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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
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
No, but it means that we should never assume that novel morphology is an
indicator of specialisation. It may mean the opposite.
In the case of dromaeosaurs, I was reacting against the notion that
because they look derived, they must have been specialised (and we've
just got to figure out what that specialisation is).
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.
You're saying we're a specialised generalist. That sorta makes
meta-sense I suppose, but it may be true of many organisms, or indeed
all generalists. It could be true of dromaeosaurs.
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...
I've think I've lost the analogy to dramaeosaurs now...