Saturday, October 27, 2012

Everyone loves smart dinosaurs

A minor industry in paleontology is speculating what dinosaurs would look like if the asteroid had missed us and the dinosaurs had continued to rule and evolve. Dale Russell and Ron Seguin started this 30 years ago by postulating a strikingly humanoid dino descendant. As Darren Naish points out, though, even the smartest dinos were around ostrich-level intelligence, and it's not certain they would have gone much further. Even if they did keep getting smarter, we know dinosaurs were evolving in the direction that produced modern birds, and there's no reason to presume a "dinosauroid" of human intelligence would look like a human, instead of like a big ground-dwelling bird, feathers, long tail, and all.  This is endlessly fascinating speculation and has spun off many a science fiction story.  We'll probably never leave the subject entirely. 

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