the size of such communities. If the community is too small, there won't be enough people to work the fields/gardens in the daytime, and keep watch at night. On the other hand, if communities become too large, you lose the ability to know everybody personally. Mutual scrutiny, to identify bite victims or Renfields, would be a necessary part of survival. My experience as a sailor suggests that the limit here is something like 60 people: with a crew bigger than that, you just don't know everybody. You may know their names, but you can't reliably detect false notes in their behavior.

  • These communities would depend on salvage and scavenging. Rediscovery of more context-appropriate fabrication skills (blacksmithing, joinery, ceramics etc) has, at time of story, not progressed too far. (The benefit of a plague scenario is that there's a lot of stuff left behind with a rapid die-off.) Accordingly, communities without ready access to salvage sites would depend on itinerant salvage/tinker people - individuals or groups - for access to the leftover resources of industrialism.

That's the basic socioeconomic framework. Given that, let's introduce an actual example of the variability contingent on small changes in the specifics of the world.

EXAMPLE: WHAT DO VAMPIRES DO IN DAYTIME?

There's a general consensus (excepting the dumb as hell Twilight series, I guess) that vampires are very limited in daytime. In Dracula (the book) the Count is unable to move to defend himself when Jonathan Stoker opens the casket and hits the him with a shovel. In many other traditions, sunlight is actually destructive to the vampire: vamps burn up, or are at least badly scalded, when the sun hits them. What are the implications of choosing one or the other?

This simple difference would have a very significant effect on the human society, because it directly affects the offensive/defensive strategy of the humans.

CASE #1: Comatose by day

If the vampires are unable to awaken or move by day, they are incredibly vulnerable. A small, skilled, capable band of humans could wreak havoc in a nest of vampires: if you can kill any guardian Renfields (or human mercenaries), you can simply go from coffin to coffin, staking, beheading, or burning as necessary. In other words, humans would have an effective offensive strategy.

As for the vampires, their responsive strategy would be to disperse as much as possible, or else to establish such powerfully defended nests that the human teams would be foiled.

CASE # 2: Active by day, just staying out of the sunlight

This makes for an entirely different situation. A nest of awakened vampires, underground or otherwise out of the sunlight, would be far too formidable. Humans would not find it practical to assemble teams of hunter/killers, and would need to concentrate on defense.

Consequences for human society

These consequences would be remarkable.

  • In case #2, the communities described above would be unable to offer mutual defense. If vampires are attacking your stronghold some night, you can't expect your neighbors to ride to the rescue, unless they have remarkably powerful anti-vampire combat capabilities that would keep them reasonably safe during the ride. The implication: defensive communities would be much more isolated and independent.

  • By contrast, in Case #1, there would be a strong incentive for communities to collaborate to provide economic support for special-forces-type hunter/killer teams. As with the armored knights of medieval times, you need a large base to feed and equip a healthy individual whose only task is specialized fighting. Remember, the agricultural efficiency of the community is much reduced by the need for night watch and general defensive work. Removing a strong, healthy individual from the labor pool to perform specialist work is going to be a notable burden on a community of, say, 50 people.

So, let's develop that a bit.

In case #2, human societies would be small, communal, vulnerable to cultural and genetic drift.

We could probably extrapolate a high level of egalitarianism: When the vamps manage to break in in the middle of the night, everybody's staking. You don't care whether the person who destroys a vamp is male, female, old, young, a brawny blacksmith or a cook's helper. (Again, some personal experience here: when there's a fire on a boat or small ship, nobody hangs back. Everybody's got a job to do.)

Contacts between the communities and the outside world would presumably be largely confined to the aforementioned tinkers / salvagers.

This would tend to create a fragile, tenuous system, in which any kind of technological advances would be rare and slowly disseminated.

In case #1, by contrast, an economic and political arrangement like manorialism & feudalism would probably develop, simply for the purpose of being able to establish, feed, and direct those small, highly mobile teams of vampire killers.

Politically, this would probably lead to much tighter relations between groups of communities. It would tend to develop the fractal structure of the feudal model, in order to aggregate surplus to the necessary level of organization.

Socially, the feudal model tends to create much stronger class stratification, more distinct gender roles, and everything that goes with that. There would also be a much more favorable environment for scholarship, technological advances, and a more fertile matrix of social exchange.


