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Re: Would the Real Dromaeosaur please walk thru the door?

On Wed, May 23, 2001 at 07:25:11AM -0000, omtvedt@hjem.as scripsit:
> On Tue, 22 May 2001 20:29:55 -0400 Graydon <graydon@dsl.ca> wrote:
> >> On the contrary, it is easy to assume these animals were far from
> >> stupid, we have found them in supppossed packs. Struthioformes are
> >> not hunters, per say. And they don't hunt in packs and round up
> >> prey. And brain size has never been a suitable case for measuring
> >> intelligence.  If you look at what the animal tells us thru the
> >> fossil record, and not try to see dromaeosaurs thru the modern bird
> >> of your choice, we have a better chance at having a more open mind
> >> on the possibilities of dromaeosaur capabilities.
> >
> >Keep in mind that most carnivores aren't smart; they have good
> >reflexes.  It's generally the omnivores that are smart.  (more varied
> >situations to deal with, and more benefit from trying new things.)
> >
> I think the statement " Keep in mind that most carnivores aren't
> smart; they have good reflexes. It's generally the omnivores that are
> smart." ...is a very limited one. 

Intelligence is driven by suites of brain function that can be co-opted
by generalization of function; omnivores, required to have a broader
range of feeding behaviors by a diet that varies in environment of
acquisition and which tends to emphasize lots of individually small food
sources, seem to have a tendency to a greater range of co-optable

So critters with diets found in varied environments -- pigs, raccoons,
primates -- seem to be smarter than critters with strong dietary
specializations, which covers most carnivores -- using 'carnivore' to
cover 'preys on other terrestrial vertebrates' -- which have in
additions to the dietary specialization generally much more investment
in single feeding attempts, don't *tend* to have as many generalizable

Socialization and species scaling and relative prey sizes all affect
this as well; if the carnivore is relatively smaller than the prey
animals, the investment in each feeding attempt goes *up*, and I'd
expect that to increase brain specialization; small amounts of
difference in risk assessment will start producing differential
reproductive success.

> I cannot accept that carnivores are subordinate to omnivore or
> herbivore intelligence and adaptivity. That makes no sense. It would
> appear it is difficult enough to retrieve prey in a standard 3 to 1
> predator/prey ratio environment, let alone assume the predators are
> "dumb". The skill of ensnarling prey is far from simple, and when it
> is you against a herd, you have to be smarter than your prey.
> Reflexes are given to carnivores for maneuverability, not to make up
> for smarts. 

Not quite what I'm saying; I'm saying that *generalizable* brain
function seems to depend on varied food source environments.

There's the general purpose brain size arms race in mammals, too, which
muddies mammal examples, so to use birds, raptorial birds are not smart
at all; psitticines are very smart indeed.  

Ratites aren't smart, either, despite varied diet, so perhaps my
generalization has a problem, but I think it holds for the most part --
do ratites vary their feeding *environment* much?

               To maintain the end is to uphold the means.