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Would Dinosaurs Got Smart?

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Xerographica
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Would Dinosaurs Got Smart?

Postby Xerographica » Thu Jul 29, 2021 2:04 am

If dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out, would any of them have evolved to our level of intelligence? In order to answer this question we first need to understand how we got smart.

Physically speaking, we aren't the best at running, or swimming, or flying. But we are the best at doing one thing...moving resources. Sure, a lion can move a much bigger piece of meat than we can, but it can't also move its cub at the same time. We, on the other hand, can simultaneously carry offspring, food, weapons and other tools.

Our bodies are the most resourceful, and our brains are the smartest. Is this a coincidence? Nope. Deciding what to carry really isn't easy. The more water you carry, the less offspring, food, and weapons and tools you'll be able to carry. Correctly figuring out the optimal combination of resources requires brainpower. Our ancestors with the most brainpower made better carrying decisions, and as a result they exerted greater influence on the gene pool. Voila, here we are.

Admittedly there are other theories regarding the causes of human intelligence, but they are all clearly incorrect.

This dinosaur with relatively long arms is decent evidence that it was inevitable that some dinosaur would have reached our level of intelligence. Before this could happen though, dinosaurs were wiped out. It was a timed event. It is always a timed event.

If tomorrow an alien visits our planet, one thing is for certain... it's going to be humanoid in appearance. But what are the chances that it will be cold blooded, like a dinosaur, or warm blooded, like us?

One thing I might as well point out, in case you missed it, is that carrying decisions no longer exert noticeable influence on the gene pool. If you don't carry enough water, or food, when you go somewhere, you can just buy some. Therefore we've reached peak intelligence. This might change though with space colonization. It's not like there are many convenience stores in space.
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Nilokeras
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Postby Nilokeras » Thu Jul 29, 2021 2:25 am

Utterly nonsensical ecology and chronology. Early tool use is a situational phenomena - tools were crafted and employed for specific uses and then discarded. You can see this in action with crows and higher primates. The point at which tools became specialized enough for our ancestors to want to take them with them from place to place and, indeed, the point at which storage of resources became part of our culture came well after the development of tools and human-level intelligence.

And in terms of dinosaurs evolution is not a straight line towards intelligence. Dinosaurs were around for almost 300 million years and did not develop into the Voth because there was no evolutionary pressure pushing one of their many branches towards it, despite many long armed dinosaurs.

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Postby United States of Sarjania » Thu Jul 29, 2021 2:37 am

Intriguing topic, but I gotta say this; we became ”smart” because we were forced to. The dinosaurs were perfect predators and didn’t need to be more intelligent to hunt for meat or leaves from a tree.

If the meteor didn’t hit, the status quo would have lasted for who knows how long. The dinosaurs, not all of them, would have survived Ice Ages by migrating South to the Equator.

And, say, Tyrannosaurus Rex, would not need any tools because everything it hunts is either smaller than it or unable to defend itself. We crafted tools to hunt prey bigger than us, and fire to cook the prey. T-rex didn’t need to cook and season the smaller dino to eat it.

In a Nutshell: Dinosaurs didn’t need bigger brains to survive, but we did.
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Postby Bombadil » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:22 am

One thing T. Rex’s would be perfectly evolved for is working on a laptop while flying in economy, those tiny arms would’ve been ideal.
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Postby Forsher » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:40 am

Xerographica wrote:This dinosaur with relatively long arms is decent evidence that it was inevitable that some dinosaur would have reached our level of intelligence. Before this could happen though, dinosaurs were wiped out. It was a timed event. It is always a timed event.


I mean, dinosaurs repeatedly, and I mean repeatedly, evolved increasingly vestigial arms... and in one family they took this to the extreme and lost their arms entirely (see: Dinornithiformes). Yes, most examples are in Coelurosauria but not all of them.

With respect to:

Xerographica wrote:Physically speaking, we aren't the best at running, or swimming, or flying. But we are the best at doing one thing...moving resources. Sure, a lion can move a much bigger piece of meat than we can, but it can't also move its cub at the same time. We, on the other hand, can simultaneously carry offspring, food, weapons and other tools.


Lions also don't need to.

It should be noted that the traditional model is that human infants are particularly helpless... i.e. need carrying... because they have to be born earlier in the gestational process in order to accommodate their heads during birth (c.f. most mammals where birth is basically straightforward). OTOH, it's also argued that bipedalism necessarily requires this because the shoulders will get stuck otherwise.

