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Intelligent reptilian life forms on earth?

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 03:47 PM

If the dinosaurs had not become extinct, would some of their species have evolved into intelligent beings?

I have little knowledge of evolution, but a recent History channel program suggested that the dinosaurs were doomed by a variety of factors: the continental drift northward (causing temperature drops), worldwide volcanic eruptions poisoning the air, and finally a massive asteroid collision 65 million years ago. The program further suggested the possibility that had the dinosaurs survived all of this, some of them might have evolved into intelligent, two-legged beings, and would have continued their domination of the earth.

Is there a book, or a study of some kind, in regard to this theory? :question:

(Yes, I keep thinking of Capt. Kirk fighting the reptilian Gorn.)

#2 Pess

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 04:13 PM

Hard to say. For example, modern Monitor Lizards are actually near the intelligence of dogs and cats.

But being able to regulate your internal temperature irrespective of the external environment is a pretty good adaptive advantage.

But whose to say man is that intelligent? I slave away at a ten hour a day job while my mutt gets three squares and a soft leather couch to sleep on... and all the leather shoes she can knaw.

Pesse (My Dawg dropped out of Obedience school 'cause she figured she'd never use that stuff in the real world.) Mist

#3 Shadowalker

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 05:14 PM

Harry Harrison's West of Eden is a fine novel exploring what might have happened had evolution taken a somewhat different course.

#4 MikeBOKC

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 08:41 PM

Natural selection favors and replicates traits that are adaptive for survival of the gene pool. Intelligence is one of many possible such adaptions, as is evidenced by dogs, dolphins, some birds and a number of other species, especially the primates. Generally it seems most adaptive for species that live in social groups or have lots of interaction with one another. Hence it is logical that had the dinosaurs lasted, some of them would have evolved some levels of intelligence. In fact, they did; birds are direct descendants of avian dinosaurs. A number of bird species have very elaborate nesting and courtship behaviors that point in the direction of some level of intelligence.

One test of this might be snakes, which have changed little in tens of millions of years. Most species are pretty much the same, just eating machines with nothing we could even generously call intelligence. But one species, the Asian king cobra, Ophiophagus hannah, has evolved certain traits that make it markedly different from most other snakes. It is the only known snake species that guards its nest until the eggs hatch, and in captivity king cobras are well known for learning to recognize their keepers and to respond predictably to certain routines that indicate feeding time. Yes it's a stretch to equate that with intelligence, but it could well be the glimmer of a beginning in that direction.

You might google Robert Bakker to see if he has published anything speculating on dinosaur intelligence. He was one of the early originators of the warm-blooded dinosuar hypothesis that is now pretty well proven, and one of the more advanced thinkers in dinosaur research.

A most fascinating subject . . . as with everything else pertaining to evolution, it is likely that we just drew the lucky card re intelligence, that evolution in that direction coincided and was driven by such other adaptions as the opposable thumb, upright posture, living in social groups and speech.

#5 Glassthrower

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 11:27 PM

Intelligent reptilians exist on Earth, they are called "politicians". ;)

#6 Mike Casey

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 11:44 PM

Intelligence is the ability to swim.

#7 dickbill

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 11:14 AM

Dinos fossils, some bipedal, were found in Australia and Antarctica, at a time the climate was warmer but still not a jungle. That might have been the birth place of reptile inetlligence rather than Africa for primates.

Here is a quote from wikipedia describing the environment for Antarctopelta:
" Although Antarctica in the Cretaceous was in the southern polar region, the Earth had a much warmer climate during this time period, and the continent would have been ice-free. Animals like Antarctopelta oliveroi would have lived in forests of conifers and even deciduous trees. Despite the higher temperatures, darkness would still have descended for the winter, just as it does today at high latitudes..."
http://en.wikipedia....i/Antarctopelta

#8 Skip

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 11:44 AM

But whose to say man is that intelligent? I slave away at a ten hour a day job while my mutt gets three squares and a soft leather couch to sleep on... and all the leather shoes she can knaw.


