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Re: dromaeosaurid intelligence
I agree completely with you. And to add a little bit more... The brain
is designed, in humans in a "worms" design, which allows it to have a
considerate bigger gray mass of neurons than in those animals with a
straight brain surface. This "worms" design still allows the division of
functions in centers, limited by the 'valleys (inner)' and the 'peaks
(tops)', which are not the only locations of these functions, but the main
locations. To the brain mass to body mass ratio matter, the question is: how
far does it goes? This ratio shows that when the brain is big and the body,
small, the complexity of behavior is greater, because it lasts more 'brain'
to be used than it´s in fact used for the surviving functions (walk, run,
eat, breathe,etc.). And then the mating and hunting tactics' functions can
be more developed than in lower ratios.
The Dromaeosaurids could, according to some researchers, be evolved to a
smarter form, and even achieved the "first humans' intelligence level", and
created societies, that could evolve to primitive civilizations and,
finally, they could rule the world as we, humans, do today.
In the reptiles and birds intelligance subject, some considerations
should be made. First, in the reptiles subject, there are some crocodiles in
a river in Africa (I don't remember the name, but I´ve seen it in a
Discovery Channel documentary too) that join around a small waterfall,
forming a semicircle, with their mouths open. Then, when a fish touches
their mouth, they close it fast, capturing the fish (and a meal). This is
strange to crocs, because they normally are territorialists and agressive
with each other, mostly in feeding matters. This tolerance behavior could be
explained by the survival instinct, but not for crocs. Other question is
that the male crocs accept female crocs in their territory in the mating
season, but not other male crocs, as it happens in this case. Could it be
the 'smart' sense of crocs working for their benefit?
In birds, the parrots were brought to the discussion. Well, some
scientists explain the parrots' behavior by the 'imitation' of humans or by
the 'order and reward' theories. But some behavior of parrots cannot be
explained by these theories, like those parrots that can actually form
sentences and chose between the words to answer a question. This can be only
explained by the reasoning. Other curious behavior is the egiptian vulture
(_Neophron percnopterus_), that uses his beak to hold a stone and he uses
this as a tool to open ostrich's eggs. Another one is the "Roadrunner"
(_Geococcyx californianus_), that with his about 55cm long, can reach
between 16 and 24 km/h speed, reaching untill 12 steps per second, in
pursuit of the prey (small lizards and insects), and when he caches the
prey, he hits it on the ground several times (to broke its bones and
'soften' it) before swallowing, normally entire. And, the Stercorary
(_Stercorarius skua_), that pursuits his victim (in the air) untill it (the
victim) drops the meal (fish or crustacean), and then he catches it before
it falls in the ocean, and in the reproduction time, he prefers to eat the
eggs and/or the young birds.
So, let´s not underestimate nature and its mysteries... Let´s find them,
respecting whatever they mean or are to us (because they may not be what we
think they are..).
( firstname.lastname@example.org )
"Dinosaurs are the most interesting and amazing mystery of nature!"
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Brusatte" <email@example.com>
To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2001 11:05 PM
Subject: 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
> 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
> 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.
> Steve Brusatte-DINO LAND PALEONTOLOGY
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