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

Larry Dunn wrote:
> From: "Jonathan" <spockjr@email.msn.com>
> >  Crocodiles do in fact hunt cooperatively on occasion ( I have seen
> >video of this)
> I too have seen footage of numerous crocodiles bringing a zebra into the
> water, but as far as I can tell the first crocodile to latch onto the
> zebra did not do so knowing that it would receive assistance from other
> crocodiles.  In other words, if no other crocodiles had been around, the
> attacking croc would still have behaved in precisely the same manner.

Aside from dogs and primates (maybe hyaenids and a few others), I don't
think many animals cooperate in the matter you describe.  They don't act
"knowing that [they] would receive assistance from other" members of their
species; they more likely act based on how confident they feel of making the
kill, with this confidence level being raised by the presence of others.
Others join in knowing they'll get a share of the spoils if they help out.
Pack hunting doesn't require much coordination to be effective.
> >(there are also cooperatively hunting birds, desert hawks routinely 
> >hunt hares together
> I understand that the hawks that do so (red tails?) only do it in
> marginal environments (ie, they don't show the same mutual attack
> strategies in better stocked enviromnents) and that this is not
> altruistic.  It's more an example of:
> "I saw it first"
> "No, I saw it first"

You could look at it like that.  You could also look at it like:

"Food is scarce.  If you help we'll be more likely to catch our prey, and
half a meal is better than none."

This scenario leads to less energy wasted on conflict and requires very
little in the way of brainpower; it could actually all be done on instinct.
> Altruism in this case would be *not* to strike at the hare the other
> dino-bird is going after.

That's one kind of altruism.  Another is giving part of your meal away to
secure cooperation in the future (it is altruistic because you are giving
something to another while denying it to yourself; in the short run, it's
altruistic).  Again, this requires very little in the way of brainpower.
It's just a good trick critters with a minimum amount of grey matter can
figure out when need be.