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



>> It also depends on what you describe as "intelligent". Crocodiles do
>> things that seem intelligent in some respects: co-operative hunting
>> similar to any lion or wolf, herding fish into shallows for easier
>> capture just like dolphins sometimes do, communal creches amongst
>> camans like those of flamingos. I'm sure the list goes on.
>
>Really?  The last good croc book I read did indeed talk about the
>social and nature of crocodiles, but I certainly don't remember it
>talking about cooperative hunting.  In fact, I thought that since
>crocodiles don't hunt cooperatively and I don't know of any birds that
>do, dinosaurs were nicely bracketed to _not_ be cooperative hunters
>either.


  Crocodiles do in fact hunt cooperatively on occasion ( I have seen video
of this) as well as display "intelligence" above the level that is normally
attributed to "lower" vertebrates (there are also cooperatively hunting
birds,
desert hawks routinely hunt hares together, and crows also taunt other
animals as a group, not hunting perhaps but interesting nonetheless).
   Most of the problem with interpreting animal behavior stems from
our anthropocentric views which are severely outdated and I might
add, downright silly. Ingrained in our beliefs is what people have been
taught for centuries, that any behavior by an animal which is even
remotely "human-like" must be attributed to instinct or chance, seeing as
how they are not human.  Of course the proper interpretation of this
behavior should be that since humans are animals, this shared behavior is
plesiomorphic for the group as a whole (but being egocentric freaks of
nature,
we tend not to think this way. No offense).
Taking extant birds for example; In general, they are intelligent, by this I
would define intelligence as the capacity to learn and understand.  Crows
routinely surpass other animals in problem-solving tests including mice,
dogs, cats, and yes, our closest relative, the chimpanzee.  On top of that,
crows can be taught
english (or whatever other language you prefer).  This is not to say that
all birds are brilliant but there is a range of intelligence across all
animal groups not necessarily defined by the class or order.
    Since dinosaurs are much more closely related to modern birds than
crocs, I believe you could assume dinosaurs were at the very least,
relatively intelligent (as defined by humans).
    I was recently at a zoo in Florida where a zoo-keeper was about to
feed an alligator a fish with medicine in it because the gator had been
bitten
by one of his mates. The previous day however, the alligator had been
caught and tied up by the same guy to treat him for the bite.  When the
zoo-keeper approached the alligator, he split, quickly, rushing to the
safety
of the water, while the other 4 or 5 gators watched.
Of course this situation can be interpreted several ways but I would guess
that learning ability played a part here.  Does this behavior make the
alligator
any smarter than a mammal of similar size? Not necessarily but by what
definition would you suggest they are any less intelligent?  All told, the
arguments over animal intelligence depend on the interpretation of the
person defining it.
Just a thought (that perhaps got a bit carried away).

"...and Ren, if you put your nerve-endings under your pillow, the
nerve-ending fairy will come and give you a hundred bucks...then you can buy
some new teeth."

Jonathan Weinbaum

Spockjr@msn.com