So: there's the example, Michael. May you, and any other readers, forgive the length of it. Also, I hope you don't loathe vampire stories, or find the prospect of a deindustrial future unendurable. It's only an example. ;-)

Starting with a simple mash-up of postapocalyptic SF and traditional vampire fiction, I think I managed to demonstrate that a small detail of the predator species's characteristics - in this case, do vampires become forcibly unconscious during daytime? - can have remarkable effects on the answer to your question. In order to get there, though, I had to answer certain basic questions about agriculture and the development of a salvage economy.

If this example serves to illuminate the kind of interacting feedback characteristics that this sort of worldbuilding question demands, then it was well worth writing.

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Well, I've lived in situations where dangerous animals were common including rattlesnakes, cougars, coyotes, feral dogs etc. Waking up one morning camping and finding cougar tracks on a little hump not 20ft from my tent where the cougar obviously crouched and well, thought a bit, was sobering.

In the main, people learn to pay attention to their surroundings; no headphones, or getting fixated on any one thing. Move one's head and attention constantly as you move. Shift from looking down to the ground nearby to looking out to the horizon. Look left and right, then scan along eye level, turn to the sides and periodically turn around and look behind you. In groups, each individual has a sector they are responsible for. It's a lot like a squad moving in the military.

Humans have no real threatening predators left, we have to stop ourselves from accidentally wiping out species now rather than cower from them. People will try to pet wild predators for bleep-sake. Sure a bear, lion etc can pick one of us off if it it gets lucky, but that is because we as a society accept the risk to keep bears around. Back when bears, wolves etc poised real danger to lives and livelihoods, they didn't last long.

"Homo homini lupus (Man is Wolf to Man)"

So, we have to look at human-to-human predation for models.

Historical people threatened with non-specific attacks would be armed and independent minded, willing to take instant action without approval from authority and often openly scornful authority that seldom arrived in time to help ("Nice of you to eventually show up.") At the same time, highly cooperative with peers, especially neighbors and able to spontaneously organize on large scales to meet threats without central planning and control or practice.

Basically, your typical American frontier community from 1780-1880.

Example: During the time of the Republic of Texas, the Dictator Santa Anna broke the treaty and constantly harassed Texans on the frontier either paying "bandits" to raid and kidnap or giving guns to the Comanche who where doing a little empire Lebensraum project on their own. But they didn't stop there. After a religion shift they came to believe that all the land they could ride over belonged to them and that everyone else where trespassers who could be killed at will. They felt morally entitled to raid, burn, plunder, rape, enslave, torture and murder any who they rode across, often for no discernible practical reason. They road hundreds of miles from their base territory in parts of modern Kansas, Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma to attack deep into the Republic of Texas based around Austin.

The Comanche were the best light calvary since the Mongols able to travel 80 miles a day or more on a string of ponies. They appeared suddenly without warning at isolated First American villages and white and hispanic farms, killing entire families, often by torture and rape, killing all the domestic animals except the horses they took, (often burned the family dog alive) burned the buildings and dumped bodies down the well to contaminate them. They could do all that in less than an hour, before neighbors even new what happened. Then they road off 40 miles or more outstripping any pursuit. They often took children, especially teenage girls, as slaves. Whites and Hispanics were lucky. The Comanche exterminated at least a dozen smaller settled first American nations in the buffer zone between the Republic of Texas and the Comanche homeland farther north.

Probably the most horrific of the First American wars.

Although the attackers were humans, for families and individuals living spread out, on the central Texas frontier it would have felt like being in danger of some powerful an unpredictable predator who could strike and disappear with impunity.

The response to both bandits and Comanche was heavier armament of households and the construction of strong points. The round stone barns of central Texas where one of the responses. Basically a "safe room" where families and stock could retreat and defend. (A lot of early German immigrants to Texas were German pacifists and didn't defend themselves violently, so they fortified and when that failed, their Scotts-Irish neighbors avenged them.) The offensive took the form of the Rangers, groups of highly mobile, heavily armed volunteers who tried to track and intercept the Comanche either coming or going.

A natural predator would likely provoke a similar response.

