Why don't lions eat children?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by alexb123, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. alexb123 The Amish web page is fast! Valued Senior Member

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    In terms of evolution children in Theory should be very quite, after all the noisy ones in the past would have been eaten by roaming beasts.

    So it would make sense that quite kids are selected for. However, have you ever meet a quiet child?
     
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  3. Okeydoke Registered Senior Member

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    Tell that to Grissley Bears. They eat anything that looks tasty, including quiet little fat boys.

    Okeydoke
     
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  5. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

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    Children cry out because they have no other way to attract the attention of a parent. It is their way of telling that something is wrong or that they are in need of something. As a parent, you just can not ignore the cry of your baby, you _have_ to check it out. Since babies are pretty much useless in taking care of themselves, having the parents focusing on them when they are in trouble is a strong advantage.

    Moreover, humans moved in sizeable groups and groups always make noise, regardless of the presence of a baby. Wild animals would hear (or smell, or see) a bunch of humans in any case. Given that, i'd rather have a baby shouting it out when it, e.g., sees a lion rather than to stay quiet in the hope the animal will move on. The baby itself can put up no effective defence. A group of alerted adults ready to protect offspring is, however, more than a match for the lion.
     
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  7. alexb123 The Amish web page is fast! Valued Senior Member

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    Mouse I take your point for a very young child. However I am talking about children from walking age up until around 15. If you listen to any of these age groups they have some innate need to shout and be noisy.

    Children of these ages are also very prone to wonder off to be independant of groups of adults esp teenagers. Surely that's prime lion snack behaviour?

    Also to add to your point about babys cry I also believe that the more noise the baby makes the more tired and less likely the mother is to have other children. This is selected for as breast feeding can go on for many years if there are no new births to pushin on their milk.

    I know someone who was breast feed by his grandmother until a teenager. He is the butt of many jokes about it

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  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    When I was growing up the kids in my hood weren't noisy at all. There were about 20 of us in total that hung around with each other and played together. We had a great time with everything we did but never made a racket at all.
     
  9. alexb123 The Amish web page is fast! Valued Senior Member

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    I would also say I was quiet as well. However, I would bet a lot of money that other people didn't think so. I think when noise levels are high among you and your peers you take it as a normal level. I would say thats why we don't have recollection of the noise. After all any group of 20 would make a lot of noise even if each individual was quiet.
     
  10. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    My guess is that kids that are in situations where they're subject to attacks by lions, tigers or any other wild animals, they are NOT likely to be noisy like the kids in a suburban neighborhood! If you think so, where do you get your information?

    Baron Max
     
  11. mouse can't sing, can't dance Registered Senior Member

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    You are getting into an age range where upbringing is making its influence count. When you were seven, did you not shut up when a parent or teacher told you to keep quiet? Granted though, children play and make noise. However, as long as humans live in groups and adults look after youngsters, children are generally safe.

    Personally, I haven't seen many occasions where children were allowed to move around in a dangerous environment without being accompanied by an adult. In a modern setting, you'd see that if a child takes a little expedition and crosses the street without looking, parents are quick to catch up on the youngster and to firmly correct his or her behaviour.

    Teenagers, well, sure they move about, but they too usually hang around in groups and, moreover, are quite capable to defend themselves.
     
  12. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

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    Alex,

    There is a split between the need to keep quiet and the need to maintain a cohesive social unit (which is done primarily with vocalization in our species.)

    At face value, a child who is lost and alone in a dangerous environment must choose which behavior to perform. To cry for help from its group. Or to maintain silence so as not to attract predators.

    This very case was played out recently in the case of the missing cub scout from Utah.
    Here is a boy who would live up to your expectations of being quiet. He obeyed his parents commands. Both to stay on the trail. And to not talk to strangers. Every time that a search party would pass by, the boy would hide!

    But, no matter how quiet he was, I bet he wasn't anywhere near quiet enough to prevent notice from any hungry predator that might have been passing by.

    The human animal is different than all other animals. We do not rely on the same survival mechanisms. We are no longer capable of the same stealth which is second nature to most animals. Not only this, but sound is only one avenue of discovery and quite possibly not the primary one.

    Try covering up the scent of fear.

    If that boy had not been found, then he would have died. Pure and simple.
    His survival depended upon being found by his group. By humans. To be brought back into his social support group. If he hadn't been found, he would have been dead. Predated or not.

    It is this that is at the heart of man's noisy nature. With our noise we proclaim territory. We let the animals know that MAN is here. That this is our woods. Our savannah. Our world. Step aside, Lion, or face the wrath of man.

    Our noise is our territorial pissings.

    I've observed this directly in certain types of people who are very territorial. They always say everything as loudly as they can so that as many people as possible can hear every word they say. And they don't just walk. They STOMP. These people unconsciously put emphasis on every word, action, and deed to make themselves known. Their steps shake the ground. Their words shake the air. (Their minds are usually small...)

    This is what it means to live among a species whose chief means of communication lies in vocalizations.

    Every heard a quiet monkey troop?
    What do they do when they see a snake? Hush up? No. They go ape-shit.
    What do they do each time any scuffle takes place?

    Vocalization is obviously not a detriment to survival. Else, as you have said, we wouldn't be here.