Nilokeras wrote:Utterly nonsensical ecology and chronology. Early tool use is a situational phenomena - tools were crafted and employed for specific uses and then discarded. You can see this in action with crows and higher primates. The point at which tools became specialized enough for our ancestors to want to take them with them from place to place and, indeed, the point at which storage of resources became part of our culture came well after the development of tools and human-level intelligence.

And in terms of dinosaurs evolution is not a straight line towards intelligence. Dinosaurs were around for almost 300 million years and did not develop into the Voth because there was no evolutionary pressure pushing one of their many branches towards it, despite many long armed dinosaurs.


I know you don't like lecture notes but, in the context of, purely, the evolution of bipedality:

Image


Image


If being bipedal made humans intelligent (through creating selective pressure by having the best carriers survive more), you'd expect too use to come second... early "humans" can be carrying things other than either tools or children. The problem I have, is that it seems to lack a good reason for why humans became bipedal to start with... the notion of males carrying provisions makes a hell of a lot more sense for a species that is already either big brained or bipedal (implying troublesome births => restricted mobility, c.f. birds where they ferry food to the hatchlings/nesting parent). And, similarly, you'd expect such a species would be much less dependent on the ability of everyone to carry well due to specialisation of social members, so would the selection pressure exist?

A lot of these topics, just reading through my patchy notes (see here for what I mean), just seem to the Forsher of right now that the basal humans were a particularly social and perhaps physically weaker brand of ape. Say, you start with some population that's under ecological pressure that's just social enough, then you could see reasons for these things to happen. If you're doing assisted births for whatever reason, you've now got two social members out of action for the birth period... which gives some kind of incentive to carry food to both of them. And if you can carry food if you find it...

But that sounds a lot like the savannah hypothesis.

The extension to dinosaurs is nonsensical but I don't think the logic of "[cause of bipedalism] creates a selective advantage to carrying, which causes facultatively bipedal animals to increasingly favour bipedality => obligate bipeds down the line => increasing importance of carrying => selective pressure for those members able to best choose and best learn what to carry => selective pressure for strategic/economic intelligence => tools down the line" is wrong. And if it is wrong (it seems far too pat, but, then, patness, aka parsimony, is preferred in evolutionary biology), it cannot be so simply dismissed.

It's possible we talked about the carrying hypothesis later on in the course but I'm bored now and want to play a game so I won't check.
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Karodova
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Postby Karodova » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:43 am

Well kind of. Birds are theropods which are actually a group of dinosaurs. Crows and the rest of the Corvid family are very intelligent and they can solve problems.

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Postby Tremulo » Thu Jul 29, 2021 4:58 am

Alright, this is an easy one. Short answer: maybe.
Long answer:

The Troodontids showed quite a bit of promise when it comes to brain size, but there's no evidence of brain development. And it had alot to do with body structure. No, it wasn't humanoid. But it was from bipedalism. Bipedalism allowed them to become more active in hunting, and more intelligent. Longer arms certainly would have helped, but if they were intelligent they would have had better hand structure to manipulate objects. It's a shame they weren't allowed to evolve further, but the asteroid wasn't timed. Plus one has to remember that birds are dinosaurs, and corvids & psittacines have shown themselves to be quite intelligent

Also, aliens probably won't look anything like an organism from earth. Human evolution was a big fluke, and our evolution was influenced by very specific events in prehistory. It'd take a bazar amount of parallel evolution of both the aliens and their planet for them to be humanoid.

Additionally, no we haven't reached peak intelligence. Genetic engineering may be morally dubius, but it can, and most likely will, take humanity alot further.
Last edited by Tremulo on Thu Jul 29, 2021 10:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Old Tyrannia » Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:04 am

I'm interested to see how and if Xero will work their pet economic theories into this thread, like they've done with virtually every other thread they've ever posted, but in the meantime, allow me to reproduce a short essay that I wrote on this subject in a previous thread from a few years back.
Old Tyrannia wrote:Firstly, as has been pointed out already, dinosaurs aren't extinct. According to cladistic phylogenetics, birds are theropod dinosaurs, which means that not only did dinosaurs survive the KT extinction event but they continue to comprise the single most species-rich class of tetrapods, beating out mammals, reptiles and amphibians with around 10,000 known living species. These include some of the most intelligent known animal species. Corvids have been observed creating tools to help them acquire food, engaging in long-term planning by hiding food to collect it later, recognising individual human faces (Marzluff et al., 2010), recognising themselves in mirrors (Prior et al., 2008) and even exhibiting sophisticated mourning behaviour when one of their number dies (Bekoff, 2009). Although animal intelligence is notoriously hard to measure, it's clear from these cases studies that at least some birds rival primates and cetaceans in intelligence. However, it would be hard to say that any of these species have created anything resembling a "civilisation," although it could be argued that some exhibit culture- that is, generationally-transmitted learned behaviours.

