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Re: The Potentials.... [LONG REPLY]



Concerning how intelligence might have evolved in _H. sapiens_, etc.:

    1)    Primates seem to have started out (3-5 mya after K-T) with brains
that were 10-20% larger than one might have anticipated (i.e. via Brain vs.
body mass ratios).
    2)    The use of tools was an additional advantage that many primates
had over other animals (Yes, I know that crows, and raccoons, and bears, and
several other animals also have been know to use tools as well).
    3)    With the development of larger braincases, the early hominids
enlarged areas of the brain that help with hand-eye coordination, targeting
moving creatures, and discerning pattern changes that indicate that prey (or
perhaps a predator) was nearby.  These were advantages, because the hominids
could hunt for food with better "luck" and avoid more predators .  These
types of advantages would also be worthwhile passing on to offspring, and to
more evolutionary refinements of the specific areas.
    4)    Apparently at least 500,000 years ago (and possibly as far back as
2.6 mya), hominids were CREATING semi-permanent tools (Stone axes and
cutters, etc.).  Interestingly enough, 90 % of the tools found seem to have
been built by and for right-handed hominids (showing a bias towards
right-handedness far earlier than anyone may have previously suspected).
This indicates that the creators and users of the tools had slightly larger
and more developed left half of their brains.  (This matches up with the
areas of the brain that control the items mentioned above [#3]).
    5)    If this is the case, why do we have left-handed people today?  I
think it is because many left-handed people have artistic inclinations and
some might say more creativity than right-handers.  This is not a hard and
fast rule, but a statistical generalization.  {P.S. I am right-handed, with
some tendencies towards ambidexterity}.  It would be good for the overall
development of the species to maintain the creative element, to some extent.

As to which dinosaurs may have evolved into more intelligent creatures:
    I generally agree with those that say  _Troodontids_, although I don't
agree with the anthropomorphizing of _Troodon_ into Dale Russell's dino-man.
Why should they lose their tails?  In fact, their tails might have gotten
larger to balance the increase in head size and weight.

    By the way, intelligence might become a goal in and of itself for
evolution, and might become a 'runaway' specialization - sort of the problem
of positive feedback (electrical engineers, back me up on this)....

        Allan Edels


-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Campbell <sankarah@ou.edu>
To: dollan@cyberport.net <dollan@cyberport.net>
Cc: Dinosaur Mailing List <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Date: Sunday, July 26, 1998 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: The Potentials....


>John M. Dollan wrote:
>>
>> Chris Campbell wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > My guess is that it wouldn't happen at all.  Dinosaurs did very well
for
>> > well over 200 million years without moving toward sapience, and I see
no
>> > reason whatsoever why they'd inevitably move in that direction.  More
>> > likely they'd tend toward more specialized forms, leaving sapience out
>> > of the picture.
>>
>> Ah...this has been a wondering point for me ever since I started this
>> project.  But could not intelligence be a specialized form of
>> specialization...kind of a runaway form of specialization?
>
>Yes, this is possible.  I'm not saying dinosaur sapience is impossibly,
>just highly unlikely.  It was, IMO, highly unlikely with mammals as
>well; primates just had the right set of conditions needed for it to
>occur, which was a stroke of good fortune for us.
>
>>Now, I'm not well versed on what factors might have lead to human
>>intelligence, but I had always thought it a result of climatic
>>pressures....the need to adapt to the Ice Age climate...the
>>adaption to open spaces rather than woodland...the change into
>>a cooperative manner of group living...and so on and such.
>
>I believe it was a variety of things.  Climatic pressures was one, an
>omnivorous diet (leading to scarce resources and the possibility of
>intraspecific selection pressures) was another, new reproductive
>strategies yet another, and an unstable environment yet another.  I
>think all of these things combined to create a very specific set of
>conditions conducive to the development of sapience in humans.
>
>> > However, since this is speculative fiction you're talking about that
>> > answer doesn't help you much.  That being the case I'll say that IMO
the
>> > dino most likely to develop sapience would likely be a coelurosaur of
>> > some sort.  This group has proven to be very very flexible, giving rise
>> > to a wide variety of forms relying on more brainpower than your average
>> > dino.  I think it definitely would *not* be a dromaeosaur or
troodontid;
>> > these are specialized forms, and I wouldn't expect sapience out of them
>> > any more than a leopard or a wolf.
>>
>> How about an Oviraptorid?  I'm not sure what type you mean when you say
>> coelurosaurs, since they seem to encompass a wide variety of animals.
>
>Yes, that's true, they do.  I'm not sure any existing group would give
>rise to sapience, but something with a coelurosaur base would be a good
>candidate since it's flexible enough to respond to the conditions which
>would allow sapience to flourish.  Oviraptorids are as good as anything
>IMO.
>
>Chris
>