Whenever a society is attacked from a generalized threat with no specific locus, it tends to coordinate on the local level, decentralized at an intermediate level but foster wider but weaker corporation on the higher level over wider areas. You can see this in the response of late Roman Britain to the Irish Reavers and later to the response the Saxons to the Vikings. Even the Rus decentralized to try and deal with the super mobile Tartars who were themselves highly decentralized and flexible.

For a story based on this scenario, the real trick would be designing a predator that poised a serious threat but which couldn't be easily wiped out by coordinated human action. Humans wiped out all the macro forms, including saber-tooth tigers, dire wolves, cave bears etc with little more than sticks, flint and fire. Modern humans would not take very long at all to wipe out any merely natural predator.

You'd need something that wasn't just deadly and hard to kill, but fast and impossible to localize.

The American Army finally dealt with the Comanche not by defeating them militarily, but by wiping out the buffalo they depended on as a moving food source. As long as the buffalo roamed, the Comanche could not be brought to fight save on their terms. Once the buffalo were shot out they were helpless. A super predator would face the same threat of being attacked in directly. It have to be fairly independent from any ecosystem that could be destroyed as an indirect means of killing it.

If you think about it, the classical dragon story is really about an Apex predator to medieval humans. It flys, so they can not pursue it. It is heavily armored, and has a breath weapon they can't match. Going up against a dragon with an army just gives it a bigger target. If the dragon was not interested in gold and princesses, but just eating livestock and people, and if there were more than one, things would get ugly.

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Wolves, Lions and Tigers have all found humans to be a food source throughout our history, The sabre-tooth Tiger had to be an absolute terror. Humanity had been on the food docket for quite a while and we certainly didn't start out as the dominate species.

What I'm guessing you really mean is what would be different if humans were a normal source of food for another predator, where maybe even a 1000 years ago we were still frequently hunted and eaten?

While people still do get attacked and eaten by wild predators even today, the big thing to realize is that one of the things that generally has taken us off the menu, is us. We make it very difficult to take us on. We also as a species tend to retaliate and kill those animals that kill our own.

This is part of being self-aware. We understand Cause and Effect. We don't like the effects? Stop the cause. So the reason we generally are not attacked and eaten is we kill and often wipe out those animals that have shown a willingness to kill and eat us. We have 'trained' wolves and such to leave people alone by killing off those that don't. A form of evolution in action. The predators that leave us alone survive.

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  • $\begingroup$ You make a good point, but to borrow your analogy for a moment, you seem to be answering a question about the effect whereas I am asking about cause. You are talking (in a slightly roundabout way, but that's okay) about what has caused predators to not hunt humans in large numbers, whereas the question (as you have even surmised) indeed is about what (aspects of society) would be different if humans were a common food for other species. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 5 '14 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling True, trying to answer your question, brought me to this conclusion. That sentient species would take steps to take themselves off any menu they found themselves on. Unless they had a high reproduction rate and found it easier to let nature sort out the young or some other similar situation. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Dec 5 '14 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ Even then, that would just mean that they don't consider their sprats "human". But at some point of development they would start to protect them as part of the group. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Dec 5 '14 at 18:26
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As Michael Bickley already outlined, taken at face value, the world would be exactly the same because humans aren't apex predators. We became such through the use of tools.

So I'm assuming that there is a sudden change that removes us from that position. Oh, look, lots of movies have been made about that idea. Zombie Apocalypse or Phantoms from the Final Fantasy movie, or most alien invasion movies ever made.

Final Fantasy comes closest, or even parts of Matrix. What would human society look like if we had an enemy we cannot defeat? We would hide, like all small prey animals. Live underground, invisible, away from our predators.

Within society, there are no necessary changes. Many small animals are quite aggressive amongst each others or towards even smaller animals. In fact, since as said in the beginning, we are not apex predators, our instinctive reactions and social behavior is already closer to cats (another middle-ground predator) than bears or sharks (apex predators).

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Frankly, I don't see this persisting for long. As soon as some apex predator starts killing humans, humans will work out how to eliminate the threat, one way or another.

A race descended from a herd animal, say, might have a different attitude and defend rather than attack, but then you have a situation where for all practical purposes the herd critters are dominant in their range, having pushed the predators away.

The only race I have ever read about that allowed this was from a classic Stanley Weinbaum story "The Lotus Eaters" where a plant intelligence was found. They knew just about everything, but some predator would carry them off and eat them because they had no drive and didn't give a darn.

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One example of a believable non-predator sentient, dominant species in a biosphere is Larry Niven's Puppeteers.

Biologically, Puppeteers are highly intelligent herbivores; a herd animal, Puppeteers prefer the company (and smell) of their own kind.......

Socially, two notable traits of Puppeteers are their racial/cultural penchant for cowardice and their tendency to congregate in herds. The cowardice is thought in Puppeteer society to originate with the Puppeteer instinct for turning one's back on danger. However, the trait is thought by many to actually originate from their herd instinct, as the instinct to turn one's back is linked to an instinct to kick the hind hoof at an attacker.

Much like the meerkat example, if humans were not apex predators, they would probably attempt to flee from danger far more often than fight it. The "fight or flight" response would probably degenerate to a "flight-only" response, as there will be no means for them to take out a predator.

As herding and group dynamics evolved, they might allow the species to develop advanced techniques to counteract predators, such as signalling systems to avoid predators, or even exterminating them using advanced technology.

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Edit prompted by comment of L.Dutch, to better reflect the question.

Apex-predatoryness and dominance are two largely unlinked concepts. Consider the Great White sharks: We are total a**holes to them, but that is not because we want to eat them (no appreciable part of them anyways) - we want them as trophies, we fear them, we are bored, we are wasteful - sharks die.

Humans, even if they were complete herbivores, would still be humans (otherwise why call them humans? If you think herbivore bipedal beings would be bovine, docile, whatever, you conflate predatordom with other traits that in reality do not follow). Societies are mostly products of very specific circumstances: The Aztecs seem to have had a very different society from the early SriLankan societies, yet they were on a similar tech level, had comparable climates, and biologically near-identical human beings to work from (and both hat man-eaters in their biome). ---- there are several current communities that are located in biomes that contain man-eaters: there are still tigers and lions about. Apart from some technicalities about going out alone after dark, the traits those communities exhibit are not statistically more different compared to non-threatened communities than non-threatened comunities are among each other.

Humans would have killed most of the apex predators above them in the food-net (not eaten them - that would have made them apex predators themselves), saved a few for the zoos and then wondered that they withered and died.

Humans would overwhelm with numbers, poison, trick, burn, trap and generally bring their whole lethality to bear until no appreciable predator was left in the adjacent food-net. Higher numbers of Great Whites would survive, because humans don't live in the ocean. ---- The only weapon humans would not be able to bring to bear is the outcompeting of other predators - to starve them we'd have to cull the prey of those predators without direct nutritional gain to ourselves. I think we'd manage (\s)

Why am i writing "would"? Humans did. Sabretooths, Cave bears, they all went extinct, not because we absolutely wanted to eat them, but because that made the neighborhood safer. Sure, there are stil a few man-eaters around, and every once in a while humans do get eaten, but it's rare. --- Not eating meat does not equate not being capable of seeing blood - elephants are strict herbivores, but if angered they will crush a fool. --- Warfare is intra-species violence that has (in humans) nothing to do with nutrition-by-foe. It has to do with ressources, with societal pressures, but it is not about eating your enemy - so that aspect of humans would also stay. Look at herbivores fighting for a good spot on the grass, or a sexual partner - there is nothing specific to carnivores in terms of violence.

Now if your question was what would have happened if humans were not the dominant species of intelligent community builders - and the other species was carnivore, while humans were not - that's a completely different question, the answer to which will completely depend on the exact traits of the dominant species you envisage - they will shape the ecological niches that humans then would compete for; You'd also have to explain how humans evolved as humans - we can power that wasteful brain of ours, because "big-brains" is the ecological niche we dominate - in the long run there always is just one species per ecological niche, that is what makes it a niche.

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    $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '18 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ I tried to answer the question (my answer is: It would not have changed human society), while also explaining why the flaws in the question make answering arbitrary. $\endgroup$ – bukwyrm Apr 20 '18 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ If you think the answer cannot be objectively answered, vote to close as opinion based and don't answer. If you think it can be improved, comment it. If it can be answered, type the answer. If you mix all of these, it's hard to understand. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '18 at 9:25

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