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Probably a rather odd series of questions, but they really got me curious, and sadly, I have only the barest frame of reference for any of the fields that would be needed to start answering them.

First off, would a camel- or mule-sized lizard potentially make for a better beast of burden in hot, dry climates? I really only have my intuition to go on, but it seems to me that reptiles are better suited to adapting to deserts and desert-like environments than other animals. They don't generate their own heat, so they seem less susceptible to overheating, and I imagine that cold-blooded animals need less food than, say, mammals of similar mass. I could be completely off on this, of course.

 

Second, is there anything (aside from how incredibly long it would take) that would prevent us from theoretically breeding equine-sized lizards into existence? Ankylosaurus and Triceratops sizes show that it's been done before, so physical constraints like the square-cube law can clearly be overcome, but perhaps there's something environmental that keeps lizards so incredibly small...

Edited by ladubois

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There are already komodo dragons large enough for your intentions. Cold blooded animals not only eat infrequently, they tend to be lethargic because they don't eat much. Moreover, I'm sure komodo dragons are wild and not likely to be tamed; their mouth contains lethal bacteria, and one bite or scratch could kill you.

 

Camels, on the other hand, make good pack and riding animals.

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Ankylosaurus and Triceratops

Those were dinosaurs, not reptiles.

 

There are reptiles capable of packing burdens, such as the large tortoises that children can ride at zoos, but not very fast. Most of the common human pack animals are chosen for speed as much as for load capacity - as far as I know every pack animal humans employ is also raced, as a matter of strong interest. Maybe not musk oxen.

Edited by overtone

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There are already komodo dragons large enough for your intentions. Cold blooded animals not only eat infrequently, they tend to be lethargic because they don't eat much. Moreover, I'm sure komodo dragons are wild and not likely to be tamed; their mouth contains lethal bacteria, and one bite or scratch could kill you.

 

Camels, on the other hand, make good pack and riding animals.

Komodo dragons seem to only be about the size of a mid- to large-sized dog. Dogs have been used as pack animals, true, but they're pretty limited in that capacity. Speaking of dogs, they are perhaps the best-known example of taming a wild animal. There's also what appears to be an increasingly well-known Russian study that has successfully bred domesticated foxes.

 

Iguanas are already domesticated and can get fairly large. Of course, it would probably be wiser to try using a lizard with a shorter and/or stockier tail, and without ridge spines.

 

Those were dinosaurs, not reptiles.

 

There are reptiles capable of packing burdens, such as the large tortoises that children can ride at zoos, but not very fast. Most of the common human pack animals are chosen for speed as much as for load capacity - as far as I know every pack animal humans employ is also raced, as a matter of strong interest. Maybe not musk oxen.

But they're related. Granted, so are birds, which are quite different from reptiles, but I'm willing to bet that ankylosaurus and triceratops are more closely related to modern lizards than modern birds. I will, however, admit my substantial ignorance even to what is known about the subject, so... Moving on.

 

Elephants are fairly slow-moving animals, particularly compared to other pack animals. They're capable of bursts of speed, but I rather doubt speed has anything to do with their daily use. And as you briefly mentioned with musk oxen, there are all sorts of cattle that are used as pack animals or for labour, at least historically. The vast majority of these have pretty much already been thoroughly replaced by machinery, but that's more of a practical reason for why we haven't tried doing this, not a theoretical one for why we couldn't.

Edited by ladubois

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The next step up would be a crocodile. They aren't for the desert, but they're similar to a large lizard. They can't walk far, because their legs aren't under them, like lizards, and they don't have the right disposition.

Edited by EdEarl

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Yeah, I was kind of discounting crocodilians, already, for all of those reasons. ...However, now that I think about it, most of the larger lizard species (at least that I know of) are carnivorous, which probably raises another practical concern about trying to domesticate an animal that could - and may very well want to - fit you in its mouth...

Edited by ladubois

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"Elephants are fairly slow-moving animals, particularly compared to other pack animals" True, but they aren't that slow overall - their walking speed when en route somewhere is 4-5 mph. An eight hour day is forty miles, at the high end of that.

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Komodo dragons seem to only be about the size of a mid- to large-sized dog. Dogs have been used as pack animals, true, but they're pretty limited in that capacity. Speaking of dogs, they are perhaps the best-known example of taming a wild animal. There's also what appears to be an increasingly well-known Russian study that has successfully bred domesticated foxes.

Komodo dragons get to be 10 feet long and weigh several hundred pounds, they are vicious killers, and probably most important, not social.

 

Iguanas are already domesticated and can get fairly large. Of course, it would probably be wiser to try using a lizard with a shorter and/or stockier tail, and without ridge spines.

I'm not sure we have the same meaning for the word domesticated, can you define your usage?

 

But they're related. Granted, so are birds, which are quite different from reptiles, but I'm willing to bet that ankylosaurus and triceratops are more closely related to modern lizards than modern birds. I will, however, admit my substantial ignorance even to what is known about the subject, so... Moving on.

How much do you want to bet?

 

Elephants are fairly slow-moving animals, particularly compared to other pack animals. They're capable of bursts of speed, but I rather doubt speed has anything to do with their daily use. And as you briefly mentioned with musk oxen, there are all sorts of cattle that are used as pack animals or for labour, at least historically. The vast majority of these have pretty much already been thoroughly replaced by machinery, but that's more of a practical reason for why we haven't tried doing this, not a theoretical one for why we couldn't.

Reptiles are not easily tamed, in fact most of them that we use as pets only tolerate you because you are too big to eat.

 

Reptiles also do not walk long distances, their legs are not under them like mammals, reptiles are generally able to give bursts of speed but they cannot maintain this for long periods of time. Reptiles have little stamina.

 

Diapsids, which is what you are talking about when you say reptile, reptile is no longer considered a valid way to classify animals.

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Those were dinosaurs, not reptiles.

 

Dinosaurs are reptiles.

 

But they're related. Granted, so are birds, which are quite different from reptiles, but I'm willing to bet that ankylosaurus and triceratops are more closely related to modern lizards than modern birds. I will, however, admit my substantial ignorance even to what is known about the subject, so... Moving on.

 

 

By modern classification birds are reptiles - specifically dinosaurs.

 

And therefore ankylosaurus and triceratops are much more closely related to birds - both being dinosaurs, and lizards being in a separate reptile group.

 

It's all down to the meandering path of evolution. It's the same reason that although a bat and a bird might superficially look similar, a bat is much more closely related to a whale than a bird.

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Dinosaurs are reptiles.

 

 

By modern classification birds are reptiles - specifically dinosaurs.

 

And therefore ankylosaurus and triceratops are much more closely related to birds - both being dinosaurs, and lizards being in a separate reptile group.

 

It's all down to the meandering path of evolution. It's the same reason that although a bat and a bird might superficially look similar, a bat is much more closely related to a whale than a bird.

 

By your logic then, we are also reptiles as mammals descended from reptiles, ergo we are already using "reptiles" as pack animals via camels, donkeys and cattle.

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By your logic then, we are also reptiles as mammals descended from reptiles, ergo we are already using "reptiles" as pack animals via camels, donkeys and cattle.

 

 

Yes, this is the slight difficulty with strict cladistics. Taken to it's extreme, everything is a bacteria.

 

Though actually mammals evolved within the synapsids which are not true reptiles

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100,000 geckos leashed together like huskies would be a fun way to travel! :)

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