41 votes
Accepted

What can we eat in the late Cretaceous?

Water can likely be purified and sterilized sufficient to be safe for human consumption (and associated stuff, cooking with it, cleaning, etc). Food-wise, you're in a bit of a pickle... because there ...
user avatar
  • 9,898
35 votes

What Natural Forces could Make Intelligence/Technology a Disadvantage or at Least Inferior to Something Else?

What could nature throw into the mix to make intelligence or technology an evolutionary disadvantage? Starvation, and/or an easy life. Brains are extremely expensive; they consume 20% of your ...
user avatar
  • 28.7k
32 votes

Benefits of time-traveling back to the late Cretaceous period? Economic/financial, resource extraction etc

Getting the same thing over and over Since you're in the branching model, you really only need to find something once. For instance, say you find a diamond, or a large gold nugget, or anything else ...
user avatar
  • 10.8k
28 votes

Benefits of time-traveling back to the late Cretaceous period? Economic/financial, resource extraction etc

Dumping waste One of the biggest problems facing modern society is a lack of places to dump waste. This not only applies to traditional waste such as plastics, but also nuclear waste from nuclear ...
user avatar
  • 13.3k
27 votes
Accepted

What Natural Forces could Make Intelligence/Technology a Disadvantage or at Least Inferior to Something Else?

Some wonderful answers here that really got me pondering. I have a few ideas. Evolution is a robust thing. Specific traits, though, are fragile. Just because intelligence is an advantage in many ...
user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

How long could an operational Virginia-class sub survive in the Jurassic sea?

In addition to the food mentioned by James K, spares will become a problem sooner or later. Parts wear out. They are supposed to be replaced before they break. The sub has an engineering crew which ...
user avatar
  • 97.4k
25 votes

How long could an operational Virginia-class sub survive in the Jurassic sea?

The problem the crew will face is that during the Jurassic period the CO2 level of the atmosphere is 5-10 times higher (2000 - 4000 ppm) than the current level (400 ppm) and the oxygen content was on ...
user avatar
  • 14.5k
25 votes
Accepted

What is the closest Mesolithic/Neolithic peoples could get to making a flint-knapped "sword"?

There are a few options I can think of. Macuahuitl. A weapon used by the Aztecs (and others) which consisted of a wooden sword with the edges studded with obsidian (volcanic glass). Interestingly, ...
user avatar
  • 7,916
25 votes

If the Roman Empire in the Year 90 AD Found a Living Tyrannosaurus Rex, What Creature in Their Mythology Would They Most Likely Mistake It For?

Dragon The word Dragon comes from Ancient Greek mythology, where it is used to refer to a handful of different large reptiles. Ancient Greek was as much an auxiliary language to Latin, as Latin is to ...
user avatar
  • 38.7k
24 votes

What technologies could an every-man teach a Palaeolithic tribe?

By far the most important thing Jim can teach them is modern notions of sanitation. He will likely teach them some by example, i.e. the see him wash his hands before eating or after going to the ...
user avatar
  • 96.6k
23 votes

What can we eat in the late Cretaceous?

Turtles, crocodiles and snakes are consumed nowadays in some parts of the world, and as genus were present also back then, so they would be worth a try. They could probably manage to get something ...
user avatar
  • 238k
22 votes
Accepted

How might the actions of descendants matter for their ancestors? (reverse causality)

Nothing impossible may happen. In the C and C++ programming languages, there's such a thing called undefined behavior, where basically if the program performs certain illegal actions, it goes in an ...
user avatar
  • 1,428
21 votes

How long could an operational Virginia-class sub survive in the Jurassic sea?

Food is the limiting factor. The nuclear motor can operate for 25 years, and it has desalinators, active CO2 scrubbers and oxygenators to provide air and water for the crew for as long as it has ...
user avatar
  • 10.2k
20 votes

Does harmony have to be invented?

We can't go back in time but, as a musician I think I can answer. It doesn't have to be invented because it occurs naturally. When people chant together in a large group, they have different ...
user avatar
18 votes

How might the actions of descendants matter for their ancestors? (reverse causality)

That is simply not possible. Cause always precedes effect. The only way to change that would be to time travel (which OP excluded)
user avatar
  • 4,026
18 votes

How might the actions of descendants matter for their ancestors? (reverse causality)

One classic alternative to time travel is premonition. One of the ancestors is a seer, a person who can peer into the future. Given enough cooperation, the seer can replace the typical 'push' ...
user avatar
  • 5,438
18 votes

What is the closest Mesolithic/Neolithic peoples could get to making a flint-knapped "sword"?

