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Your_Majesty's avatar

Can we(human) still survive without domestication?

Asked by Your_Majesty (8212 points ) February 2nd, 2010

What would happen if our ancestors haven’t(or never) domesticated animals?,do you think we(human) can still survive without that?. In fact we can get everything(food,nutrition,medicine,etc) we needs from plant itself. How long our development would be delayed without that domestication? (I guess it could be 50 years). Any benefits if domestication never happened to human life?.

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49 Answers

CMaz's avatar

The caveman did it.

Don’t think we could support a large population without domestication.

Domestication is the nature of the beast.

Qingu's avatar

Just domesticated animals? I’m sure humanity would still be around—we were around a long time before domesticating food and pack animals—but our cultures would probably look very different.

FYI, humans also domesticated plants. Wild plants eaten by hunter-gatherers looked nothing like plants used in agriculture. We had to select and breed those wild plants until they evolved into a form that we could control through farming. Without farming, there would be no human civilization.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would resort to running hamburgers down like a hyena.

The_Idler's avatar

I am of the opinion that we should never have come down out of the trees.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Qingu I agree with you. But domestication in plants isn’t really necessary. We can already gets its benefit without have to domesticate it. Domestication in plants is meant for greater variety and bigger production. There’s some ancient tribe that can survive without farming lifestyle,they only hunt for animals/some even only depends on fishery lifestyle.

marinelife's avatar

I think domesticating animals put us in one place, which has had environmental impacts on the planet.

Qingu's avatar

@Doctor_D, we could not farm plants without first domesticating them. I think you’re underestimating the benefit (and it’s not really to do with variety, more to do with the amount of food they provide).

For example, our corn was domesticated from a wild plant called teosinte. You can compare the difference.

SophiscatedLady's avatar

We becomes Vegetarians. Isn’t that a good lifestyle?.

Trillian's avatar

@The_Idler So, what did you think about digital watches?

La_Perm's avatar

No one will die because of rabies,bird flu,ebola,ring worm,etc,etc… from domesticated animals.

Sarcasm's avatar

1) As someone else mentioned, plants are domesticated. Do me a favor and look up what a wild banana looks like, and tell me if that’s something you’d want to eat.—Bananas are not the only things we’ve transformed for ourselves, but a good example)
2) While there are some herbal remedies, there are much scientific discovery which would not have happened without the unfortunate abuse of domesticated animals.
3) Humans can survive without domestication. But this Earth cannot support 6+ billion humans without domesticated food.

The_Idler's avatar

@Trillian
Digital watches are pointless. I need to tell time, accurate to within a couple of minutes.

Why replace two lines, moving in two dimensions, with 42 lines, moving in one dimension!?

Val123's avatar

@Doctor_D Did you know that corn doesn’t grow wild? It has to be cultivated.

the100thmonkey's avatar

We can survive, but not in any way that one would recognise as signifying a ‘modern’ human society.

I like corn. And steak. And potatoes. And carrots.

AND I like them cooked. Preferably with some gravy too.

@The_Idler – I think it was a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference…

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Val123 I don’t know. But I believe as @Qingu explained to me. Anyway,corn isn’t the only staple food/food source we could get from plants. There’s still other that don’t really needs domestication (e.g. we can already eat coconut without have to domesticate it,wild banana plants still could be consumed without have to domesticate it first,and many more. Although not all plants needs domestication).

Trillian's avatar

@the100thmonkey, it certainly was, and I thought that was what he was referencing when talking about the trees. Now what is the improbability factor that he used the number 42 in his answer? Do you have a nice hot cup of tea?

life_after_2012's avatar

We wouldnt be worried about a recession.

Val123's avatar

@life_after_2012 But we could be worried about starvation.

The_Idler's avatar

Nah I was assuming hh:mm:ss display with the classic 7 on/off LCD bars for each digit.

funny though. 42

been a while since i read that classic.

oh and I don’t have a nice hot cup of tea, but that is a damn fine idea
{puts kettle on}

snowberry's avatar

@La_Perm Dying because of ringworm??? Really? He he!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Even if we had never herded animals to eat them, our agriculture would not have progresses far enough without keeping oxen, horses, camels, mules, donkeys etc. as beasts of burden. Our ability to plough and seed enough land to produce crops in excess of our immediate needs depended on strong animals to supplement human labour. We needed them to deliver our excess crops to market and transport our purchases back to our homes. Dogs helped to protect our livestock and families from predators. Cats helped control rodents that destroyed our stored produce (hay, grain etc.).

Domestication enhanced not only our survival, but the ability to engage in commerce. This allowed us for form alliances with people of other settlements. It also enabled us to defend ourselves from hostile groups of humans and to pillage settlements weaken than us.

Commerce allowed both the spread of knowledge and the spread of diseases.

So the issue is far more complex than meat or no meat.

The_Idler's avatar

Ja, it was the first step towards civilization and complex society.

La_Perm's avatar

@snowberry Only if you left it untreated. (we don’t even have to discover medicine for animal based diseases if we don’t domesticate animals).

wilma's avatar

The world population would not be nearly as high as it is now. Starvation would be widespread.
Rice, corn, wheat, meat, fish, and most of the other food that we eat, relies on domestication.
I’m with @the100thmonkey , I want dinner, and I don’t want to have to forage for it.
Not everyday at least!

The_Idler's avatar

Starvation, I contend, would not be widespread, for the absence of farming would not allow societies to live, grow and exist beyond their immediate means, humans would only live in areas of natural abundance, meaning a far less dramatic effect would be observed, in the event of less-than-ideal growing weather.

aprilsimnel's avatar

No. Primitive societies spent most of their time looking for food. Maybe there was some cave painting and storytelling around a campfire, but that life only sustains a small tribe. Modern civilization is what it is only because of agriculture and animal husbandry.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Can’t they do that by themselves?. Disease came mainly from animals human lived/brought with them. I don’t think as the spread of new disease gets higher and epidemic our knowledge would be always advance enough to handle it. I agree with @La_Perm ,have you noticed how many people died from disease caused by animals(domesticated animals) before we can cure it?.