So, if the non-avian dinosaurs had not gone extinct at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, would they have eventually created a civilisation comparable in sophistication to ours? The simple answer is, we have no way of knowing. The argument offered up earlier in this thread by Elvectiva that non-avian dinosaurs existed for over 185 million years without learning to use tools or create fire, and therefore could not have been capable of creating a civilisation, is meaningless. For one thing, we can't definitively say that there weren't dinosaurs capable of using tools or creating fire, although it may seem highly unlikely. For another, mammals have been around since at least the Late Triassic; it took them over 200 million years to produce us. What's more, mammalian diversity during the Mesozoic Era is now recognised as having been significantly greater than has long been supposed (Jin et al., 2006); it is not the case, as was once thought, that mammals showed little morphological diversity throughout the Mesozoic and then suddenly experienced a rapid diversification event following the KT mass extinction. It's simply not the case that a taxonomic group has to produce a civilisation within a given frame of time, or it's just never going to. I'm not sure what Elvectiva means by "our ancestors have existed for less than a million years." Our species is around 200,000-300,000 years old, but our genus is around 2 million years old, and "our ancestors" have of course been around for as long as the dinosaurs' have- given that we share common ancestors with them.

Although making authoritative statements on non-avian dinosaur intelligence is difficult, since we can't observe their behaviour and fossil evidence gives us precious little information, Risottia's remark that "non-avian dinosaurs, that is, the ones who went extinct, were anyway less intelligent than avian dinosaurs" seems fairly accurate; studies have suggested that non-avian dinosaurs possessed a smaller cerebrum-to-brain volume ratio than modern birds, although we can't really rule out the possibility that there are undiscovered dinosaur species with more highly developed cerebra. On the other hand, Risottia's dismissal of modern bird intelligence- while quite possibly facetious- is clearly inaccurate as I have pointed out above; some birds are undoubtedly amongst the most intelligent living animals. The development of larger and more sophisticated brains seems to have been a trend in coelurosaurs, so there's no reason to believe that they wouldn't have continued down this path (Larsson, 2001). Nonetheless, even if dinosaurs did continue to grow in intelligence throughout the Cenozoic, that's no guarantee that they would end up with a human-like intelligence. For one thing, a highly developed brain does not necessarily mean that you are highly intelligent in the way that we would think of intelligence. Significant portions of modern birds' brains are dedicated to processing sensory information, and this may have also held true for their non-avian relatives. Problem-solving skills and social behaviour require the development of particular regions of the brain. There's little reason to conclude that dinosaurs engaged in the sort of sophisticated social behaviour that might provide an evolutionary impetus for this sort of development- the OP's reference to the fact that dinosaurs formed herds, had territory and nesting grounds as evidence of early civilisational development is... Well, crazy, unless you believe that goats and sheep are on the verge of creating a civilisation (no offence, Kyrusia and Blaat).

Stronger evidence of the ability of dinosaurs to construct a civilisation would be evidence of cooperative hunting behaviour in coleurosaurian theropods. Firstly, such behaviour would indicate much higher level of organisation and communication than merely living and breeding in groups; secondly, we've already established that these are the dinosaurs most likely to construct our hypothetical dinosaur civilisation, since they showed a trend towards increased cerebral volume over time. Unfortunately, evidence for such behaviour is not forthcoming. The popular image of dromaeosaur dinosaurs such as the famed Velociraptor hunting in well-organised packs stems from the discovery of multiple individuals of the dromaeosaur Deinonychus in close association with the herbivorous dinosaur Tenontosaurus, and the assumption that a single Deinonychus would be unable to bring down such large prey on its own (Maxwell and Ostrom, 1995). However, there are other explanations for these discoveries. For example, multiple individuals may have been drawn to the carcass of an already-dead Tenontosaurus to scavenge. Further evidence of such behaviour is sparse, though there is a famous example of tracks showing several dromaeosaur dinosaurs (immediately recognisable by the famous sickle-claw on the second toe) moving in the same direction as a group (Li et al., 2007). Were they a hunting party? It's hard to say. Perhaps it was a family group. Although this shows that at least some dromaeosaurs did spend time in groups for some purpose, it hardly amounts to vindication of Maxwell and Ostrom's pack-hunting theory. Even if groups of dinosaurs did hunt together from time to time, that doesn't mean they were in any way organised; perhaps groups of predatory dinosaurs would simply mob a target in the same way that sharks and Komodo dragons are sometimes known to do. (Roach and Brinkman, 2007).