Yup, either that or dogs are way beyond us in intelligence.

Case in point: My German Shepard, Rosie, lives in a 2000 square foot air conditioned "dog" house and sleeps on a queen sized bed. She comes to me in the morning and evening to tell me to feed her (which I promptly do), she wakes me in the middle of the night to tell me she wants to go out (which I do, even to the point of waiting up for about 15 minutes so she can come in and go back to bed), she comes and tells my wife when she wants to go for a walk, she tells me when she wants to go for a ride, and when I have to go where she can't go with me, she lays on the floor and mopes. At around 10:30 at night she comes to me and keeps after me until I take her out so she can relieve herself, then comes back in and heads to the bedroom - and if my wife and i stay up, say watching a movie, she gives us a look as if to say, "You guys can stay up all night watching TV if you want - I'M GOING TO BED!" She can pitch an attitude that would make a teenager look tame. She has a vocabulary that she understands of at least a couple of hundred human-spoken words, and probably a lot more, plus she understands dog and I don't!


I have worked hard all my life to be able to retire and live that kind of life! I am convinced we are not the most intelligent species on the planet! The pet dog is! :grin:

#9 lightfever

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 12:23 PM

Yup, either that or dogs are way beyond us in intelligence.

Case in point: My German Shepard, Rosie, lives in a 2000 square foot air conditioned "dog" house and sleeps on a queen sized bed. She comes to me in the morning and evening to tell me to feed her (which I promptly do), she wakes me in the middle of the night to tell me she wants to go out (which I do, even to the point of waiting up for about 15 minutes so she can come in and go back to bed), she comes and tells my wife when she wants to go for a walk, she tells me when she wants to go for a ride, and when I have to go where she can't go with me, she lays on the floor and mopes. At around 10:30 at night she comes to me and keeps after me until I take her out so she can relieve herself, then comes back in and heads to the bedroom - and if my wife and i stay up, say watching a movie, she gives us a look as if to say, "You guys can stay up all night watching TV if you want - I'M GOING TO BED!" She can pitch an attitude that would make a teenager look tame. She has a vocabulary that she understands of at least a couple of hundred human-spoken words, and probably a lot more, plus she understands dog and I don't!


I have worked hard all my life to be able to retire and live that kind of life! I am convinced we are not the most intelligent species on the planet! The pet dog is!



Nah, it has more to do with luck than any intelligence. If we enjoyed hunting canines more than having them as pets it would be a different world for them!

#10 Ira

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 06:45 PM

Have you seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes?

/Ira

#11 Mike Casey

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 07:23 PM

I have worked hard all my life to be able to retire and live that kind of life! I am convinced we are not the most intelligent species on the planet! The pet dog is! :grin:


My Millie Kat (Kittiecus Katicus) would violently disagee with the heretical fiction of Canine intellegence somehow usurping the well established FACT that Cats are really who's in charge at this level of reality.

#12 llanitedave

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 12:31 AM

Dinosaurs are still with us today, embodied in their descendants the birds, which are close relatives of the legendary velociraptors.

Most birds are truly "bird brains", but a few, notably various species of parrots, as well as crows and ravens, exhibit remarkable intelligence.

The issue isn't whether "dinosaurs" would have evolved intelligence, any more than whether "birds" evolved intelligence, or "mammals". None of these groups evolved intelligence as a group, but certain lineages within any group can evolve intelligence if their social and environmental circumstances make it advantageous to do so.

