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Dinosauroid Revisited



http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/crow/index.html

Dinosauroid Revisited

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?

Brain Size-
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.


Language-
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.


Posture-
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.