evolutionary TL: for the birds

Birds, especially parrots have been known to be very intelligent, even capable of understanding symbolic speech as in the African grey parrot.(http://www.impactlab.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=8106&mode=&order=0&thold=0)

So, what about a TL where a sentient parrot evolves? I've had bird pets before so I'm quite fond of them :D . I don't know that much about zoology but I'll just be wingin' it... (OK... bad pun)

10 million years ago- In the jungles of the indonesian archipelago, a new species of cockatoo makes a remarkable leap - it begins to use language.
It starts off simple enough, as many birds do today, with certain vocal calls that represent concepts such as "Look out, a leopard" or "Hey, there's a mango tree ahead". But this species kicks it up a notch and starts to refine its use of sound to make it more symbolic. This is important since using language begins to let the birds be able to communicate concepts better, forming more complex social structures where individuals become collectivistic and help each other find food and avoid predators. Their brain develops consequently, as evolution favours the better communicators

Eventually, they develop a rich, vibrant language with complex trills, squawks, whistles and chirps. This language becomes incredibly rich in vocabulary, since birds are very visual and also auditory learners. With this, they can now "tell" each other stories and accounts to pass down their experience and wisdom to other generations. They have mastered the first step: culture and language.

The birds are highly detail-oriented beings which would have "words" for things like hundreds of different types of fruits, trees, colours, weather patterns and predators. Also, compared to the numerous sounds made by a bird, our human languages, limited by our voice boxes, seem comparitively small in number of phonemes/sounds/syllables. A new mating ritual develops in the parrots involving females selecting males on how "poetic" they are, with males competing for mates by making innovative songs and dances. This sexual selection contributes as well to greater intelligence and creativity.

Pretty soon, with the use of language, the cockatoos develop a "society" of sorts, albeit a simple one about as advanced as "hunter-gatherer" humans. They are mostly vegetarian, but lean towards omnivory gradually as the parrots use tools such as sticks and stones to help them crack nuts and bird's eggs for protein. They also eat small animals like rodents and snakes.

Now the problem with the parrots is that being as small as 2 pounds or so in weight, they have to deal with many large predators. Predators provide a selection pressure for them to evolve even further. The parrots' main enemies are mammalian carnivores (as leopards, cats, weasels), snakes, and birds of prey. The parrots eventually evolve in social groups of 100-200 and travel together as a band in search of food, with no individual left behind. Once in a while though, if a predator is spotted, the parrots all yell and cry in fear and warn all flock members to band together. But they are not helpless. Cockatoos learned to carry weapons, small lightweight spears tipped with poison. At the sight of a leopard or hawk, these excellent visually gifted parrots aim for the neck and swiftly dispatch their enemy. Another method is a whole "tribe" of parrots will stone a predator like a big cat to death, aiming to bash skulls with rocks dropped from above. Sometimes a captured hawk or leopard will be hacked to death or dismembered for meat (although not that often). The prey turns predator, just like humans in OTL. Also, leopard teeth and claws are used as good luck charms by the birds. The cockatoos eventually develop an animistic/polytheistic religion, praying to their own deities for good luck foraging and defense against predators.

But at night, perched asleep birds are vulnerable. So the sentient parrots start to built large village-like complexes of nests in the trees. About 10-15 nests on a tree. Each one being about 5-6 feet in diameter. Large complex woven nests that serve as "shelters" to sleep in, and as a guard against predators, thorns, spikes and sharpened sticks defend the complex. But eventually a sneaky snake or weasel will slip in to dine on fresh cockatoo meat while the flock is sleeping. The solution? There are birds in the flock that act as "watchmen" or "guards", staying awake beside the nest and guarding their comrades with the poison tipped spear and a pile of sharpened rocks. They take night shifts and with so many birds to take turns, everyone gets enough rest.