    So. When there appears to be a contradiction. Check your premises.
    Your premise is that silence is more beneficial than noise.
    Your premise is wrong.


    Edit:
    This is of course a tricky situation. As man is a social animal, his default behaviors have a tendency towards this. Hence we're noisy as this is the way for a troop to act. Also, when separated involuntarily from our group, we make noise to be reunited. But, when alone and there is no choice of being reunited with the group, then we must alter our ways. But, we must do so consciously as our subconscious instincts are largely social. We must concentrate upon remaining silent. We must concentrate on staying small.

    Keep in mind that different animals have different criteria for judgement of prey. Some animals you are encouraged to puff yourself up. Make yourself big. Make lots of noise. Look them directly in the eyes.

    Other animals you want to do just the opposite as the above behavior will drive them nuts and prompt them to kill you.

    These are things that can only be learned through observation and are therefore in the conscious as opposed to the subconscious realm of action and behavior. They must be taught. Man has spread out across an entire planet and if we were hardwired to act in any specific way as if we were only to face specific predators, then we would never have spread the way we have.
     
  13. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    That's how many kids were in the hood but we all didn't get together at the same time. Sometimes we would go down the street to the open field and have either a touch football game or softball game but even then only about 10 kids would show up and we weren't noisey, at least to me. Of course there was some shouting when the football was thrown but that was about it.
     
  14. Yorda_7 Guest

    Lions are true, so they only respect the truth...
    they don't like people who wear masks...
    that's why they eat them...

    but they don't eat small children,
    because small children are what they are...
    they are not lying to themselves... or trying to be something they're not...
     
  15. Pete It's not rocket surgery Moderator

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    I have a fuzzy recollection of an anecdote from either Steven J. Gould or Richard Dawkins (I think it was Dawkins), discussing gene selection and the behaviour of young birds.

    The suggestion went something like this:

    Assume that in some species of bird, there is some random distribution of noisy babies and quiet babies. It may be the case that noisy babies are relatively rare, since "noisy baby" genes are selected against by predator action.

    Now, imagine two young birds in a nest. Their mother approaches with food.
    One young bird squawks, the other doesn't.

    Now, consider these two possible actions by the mother, and the consequences:
    1 - the mother feeds the squawking baby, and goes to find more food. The squawker shuts up.
    2 - the mother feeds the quiet baby, and goes to find more food. The squawker keeps squawking.

    In the first case, the nest is more likely to be found by a predator, the babies destroyed, and possibly the mother as well. Therefore, genes that encode behaviour in the mother to feed the squawking baby are selected for - ie mothers who feed noisy babies are more likely to pass on their genes.

    But now consider the effect of this phenotype in the mothers on the children of future generations: noisy babies are more likely to be fed, and will have better health and chances of survival! Now, "noisy baby" genes are selected for.


    There's more to it than this simple story, of course. It's necessary to consider the relative pressure of different relvant phenotypes, and how they all add up.
    For example, mothers who feed their children equally will have more healthy children than mothers who let the quiet ones starve... but genes which code for behaviour that leads to one baby dying are more likely to be passed on than genes which code for behaviour that lead to all babies dying (depending on the particular probabilities).

    Food for thought.
     
  16. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    ??? Ever try telling that to the villagers in India and in Africa whose children have been attacked?

    Where did you get your idealism on the behavior of lions? Lions can see liars? Duh?

    Baron Max
     
  17. Yorda_7 Guest

    A long time ago in Egypt, they used lions instead of horses for traveling. Pictures tell. The lions never attacked because the people weren't liars or selfish. Then those people went away, the lions stop being domestic animals, and they became completely independent, far from the people, they go back to the Desert.

    Very few people today are so pure that a lion wouldn't recognize, and also smell their lies. Lions react to our smallest emotions. They know what we want.

    People can lie to other people and cheat them and say nice words without meaning it, but they can never lie to a lion like that! The animals don't pay attention to that kind of things, they only see the truth.

    People are not aware of that that the lie forms an isolation like a dark shade, like smoke, developed in the people's radiation. It looks really ugly. But I don't think lions would attack them just because they are liars, it's only when they sense their intentions, like if they want to kill them, the lions kill them instead....

    ~ Yorda_7
     
  18. DeeCee Valued Senior Member

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  19. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    Indian children tend to have a pantload of feces, it's a recent adaption in response to tiger predation. Tigers find human feces repugnant for some reason.

    I think the point of the thread is why didn't children evolve to be quiet and secretive, thus not drawing the attention of lions. But it's probably beneficial for them to be noisy because then their mothers can hear everything is ok while they go about pounding grain. Also, the loud noises of a human settlement might do more to drive animals away than encourage them. As a social unit we're more formidable than any lion pride.
    If children were quiet they might accidentally stumble onto lions or bears or whatever and surprise them, which would cause them to take defensive action resulting in dead kids.
     
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I'm pretty sure you're right. I remember reading a long time ago that in places where children need to be quiet for survival, they are quiet. Apparently this is one for nurture, not nature.
     
  21. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Lions have been known to eat children.
     
  22. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned

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    they do eat children

    same for me cosmic but we was noisy sometimes but for a good reason.
     

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