Just like my last post, I asked what if humans evolved from predators. So I have another question, what if we also evolved from herbivorous gorilla-like primates too?
closed as too broad by Mołot, James♦, Hohmannfan, Monty Wild♦, Frostfyre Jun 26 '17 at 12:23
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A Problem With the Premise
Getting fruits and vegetables is not very hard, and therefore doesn't reward smart animals very well. Those foods also require more work to sustain a creature.
Meat-eating gave use a food source which was more calorie-rich, therefore giving us a little surplus energy which we could spend on things like our brains. The further brain development may have allowed us to develop speech and other things which help humans conquer the world.
Also, one should note that eating insects does make you a meat-eater, from strict biological standpoint. Therefore gorillas, who eat insects (where available), and orangutans, who eat eggs, are meat-eating creatures. Consuming anything from Kingdom Animalia, except milk and honey, makes you a meat eater. (Sorry pescetarians, ovo-lacto vegetarians, but from a biological standpoint, you're not vegetarian!)
The Big Differences
So we need to assume some human-like creature evolved from a herbivorous, ape-like creature. There would be some basic differences:
- No canines or incisors, because it wouldn't need those teeth for eating meat. The teeth it does have needs to help with eating plants, be they cooked or otherwise.
- Altered digestive systems would also occur. It does not need the complicated meat-digesting enzymes us humans have, and may benefit from having a different digestive system. It would not be a ruminant, as apes do not possess this, but it may be taking steps in that direction.
- Dependency on a purely herbivorous diet would have limited how far and where humans could range. This certainly prevents cultures like the Inuit, who rely heavily on meat, and also limit what food sources are available to explorers, like pemmican.
Some attributes of humanity may not have developed, although I am not currently sure of this. Would some of them develop the mutation to drink milk after childhood? Would "white" be a skin color? Limited range means these mutations may have never occurred, or never provided any particular benefit and thus prevented their proliferation.