24 votes

When many animal and plant materials are comparable to modern materials, why would any civilization develop metal working?

Tools and parts won't grow on trees When people were primitive, they used stones as tools. There are plenty of stones for use, but they almost never have a shape that a tool needs. What was a major ...
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13 votes

When many animal and plant materials are comparable to modern materials, why would any civilization develop metal working?

Art. Metal has a look and feel unlike other substances. Jewelry was historically a major domain of metal. Electricity. All those lovely wires need metal. As soon as someone figures out that lightning ...
5 votes

When many animal and plant materials are comparable to modern materials, why would any civilization develop metal working?

How exactly similar are those equivalent? Because even if a lizard skin is as hard as steel, if you can't melt and shape it, it is clearly not as useful as steel. Your society will start with ...
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3 votes

When many animal and plant materials are comparable to modern materials, why would any civilization develop metal working?

We have real-world examples of this. Up through the 19th century, we hunted whales in order to harvest various oils that their body produces. These oils were highly desirable as lamp fuel, and were ...
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3 votes

When many animal and plant materials are comparable to modern materials, why would any civilization develop metal working?

Unworkability Scales and shells are too hard and/or brittle to work and thus can't be shaped as desired. They Don't Scale Up Spider silk is stronger than steel in some very useful ways but is far ...
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3 votes

When many animal and plant materials are comparable to modern materials, why would any civilization develop metal working?

I mean, the easy answer is they wouldn't. They might discover that the ground has metals but not care because there's plenty of lizard scales laying around. But if the point of the exercise is to ...
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1 vote

What does a post-industrial world look like if there was no oil or gas, only coal?

The phrase the "steam age" is a euphemism for an era (specifically, a period of industrialization in parts of Europe between roughly 1770 and 1914) in which the primary fuel was coal, which ...
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