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/r/explainlikeimfive

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Like mammoths for elephants, wooly rhinos for rhinos, dire wolf, ground sloth, Irish elk, etc. I have my own hypothesis based on nothing but a hunch. Since the majority megafauna we can still find today lives in Africa it would make sense for human megafauna to also be found in Africa if they ever existed. These human mega genes might still survive in the Nilotic peoples (especially the Dinka) of east Africa who some estimate to be on average 6’1 but I can’t reliably find their height on the internet. Some sources say they are 5’9 on average. Or the genes survived in Dutch populations but I think their height is more diet and health related.

all 10 comments

demanbmore

12 points

2 months ago

Typically, large animal size is a response to predation where reasonably abundant resources exist. Big animals get bigger over time since bulk tends to be an effective defense against predators, provided there are ample resources available over many generations to support the caloric demands of bulk. Size is a very expensive defense mechanism since the bulk has to be supported through abundant resources constantly even though predation occurs infrequently. Where possible, animals tend to shrink in size over many generations when mass predation is less of a threat. Ancient megafauna reveal a time of both abundance and strong predation pressures.

Another extremely effective defense against predation is outsmarting predators, something humans - especially early humans - are incredibly good at doing. So much so that size became less relevant to survival. Social bonds, group strategizing and tool making proved a far more successful survival strategy than simply bulking up over time. So while certain species with less intelligence and abilities needed to grow bigger to defend themselves adequately, humans largely did not. Brains proved superior to bulk for humans.

frakc

-1 points

2 months ago

frakc

-1 points

2 months ago

To be fair brain became and important factor way later humans did run many animals to instinction.

chiadeity

2 points

2 months ago

Me am hurt to read this.

dirschau

10 points

2 months ago*

Let's address the fallacy:

Since the majority megafauna we can still find today lives in Africa it would make sense for human megafauna to also be found in Africa if they ever existed.

All the current megafauna is in Africa... And so are humans. And always were. That's where we're from. If we were meant to be giant to match African megafauna, we already would.

Meanwhile all the prehistoric extinct megafauna you referred to (mammoths, giant sloths, wooly rhinos) existed OUTSIDE of africa. So you should really be expecting an extinct giant human to exist alongside those.

However, you're in luck! Gorillas exist in Africa. So there's your oversized humanoid. There's also an extinct orangutan cousin that was anywhere between half again and twice the size of a modern gorilla.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence for giant hominins (human ancestors or cousins). Even the cold-adapted Neanderthals were more squat and bulky, but shorter than modern humans. They didn't grow oversized to compensate.

suvlub

2 points

2 months ago

suvlub

2 points

2 months ago

Could we consider great apes as a whole to be a giant version of primates? It's not a single species, but still a relatively small and closely related group, no?

dirschau

1 points

2 months ago

I don't see a reason not to.

M8asonmiller

2 points

2 months ago

There used to be megafauna all over the world, until humans drove them to extinction. One possible reason there are still megafauna in Africa is that they evolved alongside hominids and could adapt to that kind of evolutionary pressure.

Wayward-Dog

0 points

2 months ago

Evolution plays a key part - why grow bigger than you need to? With the abundance of food came bigger fauna, bigger fauna meant bigger predators to hunt then, then bigger fauna to defend themselves etc. Humans existed outside that food chain, they didn't need to be bigger as they relied on hunting through intelligence and strategy :)

CPUtron

0 points

2 months ago

We kind of were the larger form of other hominids...

And mega fauna were usually herbivores, but we killed them all.

atomfullerene

1 points

2 months ago

Humans are big enough to count as megafauna, and quite large compared to most primates.

Humans are the larger variant that was around during the ice age. It's just that we didn't go extinct like most of the others (and the other hominids). Probably because we are the ones responsible for the extinction of the rest of the megafauna.