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Dinosaur Intelligence

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Reptilia

Hello everyone,

I've been researching dinosaur intelligence, and have read about certain dinosaurs who were considered more intelligent than most others. From what I gather, even the cleverer dinosaurs were left in the dust by modern birds and mammals, yet dinosaurs were apparently very smart for reptiles...

I've read that Ankylosaurids were exceedingly unintelligent, and that Troodon were brilliant for their time. The intellect of Ornithomimus is speculated by some to have been akin to that of an ostrich, and Tyrannosaurus Rex apparently had a fairly large section of its brain specifically devoted to strategy.

I know animal intelligence (even human intelligence) is tough to measure, and I'd imagine that DINOSAUR intelligence can only be 100% more difficult. With that said, what I'm trying to ask is: How intelligent do you think dinosaurs were relative to today's birds, mammals and reptiles? How dim were massive sauropods and ankylosaurids compared to very dim modern animals? Was Troodon really just as smart as an opossum?

Obviously this requires a lot of wild speculation, but it'd still be fun to hear your thoughts. I know there are people on this forum who specialize their interests and knowledge in particular dinosaurs, so please fire away.

Thanks!

Lauren

Edited by Aerodactyl

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ynot

I think that most animals are a lot more intelligent than the humans give credit for.

This would include the dinosaurs. I would imagine that they had to have a certain level of intelligence to go through the rigors of normal life.

Still I do not see them flying a modern jet-- no matter how much training they get! :D

Tony

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Auspex

Most discussion on dinosaur intelligence is heavily biased by old stereotypes: "big-slow-stupid herbivores, and quick-cunning carnivores". These stereotypes are anthropocentric suppositions from an era when there was no depth of understanding about ecology (much less paleoecology). I conclude only that, whatever their IQ, dinosaurs as a group were enormously successful, and were thus as well adapted as they needed to be.

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LordTrilobite

Well, we'll probably never really know for sure. But scientists have made estimates of course. They measure the EQ, or Encephalization Quotient. This basically means how big the brain is compared to the body size (or body weight, I forget which). The higher the EQ, the smarter it would probably be. As far as I know Bambiraptor has the highest EQ, followed by Troodon. Generally Theropods seemed to have been the smartest dinosaurs. This is to be expected since predators are generally smarter than herbivores. I read that of the herbivores the Hadrosaurs were the smartest (possibly because they might have been highly social).

Something scientists also look at is the different sizes and shapes of parts of the brain by looking at endocasts. Tyrannosaurus rex for example had a really good sense of smell due to the overly large size of the part of the brain that was responsable for the olfactory sense. And the brain of Archaeopteryx looked a lot like the brain of a bird. Which some thing indicates that at least in terms of brain capacity, it was able to fly.

As far as I know, if you compare the brain size to animals during the time of the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs seemed to have been top of the class. But compared to today, they would probably not be that smart.

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Troodon

I don't think you can compare intelligence of dinosaurs to modern animals. Part of the evolutionary process, brains evolve and with that comes additional intelligence. Just look at the evolutionary progress man has made in a short period of time. Having said that Dinosaurs had to be intelligent for their times because they were the dominant terrestrial animal for 135 million years and were some of the most successful creatures on earth. Hey lets see how long the human species will survive.

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Reptilia

Most discussion on dinosaur intelligence is heavily biased by old stereotypes: "big-slow-stupid herbivores, and quick-cunning carnivores". These stereotypes are anthropocentric suppositions from an era when there was no depth of understanding about ecology (much less paleoecology). I conclude only that, whatever their IQ, dinosaurs as a group were enormously successful, and were thus as well adapted as they needed to be.

