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Re: Sinosauropteryx filament melanosomes challenged

At another level, our assessment of complexity can be biased by assigning 
differential levels of importance to those physical systems that are 
particularly complex in humans. Is the complex brain of a human a greater 
adaptive "achievement" (I use the term highly advisedly) than the complex trunk 
of an elephant (nothing in our muscular system even comes close)?  Or the 
syrinx of a bird, which stands in comparison to our larynx as an organ does to 
a tin whistle (and yes, I am aware that the two are not homologous)?  Further, 
complexity does not necessarily mean higher function - do mammalian middle ears 
really provide more acute hearing than do the ears of birds, for example? 
(well, perhaps in some respects as mammals rely more on hearing in general for 
prey detection and predator avoidance than do birds -- could the evolution of 
the mammalian
middle ear have been in part a response to a switch to nocturnal behavior? -- 
though the hearing skills of passerine birds must be acute given their level of 
song complexity).

Ronald Orenstein 
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, ON
Canada L5L 3W2

On 2010-12-08, at 8:22 AM, Augusto Haro <augustoharo@gmail.com> wrote:

> Nice debate on complexity. I always thought about complexity as a
> measure given by the number of parts and relations between them in a
> system. We seem to be more complex than other life forms in our number
> of different nervous responses, and under such consideration, also
> would be other mammals with respect to non-mammals in general.
> Although, nobody tries to measure it for the perceivable difficulty of
> so doing. I am less sure about seeing some increase of complexity in
> the anatomy of a mammal compared with that of other tetrapods, and
> perhaps vertebrates.
> On a functional level, there is other general definition from the
> sciences of complexity, made popular by Chrichton in "The Lost World",
> but also supported by my youth hero Stuart Kauffman: a system
> functioning between chaotic and ordered behaviours (both
> deterministic). This has nothing to do with counting parts and
> relationships, and may not be strictly measurable. We are as complex
> as a bacteria if both operate in the same deterministic regime.
> Indeed, if there is some general dynamics or arrangement that confer
> complexity, the way we want to functionally define it, it may be the
> same at different organization levels (and these similar properties
> are what theorists "of all" look for), and thus defining which one is
> more complex, if a mammal or a bacteria, would be a futile exercise,
> whatever the number of parts and accessory relationships present in
> the former.
> Regarding energy flow rates, we should remember ectothermic/
> heterothermic insects perform a larger share of it than us
> vertebrates. It is also related to absolute mass of the individual and
> also abundance of the species. And, in the case of the humankind, on
> the policies regarding consumerism.