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Re: So how intelligent were troodontids?

On 12/20/03 11:03 AM, "David Marjanovic" <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:

>> However, since intelligence takes place in the brain, you need to have a
>> substantial central processing unit to run that software.
> Unfortunately we have no idea what "substantial" means in material measures.
> For computers we know at least that an 8 MB harddisk is the same size as a
> 40 GB one... I doubt that the newer ones with 180 GB are bigger in size.

Except that neurons aren't shrinking when the organic units increase in
size.  That is, a 180 GB disk is still relatively small because we've gotten
good at packing it tighter; the disk is denser.

Couple other quick thoughts...

I noticed a couple of quick notes regarding hunting and intelligence.  As
far as I can remember, there isn't any known connection (beyond some very
subjective assessments) that hunting and intelligence are that heavily
linked.  Seems that way in mammals to some extent (carnivores and primates
do perform better in tests), but that's about it.  Snakes, monitors,
turtles, fish all hunt very well without large brains, and presumably
without high intelligence. Furthermore, critters with rapid reflexes or
movement, or with increased sensory ability might be just as likely to have
large brains.  

I'd also like to echo HP Jeff Hecht and ask what metric of intelligence we
are using (we hardly know what it really is in humans).  Learning ability is
a popular one, this is how animals such as cetaceans have come to be
considered highly intelligent.  However, even this is hard to get a grip
on...my MataMata (a turtle) learned a hand cue for food within the first 7
days I had her.  However, I hardly would consider her intelligent.

Behavioral complexity seems to be the metric being used on the list at the
moment; this is a good metric but VERY hard to really define or measure.
And again, this metric requires that some animals usually not considered
intelligent be given that recognition (which may be the correct answer, but
it will tend to surprise some people).

So...reconstructing how intelligent some theropods were depends a great deal
on what metric you use, and how important you think intelligence is to
various behaviors/lifestyles.

--Mike Habib