There's not much on this, so I'm winging it. Plus, I'm curious to see if this species could actually succeed in advancing to the Stone Age.

Basically, a species that I have created (the Verrisirs) evolved on the planet Vixeruka (I described some characteristics of the planet in this question: Planet with two moons and rings? Is it possible? ). Now, the planet being a tropical rain forest world (not 100% tropical, since it would be realistically impossible, we could say that Vixeruka is 69% rain forest, 10% savanna, 6% desert, 5% arctic, and 10% mountain for simplicity's sake). Now, the Verrisirs are a caninoid race (humanoid canines).

When designing them....

Okay, I'll be honest here, I picked things that I thought would be cool and make them unique.

  • Digitigrade: this seems to be a feature common among a good many predators (not all, but ones like canines and felines come to mind).

  • Claws: The claws would be useful in both combat, hunting, and climbing trees. Yes, you have dogs that can climb trees. While I read a question someone posted here that such a canine would probably evolved into a primate (if I'm understanding his answer correctly). Personally, I don't see that happening, since it would involve other factors. What those factors are I don't know, so this might need some more thought.

  • Thin: They would be "thin". Meaning, that their bodies lack a subcutaneous layer usually common among humans and other humanoid species. This can serve as a determent for adapting to different climates. And while they aren't as strong as humans, they do have the advantage of being fast, nimble, and agile, which would make them able to chase down prey or escape other predators. I can see Verrisirs being descended from predators that are both stalk and ambush predators as well as pack-oriented predators.

  • Large, triangular-shaped ears: Similar to other canines, a Verrisir's ears would be able to give them four to five times the hearing ability of a human. Although this does also present a drawback as well, especially in regards to sonic weaponry (my opinion is that races that have a stronger sense of hearing would be vulnerable to high frequency attacks/weapons, such as those using sonic technologies). In addition, the ears would allow them to both display emotions (depressed/sad: the ears sink downward; angry/mad/enraged: the ears would bend back slightly) and be capable of responding to sounds around them (by twisting or moving).

  • Sense of Smell: Canines possess extremely superior sense of smell, so it made sense to have Verrisirs also possess this. Unlike most humans, a wolf for example, would be able to tell the different spices and ingredients used in a stew from each other, even after the stew was made. This to me is a useful ability and would greatly aid a species, and thus I gave this to the Verrisirs.

  • Fur: Verrisirs have oily fur, similar to that of certain dog breeds as well as jaguars and tigers, which aids them in swimming and keeps them from being slowed down by wet fur. Not to mention, a lot of rain forests tend to have a lot of rain.

  • Sight: Canines have excellent night vision (the cat actually is better though). While the planet does have a lot of light due to the rings and two moons, there would be places deep in the jungles and swamps that would get little to no light so having the ability to see in the dark would be quite advantageous. So, instead of canine vision, Verrisirs would have feline vision (in addition to the slit pupils of felines as well).

  • Pack Society: Pretty self-explanatory with this one. Strength and safety in numbers would greatly prove advantageous to the Verrisirs.

Another aspect that I thought would make them unique would be their blood. I did a good bit of research on this now. Cobalt was the mineral I researched. So, they use cobalt to bond with oxygen atoms in the same way we use iron to bond with oxygen atoms.

Here are some other (and I think minor) details about the Verrisirs:

  • Strong muzzles: Think of their muzzles being similar in biting power similar to wolves and jaguars

  • Three fingers and a thumb: This on each hand now. Not sure if this would present a disadvantage or advantage or not really matter

  • Able to run on all fours: This would mean that they have pads on the palms of their hands. It would also mean that they could switch between walking on two legs or running in the wild on all fours.