My own readings have led me to doubt the "dinosaurs were doomed regardless" idea. They were no more doomed than mammals are -- evolution can lead to chaotic and somewhat unpredictable results, even in the absence of asteroid impacts. Pterosaurs were not dinosaurs, but are often lumped with them, and they were well on the road to general extinction, as birds were steadily encroaching into their niches even before the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs. Other famous reptilians, such as ichthyosaurs, had already long since gone extinct. The true giants, the sauropods, were well past the peak of their dominance, and their diversity and range were already much reduced at the moment of impact. However, other groups, notably the ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs), the hadrosaurs, the giant predatory tyrannosaurids, and many other groups were still extremely numerous, widespread and diverse up until the moment of asteroid impact. There's even evidence that a few relict populations of hadrosaurs (which make up the group known as the duck-billed dinosaurs) may have persisted for as much as a million years after the K-T extinction, at least in parts of New Mexico.

The point is that while extinction is inevitable, the form and timing of extinction never is. Sixty five million years ago, in the aftermath of the K-T impact, there was no guarantee that mammals would become the dominant large animals, or that dinosaurs would not recover in some fashion, or that crocodilians, or birds, or lizards would not become the inheritors of the dinosaurs mantle. And there was no guarantee that primates or any other group would give rise to an intelligent, techno-cultural species. It could have just as easily, I suspect, have been any of the others -- although the lack of manipulating appendages does put birds and snakes at a disadvantage as far as technology goes. It could also have been none at all. There's no ecological or evolutionary necessity for intelligent species to exist in any event. The directions and patterns that evolution can take are bewilderingly complex, and had no species evolved intelligence, chances are some or several species would have appeared that had extraordinary traits that we intelligent beings can scarcely imagine.

#13 Pess

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:11 PM

I have worked hard all my life to be able to retire and live that kind of life! I am convinced we are not the most intelligent species on the planet! The pet dog is!


I use to spell things in front of my mutt Hanna. Now I am convinced she has learned to spell...or at least recognize what W--A--L--K and C-A-R mean.

Pesse (Those signing gorillas have nothing on a bored doggie) Mist

#14 Pess

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:28 PM

There's no ecological or evolutionary necessity for intelligent species to exist in any event.


While there is no 'necessity' for intelligence emergence there certainly is compelling pressures for it to do so.

Exploitation of the full potential of grasping appendages requires intelligence.

At least, so far, mans intellect has exploited his tool using abilities to the extent that he can adapt HIS environment to suit himself instead of the other way around.

I would say that is a pretty compelling argument for the natural selection of traits that expand intelligence.

My gut feeling is that intelligence will inevitably be emergent as long as species are (more or less) allowed to their own devices.

We have astounding variability in available traits with relatively tiny variations in the genome. For example, humans and cats share 90% of homologous genes (dogs about 82% if you are keeping track).

It is like the entire possible genome of Earth resides in an encyclopedia set with some species missing a volume here and there and the rest just waiting to be read.

Spooky in that context eh?

Disclaimer: No cats were vivisected during research for this article....

Pesse (...she was just too fast to catch..) Mist

#15 sirchz

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:35 PM

Didn't the Hitchhikers Guide make the case for mice being hte most intelligent species on Earth?

#16 Pess

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:45 PM

Didn't the Hitchhikers Guide make the case for mice being hte most intelligent species on Earth?


I believe it did.

But one must define exactly what constitutes 'success' from an evolutionary point of view.

If one just considers population numbers without context then, by several orders of magnitude, the common Beetle wins hands down!

Pesse (Volkswagen is sooo happy!) Mist

#17 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:57 PM

At least, so far, mans intellect has exploited his tool using abilities to the extent that he can adapt HIS environment to suit himself instead of the other way around.


I've read that cockroaches have been around, in the same form, for millions of years. I guess they adapted very quickly to their "environment" and didn't see the need to evolve any further, being perfectly content.

PS: Thanks for all the feedback on this wide topic!

#18 llanitedave

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:42 AM

There's no ecological or evolutionary necessity for intelligent species to exist in any event.


While there is no 'necessity' for intelligence emergence there certainly is compelling pressures for it to do so.