Yes, this is a Mayan sword made of obsidian. Without hilt (probably wood) it is still 68 cm long (almost 27 inches), which makes it a sword and not a dagger. You just need a huge piece of obsidian ...
user avatar
18 votes

Do hunter-gatherers move or stay put in the winter?

If I check what the experts do, I would say: move before winter. And the experts in question are animals used to deal with winter. When they migrate, they do it before winter, so that they don't ...
user avatar
  • 238k
18 votes
Accepted

What's the oldest plausible frozen specimen for a Jurassic Park style story-line?

Permanent ice caps have not been a constant during Earth history. For example we know that in the past the poles were free from ice. Therefore the oldest possible frozen sample is as old as the ...
user avatar
  • 238k
18 votes

What can we eat in the late Cretaceous?

The place where you're most likely to find familiar animals is the sea. Sharks were present back then, in shapes and sizes pretty close to nowadays (as well as other shapes and sizes). Shark fin soup,...
user avatar
16 votes

What's the oldest plausible frozen specimen for a Jurassic Park style story-line?

The oldest frozen specimens would likely be roughly 15-30 million years old and would be whatever critters were on Antarctica during the Oligocene or early Miocene. Around that time, Antarctica ...
user avatar
  • 16.8k
15 votes
Accepted

How long would it take these two languages present in a common area over a LONG period of time to merge?

Usually you would get language shift. Austronesian languages are spoken in many parts of Melanesia by peoples who have little or no Austronesian ancestry. Here's a link with many real life examples. ...
user avatar
  • 17.5k
15 votes

Benefits of time-traveling back to the late Cretaceous period? Economic/financial, resource extraction etc

The Time Traveller's Gourmet Club Epicurean experiences unrivalled in our time. You have certainly never tasted fillet of stegosaur, or spicy archaeopteryx wings, or the delicate seafood delights of ...
user avatar
  • 3,557
14 votes
Accepted

How far in the past could unprepared humans survive?

Assuming they don't land on the polar ice caps, in the middle of a desert, or during winter and an ice age, they can survive up to 430 million years ago, the approximate time period of the evolution ...
user avatar
14 votes

Humans get knocked back into the stone age; would archeologists from 10,000 years in the future be able to tell that we existed?

Absolutely. The largest traces would be cities (it takes a lot to wipe out even a prehistoric settlement, and there's no way all modern cities could be thoroughly covered in sand). Then, mines: there ...
user avatar
  • 52k
14 votes

If the Roman Empire in the Year 90 AD Found a Living Tyrannosaurus Rex, What Creature in Their Mythology Would They Most Likely Mistake It For?

Some manner of bird: Hippalectryon? It is a contentious topic, but nowadays museums portray Tyrannosaurus with feathers. The Romans, being the sort of literal-minded people who declared that all ...
user avatar
  • 19.1k
13 votes

What Australian Megafauna Would be Suitable for Domestication, if Any?

At a guess: Diprotodon, Palorchestes, and Thylacine. There was a Russian study which tried to domesticate foxes, attempting to mirror the dog-from-wolves domestication. It started in 1959, and is ...
user avatar
  • 37.9k
12 votes

Do hunter-gatherers move or stay put in the winter?

Hunter gatherers are tied to food sources, so it would depend largely on what is available in the locale. If you live next to the sea you would develop the skills to exploit the sea in winter and ...
user avatar
  • 17.5k
12 votes

Our missing sense. What is it and how does it work?

Tetrachromacy The original humans had a fourth cone cell, one sensitive to ultraviolet light. This let them see the hidden ultraviolet markers on plants and birds. This let the tribes of humans with ...
user avatar
  • 23.5k
12 votes

Our missing sense. What is it and how does it work?

Magnetoception Magnetoception is a general description for the ability to detect the Earth's magnetic field and use it for navigation. To quote the 2010 review from which the image above is taken: ....
user avatar
  • 19.1k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible