I request some help with the design of one particular denizen of my fantasy world, tentatively named Boar Troll. It needs to be an ungulate or closely related creature with emerging sentience, and that's as far as I am right now. In fact, some of its requirements happened while drafting this question.

enter image description here

I want to go from some member of the mesonychia order about 25-30 MYA to the creature described below. What real though extinct species might have gotten started on this path? Where would this creature's evolution have split from the real world? What living species might it best resemble (i.e. ox, sheep, warthog, etc.)

These are the desired characteristics, though none of this is set in stone.

Physical traits

  • Bi-pedal preferred, knuckle-walking acceptable
  • Prehensile hands
  • Foot structure negotiable, but bonus points for hooves
  • Tusks (or horns/antlers, or both, but tusks preferred)
  • Carnivorous/ opportunistic diet (and the proper senses and dentition that go with it.)
  • Muscular build, barrel chest
  • Tail optional
  • Cathemeral (has activity periods and rest periods in both day and night)
  • Lives in deciduous forest, savannah/ grassland, and/or wetland biomes

Social Structure

  • Semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes
  • Engages in religious rituals
  • Rudimentary language (i.e. can count none, one, some, many)
  • Wears an animal hide loincloth and simple bone/stone jewelry
  • Will raid farms for livestock and even the human farmers
  • Makes and uses spear- and ax-like tools during hunts (or steals them from humans)

Further Notes

Please do not get too hung up on the name Boar Troll, nor either image. I needed a name and mental concept for rough drafts and this is what came to me. Answers here could influence the final name and appearance.

EDIT: New prototype sketch based on current answers, especially IndigoFenix:

Boar Troll Prototype sketch

(end EDIT)

Inspiration for the Boar Troll includes Tolkien's orcs, Paolini's ra'azak, and Sanderson's koloss. However, I also want to clearly differentiate them from anyone else.

Boar Trolls may be mentioned tangentially in a handful of stories, but their central role will happen during a succession crisis where a corrupt cousin of the would-be rightful heir captures some and trains them under the whip. Blah blah blah minion horde blah blah reign of terror blah blah comeuppance.

This question is a proud alumnus of The Worldbuilding Sandbox and part of the Anatomically Correct Series.

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    $\begingroup$ I see no reason for it not to be a part to the anatomically correct series, if you want me to edit it I will. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ We had a question some months ago (as I recall) about carnivores having antlers. IIRC, the consensus was that antlers is a property of prey, not predators, as their use is primarily defensive. So I suspect you can't have this creature both being carnivorous and having antlers. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling but wild boars, who are omnivorous, have tusks which are similar to antlers and horns. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @cobaltduck also I think that the "boar troll" is close end to creature s like the orc or gnoll that it should count. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ a carnivorous animal can be both prey and predator at the same time, being able to digest other animals doesn't make you immune to being killed. $\endgroup$
    – Charon
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 17:08

2 Answers 2


When it comes to the evolution of 'beastmen', I've often considered it much more realistic to start with a hominid and find a reason to give it animal features than to start from your base animal and find a reason for it to become both sapient and humanoid. When you get right down to it, a boar-troll is basically just a human with a piggish face and tusks - all you really need to do is adjust the morphology of a human face and you're golden.

That being said, despite being common in fantasy settings, evolving a humanoid with a pig's face is tricky no matter which kind of creature you want to start with. The flat snout and tusks that define a pig's face are mostly adapted for digging and rooting around in the soil, something that's hard to connect with a bipedal lifestyle. Tusks, at the very least, are useful for fighting, even so, most animals that have them use them primarily for digging, fighting being a secondary feature (fangs are more suitable for straight fighting).

One possibility is to have the creature use its tusks for breaking open trees in order to get at healthy insects underneath the bark. Perhaps they do this while climbing, so their hands are usually occupied.

Alternatively, maybe their ancestors hunted pigs, so those who could blend in easier were more successful hunters. If a boar-person is hiding in the brush and sticks his head out to get a closer look at his quarry, the pig might not realize it isn't another pig until his whole body emerges, giving him a head start.

The best answer, though, is probably the old evolutionary handwave of sexual selection. If the ancestral boarfolk women find men with big tusks and piggy snouts attractive for whatever reason, over time the species will grow more piggish. This works well with the typical subversion of beauty standards trope, as boar-folk will likely still find the same features attractive and will consider humans ugly.


Since you're insistent on it evolving from a non-hominid, let me direct your attention to Chalicotherium, or as I'd like to nickname it, "Gorilla Horse". It was a large browser that fed by rearing up on its hind legs and using its modified hands to pull itself up onto tree trunks and pull leaves down. Although it was a member of the odd-toed ungulates (and likely started with a longer neck that could reasonably eat low branches already), it is possible that a pig relative could evolve into something similar if it started by placing its hooves against trees and scraping off bark with its tusks to get at insects, as mentioned above. Chalicotherium probably didn't use its front legs for digging (some scientists thought it might but its teeth don't show signs of eating dirt-covered foods), but a pig version of it might be an opportunist that could both dig up roots and feed on bark, insects, and branches. From that point, it could develop tool use, intelligence, a hunting lifestyle, and full bipedalism the same way humans did. (Hey, pigs are already pretty smart, so you've got a head-start.)

The question concerning why it would retain a pig's snout and tusks after it stopped using its face as a digging implement still applies, but the reasoning used with hominids still works.

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    $\begingroup$ Greetings. There is some good information here, so +1. However, "humanoid" is not one of my requirements, and in fact, I have specific reasons to not want all of my races to be primates. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @cobaltduck Humanoid basically means a biped with two legs and two arms and hands. "Humanoid boar" perfectly describes what you are looking for. Perhaps you mean you don't want it to be "hominid" (a member of the great apes family that includes humans)? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ You are correct about humanoid versus hominid, I didn't know how to phrase it well, thanks for that correction. Further, I think that (a descendant of) chalicotherium is 110% precisely what I was looking for! $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 12:14

To answer your question, I will go through the requirements step by step.

  1. Bipedalism, having a bipedal ungulate is not an easy task, but in a previous answer of mine I detailed how such a leg structure would be stable.
  2. Prehensile hands, this can be explained in many different ways, depending on how prehensile you want them to be. For the full human level, they will need to evolve as arboreal animals.
  3. Hooves, In the same answer as bipedalism, I also used hoove based feet.
  4. Tusks, this ties into point 5, a mainly scavenging carnivore would continue to benefit from tusks and therefore not Lowe them.
  5. Carnivorous, this does not need much explaining, crows and border collies are very smart and are mainly carnivorous.
  6. Broad chest, if they evolved for running as well as an arboreal lifestyle, (similar to Anatomically correct gnolls**) then they will likely have a broad chest, but at the cost of speed.
  7. Tail, if they become aggressive carnivores, then they will we this tails for balance when running, similar to a cheetah.
  8. Cathemeral, just have their metabolism so fast they have to be sporatically hunting.
  9. Biome, a creature like this will probably evolve into a Savannah environment near a jungle.

Everything else is culture related and does not need to be justified.


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