My question is what factors would enable them to reach the stone age successfully? Thank you.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The ability to form group culture and stone working are the hallmarks of the human stone age. Stone working might be a bit harder with arms specialized from running rather than brachiating - They wouldn't have as much range of motion as a human's. Fire is another big one, as it makes more calories in food available, so you can hunt less and think more. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ Just curious, I saw that in your previous question you said the planet could possibly have less gravity but you were still looking into it. Have you considered what the atmospheric composition and atmospheric pressure would be like too? Could effect the evolution. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3, 2017 at 3:43
  • $\begingroup$ @IsaacKotlicky Your comment looks like a good start for a full-fledged answer. Could you flesh it out and post it as a complete answer? $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ @SCPilot You might want to remove the first paragraph. What you are asking in the first paragraph is "Could my species become the dominant species?" whereas your last paragraph states the question as "What factors are needed to reach the stone age?". This lead to some confusion about the answer from sphennings. Please clarify by editing your question and either removing for example the first paragraph or explaining how this correlates with the last paragraph. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 13:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Basically you have designed carnivorous nocturnal baboons. Oh and body mass may be important, as you get larger being a good climber, especially with claws, precludes being a good runner, the hip structure needed is too different. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 1:26

3 Answers 3


There is one obvious characteristic your Verrisirs will have to lose. Namely, their strong muzzles. The problem is that the structures, bones and muscles, necessary to support a muzzle, will restrict the size of the cranium. This means a smaller brain, and therefore, a brain less likely to evolve intelligence.

This tendency can be seen in proto-hominids and hominid evolution where as the size of prolonged jaws and protruding lower facial structures were reduced the corresponding size of the brain and the cranium containing it increased.

While this may seem like a minor change, after all strong muzzles sound like a great idea, but they are a barrier to bigger brains. This makes it less likely they will evolve to a stage where they can have a Stone Age. Hopefully this isn't biggest change you need to make to your Verrisirs. Otherwise they sound like interesting aliens.

  • $\begingroup$ you could have both large brain and strong muzzles, but it will give them HUGE heads. comically large even. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ What about something like this: nswiki.org/images/Ikrisiaswim.jpg It gives canine-like humanoids a distinctive appearance. It also adds to the fact that nature has a bit of sense of humor or that nature favors bestial and fierce appearances when it comes to predators. So, in other words, it could in fact so that a larger head means a larger brain, although that doesn't always means a larger brain equates being smarter. Look at Neanderthals. $\endgroup$
    – SCPilot
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ @SCPilot Irrespective of head size, it's the relative size of the muzzle that constricts the brain size. The cute caninoid hominid in her swimwear would be pretty dumb -- her muzzle is too big for an adequate brain. You can't beat anatomy. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Interesting. But just curious here, but how would it be possible to have both a muzzle and still have an adequate brain? Would shorting the muzzle to a point where the Verrisirs would still have muzzles, but be short enough to still have an adequate brain? Or is it just the muzzle itself that restricts the evolution of adequate brain power? For example, like John said, you could have both a large brain and strong muzzles, but you would have comically large heads? If you look at the pic, the head isn't too big. I guess. $\endgroup$
    – SCPilot
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ @SCPilot It's the muzzle itself and the supporting structure of muscle and bone to rstricts cranial capacity. The evidence for this is human evolution. As prognathous features, basically large jaws and protruding lower skull structures, grew smaller cranial capacity and brain size increased. The picture is clear: her muzzle is far too big for a large brain. Primates have muzzles. Humans are primates too. Look at how big your muzzle is, that's the muzzle size your caninoids need to have human level intelligence. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 1:20

I think, to reach the stone age, your animals need to be less capable, so that intelligence, planning, and strategy become more of a factor in their survival.

Compared to other animals, humans are muscularly weak, terrible runners, have pitiful claws and canines, weak bite strength, are extremely un-stealthy, we have a pitiful olfactory sense, we don't even have good night-vision or day-vision compared to many birds and other animals.

How, for your caninoids, is a cutting stone edge better than their own claws and teeth? It is an obvious advantage for our human ancestors; not obvious at all for a canine that can outrun, outfight, and bite-cut the throats of prey up to and including the size of earthly elk and buffalo.

You need some reason for their brains and foresight to be necessary to their survival and growth; and by building them like battle tanks, you remove all those reasons.

Think of intelligence as being a progression toward better mental simulation of the future; an ability to imagine how things will turn out. We humans can imagine the future in such detail that we can build lakes, dams, skyscrapers and roads that cross significant stretches of the planet. But it is intelligence that simulates turning a round stone into a sharp blade; or lets us affix such a blade to a stick as a spear point, that imagines plunging that spear into a rhino while avoiding being killed by it. Metaphorically speaking, this is how the mouse kills the lion: better prediction of how the lion will act, materials will behave, and physics will play out to trap and kill the beast. Intelligence is the ultimate weapon that beats the most fearsome non-mental biological advantages, by letting the intelligent avoid and thwart them.

