I'm creating a pre-history world to attempt to demonstrate an alternative sequence of events. I would like natural forces to somehow make natural selection view intelligence/technology as inferior. At current, it all seems too predictable; the most technologically advanced tribe always wins.
If the earth gets hot, burrow underground. If the earth gets cold, weave some fur. If you can't fend off scavengers, drag the kill up a tree. Intelligence has an answer for almost everything and it gets to the point where it is almost boring. It seems the only thing that can challenge intelligence is being more intelligent. However, I would like to challenge this notion.
Time after time in natural history, the primitive species yield to the more cognitively developed competitor species. Additionally, the few primitive species that remain in strong numbers today tend to be rather smart for their genus. There are a few exceptions to this generalization, but let me list some examples to land my point:
- Thylacosmilus (marsupial sabertooth, late Pliocene) presumed to have gone extinct from conflict with sabertooths (who had more developed brains)
- Neanderthals, though their brains were bigger in terms of sheer volume, their technology was thought to be inferior and went extinct.
- One of the oldest species on earth, crocodiles, have primitive reptilian brains, but in general terms are some of the smartest lizards on the planet.
In my pre-history world, I would like to see what it would take to undo this trend. It seems to be a bit of a tall order, at times I can't think of anything other than smiting Prometheus down with a strike of lightning before he gets a chance to share his discovery. Hopefully the community here will be able to help in this regard...
Question: What could nature throw into the mix to make intelligence or technology an evolutionary disadvantage? Such that brute strength, brute endurance, brute whatever would be more effective than thinking through natures challenges.
- Era: About 2 million years ago (Pleistocene)
- Natural Forces: By this I mean geologic things like climate, weather and tectonics, but also species/ecosystem forces like competition, reproduction rate, ect
- Intelligence Threshold: Presumably a dominant species would have to be at least intelligent enough to perceive its surroundings. The species that results from your natural forces answer doesn't have to be brain-dead, but intelligence would not be its defining characteristic.
- Realistic Threshold: I want to keep it fairly realistic, but freak occurrences in nature to a moderate degree will be acceptable.