So, we don't really know much about non-avian dinosaurs' cognitive abilities. But even if we had a dinosaur with the level of intelligence required to create tools and form complex social structures, that wouldn't be enough to build a civilisation. In order to handle tools, significant alterations to the musculoskeletal structure of the theropod forelimb and manus would be required to grant our intelligent dinosaurs the ability to grasp things (meaning opposable thumbs) and to afford the degree of manoeuvrability in the forearm we possess, which is generally agreed to have arisen as an adaptation to arboreal living in primates. The good news is, there were dinosaurs that probably lived in trees. The bad news is, they were small, feathered dinosaurs like Microraptor (which also possessed the ability to glide from branch to branch or even fly short distances, depending on who you believe), so any civilisation-building descendant would probably have ended up looking more like a hyper-intelligent bird than the classic theropod dinosaur with scales, claws and teeth. It certainly wouldn't have looked like the anthropomorophic "dinosauroid" dreamt up by Dale Russell in the 1980s- a theoretical descendant of the dinosaur Stenonychosaurus with a decidedly human-like body-plan. Such a thing is highly unlikely as the basic theropod body-plan remained relatively conservative throughout dinosaur evolution, with good reason- it was a highly successful design, and in fact theropod dinosaurs were better adapted to bipedality than we are, which is why we tend to suffer from so many back problems.

To conclude, dinosaurs were and continue to be a highly successful clade of animals, and the living dinosaurs are amongst the most intelligent animals known. It's not really inconceivable that a civilisation-building species of dinosaur might have eventually arisen, had the majority of dinosaurs not gone extinct, but it would probably have been quite unlikely. Our own civilisation is something of a fluke. There's certainly no evidence that the "early signs of civilisation" were present in any dinosaur species at the mass extinction. Still, dinosaurs might yet manage to build that civilisation- we're probably not going to be here forever, and those magpies are certainly planning something.

  • Bekoff, M. (2009). "Animal emotions, wild justice and why they matter: Grieving magpies, a pissy baboon, and empathic elephants". Emotion, Space and Society, Vol. 2 (2), pp. 82-85.
  • Jin, M. et al. (2006). "A Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China." Nature, Vol. 444, pp. 889–893.
  • Larsson, H.C.E. (2001). "Endocranial anatomy of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus (Theropoda: Allosauroidea) and its implications for theropod brain evolution." In: Tanke, D.H. et al., eds. Mesozoic Vertebrate Life. Indiana University Press.
  • Li, R. et al. (2007). "Behavioral and faunal implications of Early Cretaceous deinonychosaur trackways from China." Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 95 (3), pp.185–191.
  • Marzluff et al. (2010). "Lasting recognition of threatening people by wild American crows." Animal Behaviour, Vol. 79 (3), pp. 699-707.
  • Maxwell, W. D. and Ostrom, J.H. (1995). "Taphonomy and paleobiological implications of Tenontosaurus–Deinonychus associations". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Vol. 15 (4), pp. 707–712.
  • Prior, H. et al. (2008). "Mirror-induced behavior in the magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of self-recognition." PLoS Biology, Vol. 6 (8).
  • Roach, B.T. and Brinkman, D.L. (2007). "A reevaluation of cooperative pack hunting and gregariousness in Deinonychus antirrhopus and other nonavian theropod dinosaurs". Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Vol. 48 (1): pp. 103–138.
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Postby Infected Mushroom » Thu Jul 29, 2021 5:18 am

Based on my very limited understanding of science, I don't see why not.

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Postby Ifreann » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:16 am

Xerographica wrote:If dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out, would any of them have evolved to our level of intelligence? In order to answer this question we first need to understand how we got smart.

Physically speaking, we aren't the best at running, or swimming, or flying. But we are the best at doing one thing...moving resources. Sure, a lion can move a much bigger piece of meat than we can, but it can't also move its cub at the same time. We, on the other hand, can simultaneously carry offspring, food, weapons and other tools.

Our bodies are the most resourceful, and our brains are the smartest. Is this a coincidence? Nope. Deciding what to carry really isn't easy. The more water you carry, the less offspring, food, and weapons and tools you'll be able to carry. Correctly figuring out the optimal combination of resources requires brainpower. Our ancestors with the most brainpower made better carrying decisions, and as a result they exerted greater influence on the gene pool. Voila, here we are.

Admittedly there are other theories regarding the causes of human intelligence, but they are all clearly incorrect.

I feel like you are being wrong on purpose for some reason.
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Postby Dogmeat » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:18 am

Oh look, it's another "Xero tries to make a point by misunderstanding science and biology" thread.
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Postby Tremulo » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:21 am

Dogmeat wrote:Oh look, it's another "Xero tries to make a point by misunderstanding science and biology" thread.