Whether or not there are pressures for increases in intelligence really depends on the species, its individual potential, and its selective environment. Intelligence is but one of many potentially advantageous traits, but like other traits, it has its drawbacks as well. Large brains are extremely energy-intensive, and require a rich abundant diet and a high metabolism. Not all lifestyles and environments can sustain such demands, and if a species can get by on a limited repertoire of hard-wired decision modes, the selection pressure for those is likely to be greater than that for the intelligence to solve problems that might be irrelevant to individual survival or reproductive success. Intelligence in the sense of creative problem-solving and the ability to model abstract concepts has arisen probably less than a dozen times out of all the millions of species that have ever existed on Earth. Is it inevitable on other living planets? Given enough time, it's possible, but its too soon for me to assume that it's inevitable.

Exploitation of the full potential of grasping appendages requires intelligence.


True in the abstract, perhaps, but the vast majority of species with grasping appendages display no special intelligence, and the "potential" of those appendages is pretty much optimized for the niche that they are filling at the moment. And on the other side of the spectrum, the group with arguably the highest intelligence apart from humans, the cetaceans, have no grasping ability at all. Grasping appendages combined with intelligence may be necessary for the development of technology, but the two traits have so far developed independently of one another without much in the way of mutual feedback, except in one lucky and seemingly unlikely lineage.

At least, so far, mans intellect has exploited his tool using abilities to the extent that he can adapt HIS environment to suit himself instead of the other way around.

I would say that is a pretty compelling argument for the natural selection of traits that expand intelligence.


It took 4.5 billion years for it to happen here, and appears to have only happened once, in a kind of "perfect storm" of evolutionary traits that could just as easily evolved in other directions -- and did, in the case of our closest cousins. Technology on Earth is a singularity as far as evolutionary history goes, and that doesn't strike me as a compelling argument that it will be ubiquitous among living planets. Given the number of possible attempts, I'm reasonably certain that we aren't the only technological species in the galaxy, but on any given planet taken alone, no matter how verdant, I'd be surprised to encounter it.

My gut feeling is that intelligence will inevitably be emergent as long as species are (more or less) allowed to their own devices.


It's a matter of scale, I think, as I opined above (and all I'm doing is opining, of course. I actually have no idea what I'm talking about!). Taking the galaxy as a whole, I do think the emergence of technological intelligence elsewhere, at some place and time, is likely. In any single biosphere, I don't think it would be likely at all.

We have astounding variability in available traits with relatively tiny variations in the genome. For example, humans and cats share 90% of homologous genes (dogs about 82% if you are keeping track).

It is like the entire possible genome of Earth resides in an encyclopedia set with some species missing a volume here and there and the rest just waiting to be read.

Spooky in that context eh?

Disclaimer: No cats were vivisected during research for this article....

Pesse (...she was just too fast to catch..) Mist


It is spooky -- but we're missing a lot more than a volume if we count all the un-realized potential of DNA. There literally is an infinity of possible traits that can be coded for: Even flying, fire-breathing dragons aren't out of the question genetically, if the physical environment and evolutionary history converge just right. Some traits, however, are definitely more likely than others, and every new trait that does appear is constrained in large degree by the history of the genetic and morphological permutations that preceded it. We tend to fixate on technological intelligence, because that's what we can relate to, but there are bound to be physical and behavioral traits adapted by species on other worlds that we can't even begin to imagine.

As I've said before, I'd absolutely love to encounter intelligent "advanced" civilized species during our explorations of other worlds, but I'd be just as happy discovering some other completely unexpected lifestyles that make our own biological diversity appear monotonous by comparison.

#19 Pess

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:09 AM

with arguably the highest intelligence apart from humans, the cetaceans


as an aside, I would argue that the cetacean are not all that smart. I think their abilities have been amplified by their 'cute' quotient.

Brain size is overrated. It is brain 'complexity' that is the telltale. We can make CPU with transistor densities way over neuron densities in a human brain but they are not self-aware because they lack the intricate interconnections a neural network possess. Also there appears to be additional logic instructions available to neural nets that a hard wired transistor based system has yet to emulate.

