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Re: dromaeosaurid intelligence

On Wed, 23 May 2001 01:42:48  
 Luis Rey wrote:

>Although the relation between brain size >inside a specific species< is
>irrelevant, there IS a correlation between brain size, intelligence and
>general body mass between species. The brain of a whale (or of an
>elephant) is bigger than ours but not proportionately to body mass.
>And there's a much more clear correlation between brain organization,
>complexity  and intelligence... and increase of brain size helps
>(obviously). The reptilian brain is much more stereotypical in behavior
>than a mammal's . If the brain of Velociraptor was like that of a
>chicken... can the scope and spectrum and sophistication of mental
>capabilities of a chicken be compared to those of a chimpanzee... or
>even to us?

This is a great point, and I was planning on posting a derivative of it until I 
read Luis' post.  

It is obvious that brain size, and even brain size to body size ratio, alone 
cannot really tell if one animal is smarter than another.  Intelligence, within 
a species, is not so much due to the large brain size, but how the brain 
functions.  That's where gray matter and nerve impulses, etc. come in.  
Shaquille O'Neal's brain is probably larger than Stephen Hawking's, but that 
means absolutely nothing.  

Generally, though, when looking at a group of different genera, familes, 
orders, etc., etc., brain mass to body mass ratio is a good indicator of 
comparative intelligence.  By looking at brain size and comparing it to body 
size we can, as HP Rey pointed out, say that humans are more intelligent than 
whales.  We can also tell that frogs, say, are less intelligent than apes.  

The problem with brain mass to body mass ratio is it only takes in size, not 
the volume of gray matter, the speed of electrial impulses, etc., which really 
are the factors that determine intelligence.  In response to Chandler's post on 
Einstein's brain, I don't recall if it was actually a pound lighter than the 
average human brain (that may be pushing it a bit), but I do recall that one 
study showed his brain allowed for faster electrial activity between individual 
nerve cells.  That is why, coupled with other factors, Einstein was one of the 
more intelligent humans of his generation.  And, I'm sure that the same, or 
something like it, is true of Stephen Hawking.  

What does this mean for dinosaurs?  Until we can find a good sample (a few 
hundred) of dinosaur brains composed of living tissue, then discerning exactly 
how intelligent Velociraptor was in relation to Dromaeosaurus or Troodon is 
next to impossible.  However, we can make a relatively good guess about the 
general intelligence of dromaeosaurs, troodontids, etc. by looking at the brain 
mass to body mass ratio.


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