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Re: Raptors climbing trees?



dinoboygraphics@aol.com wrote:
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.

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...

Cheers,
John

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Palaeontography: http://palaeo.jconway.co.uk