I had actually never heard about the big, slow, stupid herbivore stereotype until I got into fossil collecting. Many of the herbivores (especially sauropods) did seem to have pretty small heads, but I know there are countless other factors we don't know about that contributed to their success (just like you said). Dinosaurs were incredible, and it's so much fun to speculate! :)

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Auspex

How many of us as kids (Boomers, anyway), learned as fact the Stegosaurus' brain was so small, that they had a second one in their hips to control their back ends, and that T.rex was a slow, plodding tail-drager?

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jpc

A lot of these studies about dinosaur smarts are based on brain cavities. Which is fine if you are working with mammals. Mammal brain shapes are well reflected in the interior structure of the skull. In reptiles... not so much. So I see these studies as being highly speculative. Educated guesses, which as much as we can say... for now.

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ynot

Having said that Dinosaurs --they were the dominant terrestrial animal for 135 million years and were some of the most successful creatures on earth. Hey lets see how long the human species will survive.

I think that is an unfair comparison :( due to the idea that You are comparing a single species against a whole class. :zzzzscratchchin:

You could go the other way and say that primates are more successful than a t-rex was because the primates have been around longer. :thumbsu::rolleyes::rofl:

A more fair comparison would be Mammals vs. dinosaur, but they have been around about the same length of time (if You include birds.).

Nothing personal, :D I just hear that comparison to often and it gets My sense of perfectionism (one of My psychotic tics). :wacko::unsure:

Back to subject...

Where would You place an Octopus on the intelligence scale?

Tony

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Troodon

No not trying to compare the two just trying to say that intellengence evolved in humans. That evolution also existed in other animals to the point that modern species including Birds are more intelligent than they were during the dinosaur age.

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ynot

No not trying to compare the two just trying to say that intellengence evolved in humans. That evolution also existed in other animals to the point that modern species including Birds are more intelligent than they were during the dinosaur age.

No argument on that from Me.

Tony

PS I did not intend to offend!

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squali

The term intelligence is very human centric,

All other life forms rely on adaptability. :)

When we are removed from our environment, we tend to have a greater ability

to adapt by using previous experiences and interpolating outcomes.

I would suggest that all successful life possess this ability to some degree.

The Flu is smarter than me for sure. :) and cancer has us watching shiny objects.

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Canadawest

Dino's weren't too bright regardless of how intelligence is defined. What has always struck me is how stable they and their ecosystem was in the last 20 million years of their existence. Evolution is a response to necessity, opportunity, etc.

Predators need be just a bit more intelligent than their prey...or a bit faster...etc. How bright was a raptor?...probably just a bit more than whatever it was hunting.

We tend to 'want' Dino's to be special. We want them to be intelligent, social animals, warm blooded, good parents, etc. meh...perhaps they were just big moving organisms programmed more or less on instinct. I was out in the mountains this week and watching some male Elk challenging each other, the females standing around...not too much happening 'upstairs'. Mammals have much more developed brains and most are still not too bright.

Algae, lingulid brachiopods, bacteria, etc. do just fine over 500 million years never having an active thought.

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Reptilia

I was out in the mountains this week and watching some male Elk challenging each other, the females standing around...not too much happening 'upstairs'. Mammals have much more developed brains and most are still not too bright.

You don't have to go to the mountains to see a situation like that. Just find a college keg party ☺️

Edited by Aerodactyl

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Raptor Lover

How smart are domestic cats compared to other animals? I know this question doesn't pertain to dinosaurs but it will when I get this question answered haha

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Canadawest

How smart are domestic cats compared to other animals? I know this question doesn't pertain to dinosaurs but it will when I get this question answered haha

Smarter than me. I fed my cat twice today and he sat on my lap and I gave him him a massage. In return he let's me have the honour of cleaning out his litter box.

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Raptor Lover

Smarter than me. I fed my cat twice today and he sat on my lap and I gave him him a massage. In return he let's me have the honour of cleaning out his litter box.

