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The new research on tool making Caledonian crows made me reconsider Dale
Russell?s ?Dinosauroid? more seriously than I did before. I think many have
dismissed his idea as being unrealistic and dubious at best. But since some
birds, which are theropod dinosaurs, have the ability to fabricate tools and
display the capacity for complex cognition, it is quite possible, in my
opinion, that had dinosaurs survived, they very well may have evolved a tool
using form. They could have started out as animals that use twigs and thorns
to pick grubs out of trees and logs. This adaptation could have later
evolved and expanded into other skills, such as using rocks to crack open
eggs, or using twigs to draw out termites. Tool using dinosaurs with bigger
brains and more dexterous hands would have an advantage. Selective forces
would have produced increasingly intelligent and manipulative forms. Could
they have evolved into a sentient, speaking and tool making life form
convergent with humans?
Some birds have brain sizes comparable to primates. Since Troodonts evolved
from the same evolutionary stock as birds, it is possible that they too
could have evolved similar brain sizes under the right conditions. If
Troodonts evolved the same relative brain size as humans, the brain case
would mushroom out while the rest of the skull would be reduced. The snout
would probably be shortened to allow for better stereoscopic vision. The
neck would probably be shortened as well to help support the weight.
Since birds are among the most vocal of all animals, this is hardly an
issue. An intelligent dinosaur could have easily evolved a complex system of
vocal communication that potentially could have become more sophisticated
than our own.
This is a little harder for me to figure out. Would they have evolved an
upright posture as Russell suggested? Since dinosaurs with long arms tend
have smaller and lighter skulls, while dinosaurs with big skulls tend to
have shorter arms, a ?dinosauroid? might have evolved an upright posture to
support the heavy skull and the long arms. Either that, or it would have
simply evolved a longer and heavier tail. An upright posture with wide
shoulders would have given the ?dinosauroid? a wider range of motion with
its arms. This would have allowed the ?dinosauroid? to throw objects in
self-defense. To be fair to Russell, the palntigrade posture he gave his
?dinosauroid? is not all that unlikely. There are footprints that show some
theropods walking in a flat-footed fashion at least part of the time.
Those are my thoughts regarding the old ?dinosauroid? concept. I should note
that if you send me e-mail, I might not be able to respond for some time
because I currently do not have easy access to a computer.