"Wild animals are more scared of humans than humans are of them" is a saying that is usually used to comfort hikers that even giant predators, like pumas and bears, present little threat to humans. But humans are not as fast and as powerful as these animals, so what's preventing these predators from consuming every clothed ape they run into?
Humans Are Bipedals
Likely reasons why they don't attack humans more frequently are not too many. Taking a look at our physiology, humans developed to be two-footed - from propelling with all four limbs to moving erect on longer legs, as per a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, John Hawks.
Hawks told Live Science that being two-footed is accompanied by some threat level. And when humans look at other primates like chimpanzees and gorillas, for example - they stand to exhibit threats. With their looks being larger, they are threatening, and that is actually a simple way of communicating to predators that you are a problem.
Humans may look bigger because of bipedalism and therefore more menacing to other species, but there are also disadvantages. It is generally slower to walk on two legs than on four, implying that humans have left any reason for running faster than any four-legged animal, as per Hawks.
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Hawks said: "It's kind of like a bluff, It's like, 'I'm moving around; I'm tough; I'm revealing where I am on a landscape.'" These animals see the erect stance and make assumptions that humans are stronger than we actually are, as per Hawks. However, even if they were to name our two-footedness bluff, wild animals have other reasons to let us be.
Larger primates, like humans and chimps, live together and embraced the strategy of violently protecting themselves against threats, which normally works against predators, Hawks said. What has helped keep us safe is being social, together with the benefits of being two-footed.
As human technology becomes more advanced, humans produced an arsenal of advanced weapons, like bows and guns, that could be used from a far location. Humans became very deadly with these weapons, that they started taking the fight to wild animals.
Decrease in the Population of Predators
Another reason humans are hardly mauled by large wild animals is that there has been a decrease in their numbers.
Justin Suraci, a lead scientist in community ecology and conservation biology at Conservation Science Partners, a nonprofit conservation science organization situated in California, told Live Science they've been making effort to fundamentally clear the landscape that we use of large wild animals for a very long time.
Suraci noted that large predators and their abodes go through great losses in the U.S. before and into the 20th century, prior to the passing of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
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