Hahaha nice. Cats are selfish creatures sometimes haha

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Reptilia

How smart are domestic cats compared to other animals? I know this question doesn't pertain to dinosaurs but it will when I get this question answered haha

Intelligence has many different forms Cats are highly independent, solitary hunters. They typically aren't eager to please, and they live on their own terms. They don't have the social intelligence that a pack animal would. Having a herd mentality is considered a bad thing, but the ability to live in a herd or pod or pack requires reasonably developed communication skills.

With that said, what cats lack in social intelligence they make up for in complex problem solving. They must rely on themselves to survive, and use stealth to catch prey off guard. If a dog sees a squirrel, it runs directly towards it; barking all the while. If a cat sees a squirrel, it quietly stalks until it's close enough to pounce. That's pretty smart if you ask me! :)

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Raptor Lover

Intelligence has many different forms Cats are highly independent, solitary hunters. They typically aren't eager to please, and they live on their own terms. They don't have the social intelligence that a pack animal would. Having a herd mentality is considered a bad thing, but the ability to live in a herd or pod or pack requires reasonably developed communication skills.

With that said, what cats lack in social intelligence they make up for in complex problem solving. They must rely on themselves to survive, and use stealth to catch prey off guard. If a dog sees a squirrel, it runs directly towards it; barking all the while. If a cat sees a squirrel, it quietly stalks until it's close enough to pounce. That's pretty smart if you ask me! :)

Thanks! That does make a lot of sense. Based on that, could that be similar to how troodons and dromaeosaurs thought/behaved? Even if they were no smarter than an opossum, they would still be smart enough to effectively and efficiently hunt and kill prey. So if they were still alive now, they would still be pretty scary and efficient killers

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LordTrilobite

There's an interesting paper in the book Tyrannosaurid Paleobiology on Tyrannosaur brains and the relationships with birds and crocs. It's called "Relative size of brain and cerebrum in tyrannosaurid dinosaurs"

A quick search on the internet turned up a pdf of the paper. Good stuff for anyone interested in theropod brains.

http://www.oucom.ohiou.edu/dbms-witmer/Downloads/2013_Hurlburt_Ridgely_&_Witmer_tyrannosaurid_relative_brainsize.pdf

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ynot

I understand that in mammals the intelligence of a species is directly proportionate to the surface area of the brain, And the critters that are considered more intelligent have a very "wrinkled" brain.

Is there any evidence that dinosaurs had a "wrinkled" brain?

Tony

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Canadawest

Thanks! That does make a lot of sense. Based on that, could that be similar to how troodons and dromaeosaurs thought/behaved? Even if they were no smarter than an opossum, they would still be smart enough to effectively and efficiently hunt and kill prey. So if they were still alive now, they would still be pretty scary and efficient killers

I wouldn't think them at all scary or efficient today. They would be out competed by other predators. They would also have an issue trying to catch anything but insects and reptiles.

This is one of the issues with the ecology of Islands before the arrival of humans, rats, cats, goats, pigs, etc.. We placental mammals mammals overwhelm local populations.

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ynot

I wouldn't think them at all scary or efficient today. They would be out competed by other predators. They would also have an issue trying to catch anything but insects and reptiles.

This is one of the issues with the ecology of Islands before the arrival of humans, rats, cats, goats, pigs, etc.. We placental mammals mammals overwhelm local populations.

The problem with introducing an alien species into a closed environment is that there are no predators of the new species, and the prey animals/plants have no defense against them.

Why are the pythons doing so well in florida if the mammals are so much "smarter"?

Tony

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Raptor Lover

What would their issue be with catching things? I think it would be fairly easy for a deinonychus or Utahraptor to take down a cow or goat

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Raptor Lover

The problem with introducing an alien species into a closed environment is that there are no predators of the new species, and the prey animals/plants have no defense against them.

Why are the pythons doing so well in florida if the mammals are so much "smarter"?

Tony

So would it be like the Indominus Rex situation in Jurassic World haha? No predators of the new species and the new species messes up the balance with existing species?

Edited by RaptorFan4Life

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