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Re: Raptors climbing trees?

If we can't see what they're specialised /for/, then we can't know
they are specialised. Dromaeosaurs may be /derived/, but that is not the same as specialised.

For example, /Homo/ is a pretty derived genus, but also one helluva generalist. <<<

That's of course true, but only serves to delineate the limits of current methodology; it can't be used as evidence for an evolutionary scenario that contradicts the adapations that are acruing across phylogenetic time.

Also your example is (IMO) instructive; future (alien?) paleontologists certainly could not infer specific human behavior from morphology alone (though one imagines an abundance of archaeological data may be available), yet given a fossil record similar to the one we currently have the trend towards a larger brain would be clear. Since higher EQ more or less correlates with increases in behavioral felxibility (especially within clades) they most certainly could infer that we were adapting (specializing, I dare say) in behavioral flexibility while losing some physical prowess.

In short, if they found an airplane or perhaps our tracks on the moon I think these hypothetical paleontologists would attribute those behaviors to our increased cranial capacity rather than plesiomorphic (and reduced) abilities that allow us to move about in trees...

Scott Hartman Science Director Wyoming Dinosaur Center 110 Carter Ranch Rd. Thermopolis, WY 82443 (800) 455-3466 ext. 230 Cell: (307) 921-8333