Pesse (I'd type more but I scrambled my instruction set a bit last night with some vino) Mist

#20 ColoHank

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

Well, what about the trilobites? Isn't it obvious that they were whizzes when it came to abstract reasoning? :question:

#21 llanitedave

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 01:07 PM

Dolphin brains are pretty convoluted, similar in size and complexity to human brains. Not, obviously, in organization, since their world imposes totally different demands. I've read some claims that they're at about the same level as dogs, I've read others that put them right up there with chimps. I'm pretty sure they're smarter than a fish, some of which are smarter than some people I've known...

#22 Pess

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 03:09 PM

Dolphin brains are pretty convoluted, similar in size and complexity to human brains. Not, obviously, in organization, since their world imposes totally different demands. I've read some claims that they're at about the same level as dogs, I've read others that put them right up there with chimps. I'm pretty sure they're smarter than a fish, some of which are smarter than some people I've known...


Dolphin brains markedly depart from primates in that their frontal lobes are small and lack complexity in regard to the number and depth of their cortical layers (termed lamination's).

It is thought that advanced cognitive thought arises in the frontal lobes of primates.

However, there is a caveat in that dolphin parietal and temporal lobes are extremely large (compared to primates) and some cognitive function might reside there since there has been divergent evolution for about 80 million years since primates & dolphins shared a common ancestor (if memory serves).

Of course, echo location in a submarine environment is highly processor-dependant--more so than in air (bats) due to the fact that sound travels so much faster in a water medium.

We use the parietal & temporal lobes for hearing and speech so it makes sense that dolphins would need all the computing power of these areas they can get...so how much is left over for basic cognition?

Pigs, dogs, dolphins all are very intelligent at being Pigs, dogs, dolphins. They fill their niches much better than we can fill them. But because of our adaptive advantage we can CHANGE their environment to be perfect for us.

Perhaps a changing environment is necessary to create evolutionary pressure for intelligence to emerge. Certainly rampant volcanism, asteroid impacts, climate changes etc favored mammals who could alter the environment around them through problem solving as unfamiliar circumstances presented themselves where hard wired solutions would fail?

Oceans are remarkably static when compared to terrestrial niches. Perhaps Dolphins were all they needed to be....

Pesse (Primates, we are told, need to join the army to be all they can be....) Mist

#23 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 03:31 PM

At least, so far, mans intellect has exploited his tool using abilities to the extent that he can adapt HIS environment to suit himself instead of the other way around.


I've read that cockroaches have been around, in the same form, for millions of years. I guess they adapted very quickly to their "environment" and didn't see the need to evolve any further, being perfectly content.

PS: Thanks for all the feedback on this wide topic!


Without light and water, these extremophiles shouldn't evolve at all. In fact, they shouldn't even exist, but they somehow live on minerals in the rocks of places like Carlsbad Caverns:
http://www.huffingto...h_b_275037.html

#24 Pess

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 09:22 AM

Without light and water, these extremophiles shouldn't evolve at all. In fact, they shouldn't even exist, but they somehow live on minerals in the rocks of places like Carlsbad Caverns:


Overheard at a Hot Springs bar, "You know those humans walking around can actually LIVE at extreme cold temperatures! Some have been observed in zero degree environments!"

Pesse (It's all relative) Mist

#25 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:36 AM


Without light and water, these extremophiles shouldn't evolve at all. In fact, they shouldn't even exist, but they somehow live on minerals in the rocks of places like Carlsbad Caverns:


Overheard at a Hot Springs bar, "You know those humans walking around can actually LIVE at extreme cold temperatures! Some have been observed in zero degree environments!"

Pesse (It's all relative) Mist

Yes, it is relative sometimes, but I always thought water was necessary for life. I guess nobody told that to these extremophiles. :lol:






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