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Re: The Question Of The Day ?



                (WARNING!!! Bakker-ian imagery ahead!)

Among dinosaurs, my favorites are the ceratopsians, especially Triceratops
and Centrosaurus, the buffalo of their time, darkening the plains with
their great herds.  Powerful and dangerous when confronted, they must have
had great influence on moulding the ecology of their habitat, and would have
spurred their enemies the tyrannosaurs to ever-more sophisticated armaments
and behaviour to match their defensive might and great numbers.

Two of my most favourite ancient animals are not dinosaurs, and are still
alive today: dragonflies and cephalopod molluscs, both of which date back
to the Paleozoic.

You see how gloriously colourful, powerful, and intelligent (for a bug)
modern dragonflies are?  Well, think back to the Carboniferous epoch, when
their kind were the unchallenged masters of the air, and they weren't
constrained by size, coloration or behaviour to hide or escape from aerial
enemies -- they would have been even more exquisitely adapted to their roles
as apex aerial predators.

Octopuses today are perceptive and intelligent creatures.  Their cousins
the nautiloids and ammonoids swarmed through the oceans for even longer
than the dinosaurs lived on land.  With their tentacles capable of extremely
precise manipulation, excellent eyesight, complex skin-colour-change based
communication, and an ability to solve abstract problems, Earth might have
had an intelligent molluscan civilization 300 million years ago, if there
were any value to an underwater technological society!

--
  Mike Bonham     bonham@jade.ab.ca    Jade Simulations International
``What have they got, a lot of sand?  We've got a hot crustacean band!''
                                                (Johann Sebatian Crab)