1.8- 1.0 Homo erectus arrives in Indonesia as Java man. Java man eventually is found facing conflict with the cockatoos. Man likes to hunt and eat birds. Man starts off the first contact ruthlessly by hunting them in large numbers. But the cockatoos stand their ground. At this point, they are more advanced in terms of language and visual skills and also better coordinated, so they make a comeback. A little arms race develops. Cockatoo spears face off against Java man's but the bird's got better aim. Java man has a hard time hunting them or raiding their well-defended nests, so they give up on hunting birds and move on to other prey. Plus, birds are small and it isn't worth the effort to hunt. However, the birds now see Java man as a threat. The birds treat him as a competitor as well as a possible danger. My experiences with pet bird show that if birds like parrots have a bad experience, they can learn to "hate" certain people such as abusive handlers and never forget the experience, holding a sort of "grudge". So as the first contact between Java man and cockatoo gave bird a bad impression of man, man is villainized in their society as is seen as a sort of "demon" or "monster" to be gotten rid of. Java man is targeted and openly attacked whenever seen. The birds pelt man with stones, toss sharpened spears. Eventually, Java man goes extinct in competition with the birds. However, the birds have obtained something useful from man; they learned his use of fire. The birds cook, but now have to be extra cautious, lest they burn their own nests and trees, accidentally. Later on, homo sapiens anthropologists will wonder why Java man died out.
 
Around 80 000-70 000 years ago: The first "real" humans arrive from Africa to Indonesia - homo sapiens sapiens faces off with the cockatoo civilization. By now, several species of big cat have gone extinct, hunted to death by them. "Tree villages" can be seen thoroughout the Indonesian islands, decorated with natural dyes, and painted with good-luck omens. However, the birds still remain hunter gatherers, since in a jungle there is plenty of fruits with no selection for agriculture. Also, at some time before this, the cockatoo civilization has expanded to Australia (where the drier climate will provide opportunity to develop agriculture of some sort (native grains), and parts of mainland South-East Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam).

So, when the first "Australoid" humans encounter the cockatoos, the birds themselves have already had retained tribal tales of "monstrous, villainous, upright beasts". Luckily, this contact turns out more peaceful than the previous with Java man. At first there is fighting, but the intelligent birds have wised up enough to figure out that man has a potential to become an ally of them. For one, they could help each other hunt and forage (after all ,both species are omnivores) and fight off predators together in the same way wolves/wild dogs were domesticated in OTL (except these birds are smarter). The humans also find that both they and the birds are capable of speech, though the bird language is impossible for humans to learn (we can't make all those squawks and trills). But it isn't true vice-versa. The gifted speakers the parrots can pick up human tongues, albeit slowly, but eventually as they live together, they learn to share a human language. Different tribes of human will have different tribes of bird "companions". It is a mutual relationship where it is a win-win situation for both.
 
Should later on, other civilizations such as Thai, Chinese and Indian civilizations meet these birds developping alongside man in Indonesia? How advanced should the birds develop?

How about when European colonization comes through? How will they come to grips with their Christian concepts of "humans should subdue the animals of the earth"?
 

Straha

Banned
The center of the world will be china/japan/australia with them owning 90% of the resources. The west will be a backwater.
 
Very good and unique idea. Are these cockatoos the same size as normal birds? Or have they evolved to be the size of eagles and have bigger brains, or even bigger?
Do they have a hivemind, or do they place the same emphasis on the individual that humans do?
I wonder if humans and birds would work together for all of history, or if somewhere along the line, one of them would try to wipe the other out? Would the birds use guns? Or would they invent some wierd weapin, Razor-Wings, or something, that humans can't even comprehend?
 

NapoleonXIV

Banned
This is really good but I have one question. How do they carry spears and other things? Is it sort of a claw/beak thing? I can't quite see how they'd be good with a shaft.

Also, can they use a bow? This might be a disadvantage in their dealings with man.

Robert A Heinlein, in the Star Beast has an animal that is conversationally fluent in language, but is still not considered a sapient being until it develops hands
 
This is a very cool and original idea.

Though I wonder why you mention parrots and cockatoos as though they are interchangeable. Perhaps Aves Sapiens would be a good name? And I wonder about the spears too.
 
Why couldn't they just eat a particular food, and poop and thereby poison thier enemies. I know it sound dumb, but why couldn't they have figured out a way to introduce some kind of poison to their enemies, even if they had something on thier beaks and they pecked them?
 