Is this a consistent thing?
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Postby Forsher » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:30 am

Tremulo wrote:
Dogmeat wrote:Oh look, it's another "Xero tries to make a point by misunderstanding science and biology" thread.

Is this a consistent thing?


Yes.

Usually it's bees.
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Postby Heloin » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:42 am

Xerographica wrote:Physically speaking, we aren't the best at running, or swimming,

Humans are both incredibly efficient runners and a shockingly good at swimming. Long distance running is one of the things humans are generally better at then most other creatures on earth.
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Postby Tremulo » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:45 am

Forsher wrote:
Tremulo wrote:Is this a consistent thing?


Yes.

Usually it's bees.

Somebody's gotta help this poor guy out. lol
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Postby Senkaku » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:00 am

inventing my own evobio and banging on about superintelligent velociraptors rather than considering people on the internet don't want to hear my convoluted analogies between casually misunderstood science to my obscure and ridiculous personal ideology
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Postby Neutraligon » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:06 am

Since birds are dinosaurs...we actually have an answer to this.
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Postby Ifreann » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:06 am

Heloin wrote:
Xerographica wrote:Physically speaking, we aren't the best at running, or swimming,

Humans are both incredibly efficient runners and a shockingly good at swimming. Long distance running is one of the things humans are generally better at then most other creatures on earth.

Humans, before we invented clever things like guns, were endurance hunters. The tasty animals we wanted to eat were faster than us, but when they tired and had to stop, we'd still be chasing them, until finally they couldn't run any more.

Basically, we were Michael Myers to all the other animals.
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Postby San Lumen » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:13 am

Given 65 million more years to evolve I don’t see why not.

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Postby Kerwa » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:17 am

According to Dr Who this definitely happened. And now they are living in big caves deep underground or some shit. David Icke postulates something similar, but in his case the super intelligent reptiles evolved on another planet then came to earth.

Both versions are complete plausible.

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Postby Ifreann » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:26 am

San Lumen wrote:Given 65 million more years to evolve I don’t see why not.

All life on Earth has been evolving for the same amount of time.
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Postby Wormfodder Delivery » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:30 am

Ifreann wrote:
Heloin wrote:Humans are both incredibly efficient runners and a shockingly good at swimming. Long distance running is one of the things humans are generally better at then most other creatures on earth.

Humans, before we invented clever things like guns, were endurance hunters. The tasty animals we wanted to eat were faster than us, but when they tired and had to stop, we'd still be chasing them, until finally they couldn't run any more.

Basically, we were Michael Myers to all the other animals.

And Humans honestly got broken once we developed our second animal super power, launching. Humans really removed most megafauna from existance, once they discovered throwing spears.
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Ethel mermania
Post Kaiser
 
Posts: 116695
Founded: Aug 20, 2010
Father Knows Best State

Postby Ethel mermania » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:42 am

Heloin wrote:
Xerographica wrote:Physically speaking, we aren't the best at running, or swimming,

Humans are both incredibly efficient runners and a shockingly good at swimming. Long distance running is one of the things humans are generally better at then most other creatures on earth.

Ducks win, they can walk, they can swim, they can fly. Take that Darwin
The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion … but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.

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Tremulo
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Founded: Feb 02, 2021
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Tremulo » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:49 am

Just looked at what he linked....

Did you even read through the Wikipedia article? A combination of all those theories is probably correct.
And of all the dinosaurs you picked to be potentially intelligent, you went with Deinocheirus? Deinocheirus is unique, but it definitely wasn't very highly intelligent. Again, I'm getting the impression you didn't read the article.
I don't want to come off as hostile, but its clear that you have a severe misunderstanding of biology and paleontology.
Last edited by Tremulo on Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Galloism
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Founded: Aug 20, 2005
Father Knows Best State

Postby Galloism » Thu Jul 29, 2021 8:51 am

Tremulo wrote:Just looked at what he linked....

Did you even read through the Wikipedia article? A combination of all those theories is probably correct.
And of all the dinosaurs you picked to be potentially intelligent, you went with Deinocheirus? Deinocheirus is unique, but it defiantly wasn't very highly intelligent. Again, I'm getting the impression you didn't read the article.
I don't want to come off as hostile, but its clear that you have a severe misunderstanding of biology and paleontology.

<Adds paleontology to the list>
Venicilian: wow. Jesus hung around with everyone. boys, girls, rich, poor(mostly), sick, healthy, etc. in fact, i bet he even went up to gay people and tried to heal them so they would be straight.
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