Human avoidant prey animals and their origins.
August 19, 2005 9:42 AM Subscribe
Evolutionary Biologists: A friend and I were walking through the woods, saw a deer and started pondering our ability to survive with primitive tools. We couldn't get within 40 meters of the deer before it took off. I couldn't see myself making a missile weapon to kill it at that range even with years of experience. My friend asserted that evolutionary pressures have produced deer that are quite a bit more skittish than the deer our distant ancestors had to hunt...
posted by cadastral to science & nature (20 answers total)
...my question is this: While interaction with humans has definately rewarded deer with a propensity towards human-avoidance, is it justified to assume that there was a time when deer (or similar animals) would be indifferent to the presence of humans?
Friend seems to advance a notion that, in the same way Aurochs were turned into docile, human-ignoring cows by selective breeding, deer were turned into human-avoiders through selective culling. The deer more likely to reproduce being the ones who showed more inclination to being wary of bipedal ape-men... decent with modification... and so on. Also, I'm assuming that he's advancing that this happened slowly, over the course of thousands of years (much like domestication) and that the deer we encounter now are the "most skittish" deer in history (trending skittishier as time advances)
I know about the dodo, seals, etc. and I truly don't understand it. I am comfortable with the idea that a rabbit would have no concern about close proximity of a deer, and vice versa... but there's just something dangerous looking about humans. Like if I saw something that looked like one of the aliens from "Alien" I'd know to get the fuck out of it's way despite the fact that i'd never seen one.
Does there exist an ecosystem on earth that humans have not interacted with, ever? If this ecosystem exists, are there breadbox- to washing machine sized prey animals who would be indifferent to my presence?
Thanks for any and all help. Also, please do me the favor of taking"skittishier" into consideration for introduction into your lexicons.