To get to the stone age, your species needs a reason that their physical attributes are not enough to win and they will go extinct if they don't gain intelligence. You need an evolutionary pressure that threatens their existence, over a long enough term for intelligence to grow. For humans with almost zero battle ability as our naked selves, that was an easy call; almost everything could kill us, and the slightest intelligence advantage led to a better chance of our survival, and because we are so weak and imperfect every slight increase led to more survival. There is no such evolutionary pressure on top physicality predators; the shark survives and reproduces just fine by brute force alone, higher intelligence would cost the shark more calories than it would ever gain them. (Only intelligent humans threaten the survival of sharks.) At best, the intelligence is fairly short term strategic trapping in big cats and canine species. Notice that animals as intelligent as dolphins do not have a lot of physical battle instruments: no claws, poor teeth, bad eyesight, no armoring. Intelligence is critical to their survival.

As appealing as you may find a tough caninoid that can hold its own without tools against a tiger, you have to give them a serious existential problem that claws, night-vision, muscles, biting strength, speed, etc simply cannot solve. They need to get smarter, over tens of thousands of years, for a good survival reason. Otherwise there is no reason for them to get smart enough to be able to imagine days ahead in the future, spending weeks and months without any immediate reward to learn to manufacture a tool for some imagined future use, even a simple stone tool.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you, but one hint: brains and foresight don't need to be necessary. It is sufficient if they are advantageous enough. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki : Perhaps; in my research evolution is pretty brutal in it's enforcement of "use it or lose it", like the eyes if salamanders in caves, the loss of legs in snakes, whales and dolphins. a 3lb brain is 1.5% of body weight but burns 20% of body calories; 13.5x as much. It is expensive. If survival and reproduction are possible with less brain power, then less it will be. I mean necessary in the sense if an advantage delivers better surv & repr then that advantage is lost if intelligence declines, and new advantages are gained if intelligence increases: Necessary to sustain the new level. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Humans are actually excellent distance runners (few animals beat us, and none in the African savanna were we evolved), and absolutely unbeatable at long distance walking. You must realize that before we became god-like we were just animals like any other, and we did have our niche -- we must have been good at something. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 18:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AlexP: That is true. In fact an adaptation that lets us BE long distance runners is the loss of fur and development of sweat glands: canines have none, they can only cool off by panting. An early hunting strategy of our ancestors was simply chasing an animal until it had a heat stroke and fell down, dead or incapacitated. They never fought it at all; just chased it to death. We could only do that due to our superior cooling system. I don't know about "unbeatable" walking; many migratory quadrupeds seem to walk all day, every day. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Humans also have extremely good day vision, better than almost any other mammal. a race with cat like eyes however will have crap day-vision (the adaptations for night vision means blurry day-vision) and little colorvision. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 1:20

Sure why not.

Unless you really want to obsess over the nuances of evolution and the nature of sapience. I'm pretty sure any audience that is going to buy into psionics is going to accept anthropomorphic wolves as human stand ins with little trouble.

Humans made it to the stone age. Your bipedal wolfbeings with opposable thumbs and human level intelligence should be able do so too.

  • $\begingroup$ That's true. Also, they're more fox-like (or vulpine-like if you will) than wolf-like (lupine-like). $\endgroup$
    – SCPilot
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ How does “sure why not” answer “what factors would…?” ? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 5:21
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Your answer is currently in the low-quality review queue. You might want to focus on the factors involved in reaching the stone age. Your last paragraph seems to answer that question, but the beginning sounds like you are going to answer the question "Is it believable that they achieved the stone age?" rather than discussing what is needed. Furthermore the OP said to "please don't factor the psionics into the equation" so you might want to skip that point in your explanation. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Secespitus I was reading the second sentence of the question as a strong indicator of what the OP was actually wanting to know. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Interesting, that is indeed a bit confusing. I focused on the last paragraph "My question is what factors would enable them to reach the stone age successfully? Thank you." when writing that comment, as this looks like the real question and the first paragraph looks more like "I had this idea so I am going to ask a few questions about it". According to the upvotes on my comment and the fact that your answer was/is(?) in the low-quality queue others seem to have interpreted the question body in a similar way. $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 13:55

You must log in to answer this question.

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