@wilma Starvation wouldn’t be widespread if we(human) can maintain our reproduction. In fact the more people on this earth the more they needs to be fed. You can still eat your rice,corn,fish(we don’t domesticate fish) without meat. Seafood is another alternative nutritious meat source.

wilma's avatar

@Doctor_D we do farm fish where I live. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_farming
They are delicious dipped in batter and fried! :)

josie's avatar

Human beings could survive without it, they already have. But then we would be locked in to hunting and gathering to get food, which would necessarily occupy much of our time and energy, which means fewer other opportunities to create wealth which would limit the possibilities for human progress. It was not until man cultivated the soil, and raised animals that human beings began to realize their potential.

Hobbes's avatar

Well, according to the well-regarded book “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, the main reason for much of Eurasia’s speedy technological and social development was that they had access to easily domesticated animals (horses, cattle, chickens, etc).

So it seems reasonable to assume that without domestication of animals, human development would have happened at a much slower rate.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@wilma Glad to know. But we can still survive without that.

DrMC's avatar

There would be no cow in the temple of Bahl!?

Your_Majesty's avatar

@DrMC Does it really matter?. At least we’re still survive,right?.

Trillian's avatar

@DrMC, I got it.

The_Idler's avatar

Well it is really the whole agricultural movement in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, which is demonised in the Abrahamic religions, rather than animal husbandry.

Probably because God’s people were nomads and they were consistently being marginalised by the agricultural societies?

That is why Babylon is a rasta by-word for exploitative society, right?

DrMC's avatar

Life without a temple cow? NOoooooOOooo!

Qingu's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence, the native American civilizations of the Maya and Aztec did not really use domesticated animals for their agriculture. They were pretty advanced (in some ways more advanced than the Europeans of the time).

So I don’t think domesticated animals are necessary for agriculture. Though they certainly make certain forms of farming easier.

mattbrowne's avatar

We could downsize significantly which would contribute to solving the energy and freshwater crisis. Eating meat every day is like driving a large SUV. We should shift our focus to protein-rich plants.

Val123's avatar

@The_Idler You said, Starvation, I contend, would not be widespread, for the absence of farming would not allow societies to live, grow and exist beyond their immediate means, humans would only live in areas of natural abundance, meaning a far less dramatic effect would be observed, in the event of less-than-ideal growing weather. Well, if we started from where we are now, with the pops we have, starvation would be rampant, until the population declined to the point where it could be sustained. Also, any culture that survives solely by forging risks starvation at different times, due to different reasons….drought, etc.

The_Idler's avatar

@Val123
You said, “Well, if we started from where we are now, with the pops we have, starvation would be rampant, until the population declined to the point where it could be sustained.
Well, the question was ‘what if our ancestors had never domesticated animals?’
so, in your first sentence, the qualification, if we started from where we are now, with the pops we have,” is entirely irrelevant to this discussion, and my point remains.

You then said, “Also, any culture that survives solely by forging risks starvation at different times, due to different reasons….drought, etc.”
Well, that implies that I suggested that there would be no starvation, when in fact I explained that, it would not be widespread, and, in the event of [drought], a far less dramatic effect would be observed, due to the fact humans would only be living in areas of great natural abundance, and would not be pushing beyond the natural carrying capacity of their immediate environment.

Val123's avatar

@The_Idler You are absolutely right! My bad. (Here I go posting questions asking if people pay attention to small details, claiming that I do, but I hardly EVER carefully read the details!)

However, all people would faced with food shortages at some point, just not all at the same time.
Also, if humans lived only where there was “great abundance,” Alaska and the deserts would never have become populated. But they did.

The_Idler's avatar

I doubt that could’ve occurred without domesticated animals.
It’d be tough living in Spain or Scotland without domestication, but totally impossible in Sahara or Siberia.

Val123's avatar

@The_Idler They don’t have any domesticated animals in along the Bearing sea! Well…perhaps dogs. It’s not like the Eskimo’s raised cattle, chickens and crops and stuff. And they CAME from Siberia, 20,000 years ago, and had been in Siberia how many thousands of years before they crossed over…

You know what…I need to do some more checking, but I’m pretty sure the Eskimos didn’t have domesticated animals or plants.

Hobbes's avatar

Well, people (like the Inuit/Eskimos) can survive without domestication, it just gives a lot of advantages. Animals can provide humans with a renewable source of food and resources like wool and milk, can do things humans can’t (track by smell, for example), can do work so humans don’t have to, and their presence immunizes the human population against their diseases. So, humans probably would have survived without the help of animals, but our development almost certainly would have been slowed down immensely.

Val123's avatar

@Hobbes Exactly. Well put. Yes, we could survive but not nearly as well as we do now.

DrMC's avatar

@Val123 come to think of it, I think native American use of horses was introduced by Europeans. Domestication is contrary to northern Native American practices (based on my crude understanding)

How early in evolution did humans begin cooperating with animals? You can produce a dog from a wolf in 100 generations (its been done).

The progenitor of humans at one point was not symbiotic with animals most likely.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Hobbes – How well does global agriculture work during ice ages? The problem is that humans can’t digest cellulose. But the Inuit model seems to work for small populations only.

Val123's avatar

@DrMC That’s right. Horse/Indians are such a natural combination that it’s surprising to realize that they didn’t even have them prior to (just guess here) 1500.

DrMC's avatar

I like the native american ideology – except where it comes to warm houses and all.

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