[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Dr. Bakker and Dinosaur intellegence (was: Fwd: Bakkermania!)



At 05:43 AM 5/25/98 -0400, Dinogeorge wrote:
>Without Bakker, there wouldn't be nearly the interest in dinosaurs, both
>academic and popular, that there is today. 

I have to say that I have been on this list for three years now, and I am
always astounded by the Bakker-bashing that goes on...It's as if people
on the newsgroup sci.astro were saying, "Galileo -- What an annoying little 
twit!", or something like that.  However, I am glad this time to see many
eloquently coming to Dr. Bakker's defense!

After all, he's the one who popularized all our new ideas about
dinosaurs and proved that they were scientifically credible...If it weren't
for him saying that one day back in the 50's, "There's something wrong
with our dinosaurs", dinosaurs would today still be dismissed as
swamp-dwelling 
behemoths, and the current popular and scientific interest in dinosaurs
probably wouldn't exist.

I realize that Bakker isn't right all the time, but who is?  Even Galileo
wasn't -- He completely rejected Kepler's discovery that the planets move
in ellipses not perfect circles.  The point is, Bakker deserves credit
for energizing debate and getting us thinking a new way about dinosaurs.

>By the way, the big predatory thecodonts were probably too slow to catch a
>_Coelophysis_, much as they might have wanted to.

Didn't Rauisuchians have a semi-sprawling gait, so that the fully upright
Coelophysids would have had a distinct advantage?

>Heaven knows whether Bakker believes any of the things he says about
>dinosaurs, but I would defy anyone to >disprove< most of his assertions.
Maybe
>dinosaurs >were< as smart as he says; what makes you think they weren't? 

Before someone says, "Because they had small brains", I think I'll throw
in my 2 cents on this issue...I'm looking at _The Dinosaur Data Book_, and 
even though it insists that dinosaurs "were probably no more intellegent 
than modern reptiles", it shows a scale of brain size vs. body weight, with 
_Apatosaurus_ having a brain 0.001% its body weight.  Doing the math
from the list of dinosaur Encephalization Quotients on the facing page,
_Velociraptor_ had a brain 0.029% of its body weight -- still seemingly
tiny, but according to the graph, the great whales (universally acknowledged 
as intellegent creatures) have brains only 0.003% their body weight!  Great
whales had brains as small compared to their body size as did many
dinosaurs!!!
Conclusion that I draw from this: We cannot deduce the intellegence of 
dinosaurs (or any animal) from sheer brain size.

I frankly think that the old "Golden Rule" about brain size = intellegence 
is as archaic as the pelycosaurs, and we're going to be able to get any 
real insight on dinosaur intellegence from two things: Fossil evidence of 
their behavior patterns (which seem to me above and beyond any mere
reptilian),
and from the intellegence of their living relatives...As John McLoughlin
points
out in _Archosauria_, living dinosaurs (birds), have proved themselves to be 
not stupid and in some cases downright intellegent, and so "we must at last
relegate our old visions of dunderheaded dinosaurs to the archives of
interesting ideological relics."


                             -- Dave

************************************************************************
 Dave Hardenbrook, DaveH47@delphi.com, http://people.delphi.com/DaveH47/  

   "We have enough food to last thirty thousand years but we've only 
    got one After Eight mint left.  And everyone's too polite to take it."

                        -- Holly the computer, from _Red Dwarf_