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Re: Elephants and hyenas

----- Original Message -----

> From: Dann Pigdon <dannj@alphalink.com.au>
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Cc: 
> Sent: Sunday, 7 April 2013 6:42 PM
> Subject: RE: Elephants and hyenas
> On Mon, Apr 8th, 2013 at 4:39 AM, john-schneiderman@cox.net wrote:
>>  I think that the ways of birds and crocodylia are our best models for 
>>  parental care and/or defense of the young within the dinosauria. 
>>  Dinosaurs were not mammals and mammal behaviour shouldn't be used as a 
>>  guide to what we consider dinosaur behaviour. Tempting as it is.
> Then again, birds and crocs are highly specialised archosaurs. We can't 
> assume that non-avian 
> dinosaurs behaved any more like modern archosaurs than they did modern 
> mammals. 


Despite their specializations, the similarities between these two extant groups 
make for our best inferences of what dinosaurs did. We could extend our bracket 
out a bit further to lepidosaurs, to look for traits that were shared with 
birds and crocs, and incorporate those too. We might even use seeming 
lepidosaur only traits if we can justify it in dinosaurs.

The point is that dinosaurs and mammals are extremely far removed from one 
another. Even when we take into account the specializations seen in our extant 
archosaurs, inferences based on their behaviour are still better for 
reconstructing dinosaurs than comparisons with basal amniotes like mammals.