Freakin' awesome. Birds hunting Java Man to extinction. Now, that's just inventive.
Will the birds, like humans, evolve to walk on land at some point? Will their wings evolve back into arm-like limbs?
I have a concept of what your birds might look like, just a thought:
avessapiens.png

(added claws on the wing-ends, like the Hoatzin. Would make sense for a tree-dwelling sentient bird, you know, for grasping branches)
In any case, cool ATL, AoE. :cool:
Hope I'm not hijacking the thread.
 
Hapsburg said:
Freakin' awesome. Birds hunting Java Man to extinction. Now, that's just inventive.
Will the birds, like humans, evolve to walk on land at some point? Will their wings evolve back into arm-like limbs?
I have a concept of what your birds might look like, just a thought:
avessapiens.png

(added claws on the wing-ends, like the Hoatzin. Would make sense for a tree-dwelling sentient bird, you know, for grasping branches)
In any case, cool ATL, AoE. :cool:
Hope I'm not hijacking the thread.

Nice pic :D. I guess it would be logical to have some sort of clawed grasping wing.
 
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Dynamitard said:
Very good and unique idea. Are these cockatoos the same size as normal birds? Or have they evolved to be the size of eagles and have bigger brains, or even bigger?
Do they have a hivemind, or do they place the same emphasis on the individual that humans do?
I wonder if humans and birds would work together for all of history, or if somewhere along the line, one of them would try to wipe the other out? Would the birds use guns? Or would they invent some wierd weapin, Razor-Wings, or something, that humans can't even comprehend?

I'd say these birds would be evolved to around the size of a large eagle or so. Maybe 10-15 pounds. As for the culture, I was thinking that they would be not so hive-minded (since that limits intelligence to a certain extent) but be more like the more collectivistic human cultures such as the Chinese or Japanese, placing value on social harmony and unity.
 
60 000-50 000 years ago - The sapient birds, along with the human race, have expanded from maritime south-east asia and indo-china, up into the tropical areas of southern India and southern China, as well as Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Their range now corresponds roughly to the extent of the Oriental and Australian biogeographic regions.(http://www.backyardnature.net/zoog_reg.gif)
 
40 000- 30 000 years ago - The sentient birds, along with man, reach the further north temperate areas of China, Korean peninsula and Japan where they start to have to deal with colder weather. Parrots rather dislike places where the temperature dips below freezing. The ones that expand north will evolve into a new subspecies or "race", the Tengu. the ancestral ones that remain in the south india and south-east asia will be called the Garudas. A third subspecies will develop in Australia. As the Tengus left the jungle areas where their favourite fruits were plentiful, their food sources are limited. But that's where their adaptability comes in. They begin to eat more meat and wild seed than fruit.

25 000 - 20 000 The Garuda discover, with man the domestication of the grain we call rice. One thing to note though, the birds can eat rice uncooked, but humans can't. The discovery of rice is passed northward to the Tengu, where it becomes a vital crop for their survival. It allows the population to expand to millions.
 
For some reason, I just can't picture birds being able to use spears. Dive-bombing with sharpened rocks, yes, spears, no.

Or toxic feces.

Could this lead early humans to reach for the sky a bit early?

Could this lead to less prejudice between humans if they have a more "other" other?

How well would they take to a Mediterranean climate?

Would their migrations(if they still have them) lead to earlier contact with the New World?

Eventually, I could see this species as being a bunch of mail-carriers and fruit-farmers.

What about the current debate of chimp "humanness"? Could this apply to bird species related to Aves Sapiens?

And the inevitable military role: messengers and air-cav centuries before OTL.
 
aware of emptiness said:
By the way, is there any grains/wild grasses suitable for agriculture in Australia?

A quick wiki reveals nothing.(< that would be great for a fortune cookie)

I await Aussie wisdom.
 
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EvolvedSaurian said:
For some reason, I just can't picture birds being able to use spears.
Not necessarilly. They could grasp a stick in thier foot claws, and sharpen one end against a rock. A flint-head spear would be next to impossible, though. But a simple sharpened-wood spear? It's possible.
 
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