Hey everyone, MegaSpinosaur here with a new journal entry centering around my own theories about one of history's most successful of all ancient creatures, the dinosaurs.
As the title says, I'll be talking about one of the most controversial subjects regarding dinosaurs.
For so many years as I grew up researching dinosaurs, one thing that tended to attract my attention was people and certain television programs always downplaying the intellectual capacity of dinosaurs. One matter that really threw me for a loop was how dinosaurs were always being referred to as stupid, and I admit that such a matter is based mainly on one's perception of dinosaurs.
In my opinion, the key thing to point out is that dinosaurs were never stupid like most people think they are. What needs to be remembered is that dinosaurs were primitive animals who acted on instinct, not on smarts. Animals today often do that, including domesticated pets such as dogs and cats.
You can't judge a dinosaur's intelligence based on fossilized bones or their portrayals in modern day media, it doesn't work that way. CT scans of a dinosaur brain vaults are the only way to go about this.
What you see here is the fossilized brain vault of the Late Cretaceous theropod known as Tyrannosaurus rex. The portion on the left represents it's olfactory bulbs, which are what granted the animal it's sense of smell. The portion on the right is where the dinosaur's brain would be. Studies of this fossilized material show that Tyrannosaurus had a limited degree of intelligence, something which would help it in the long run when hunting specific prey.
But just because dinosaurs have limited intelligence, it does not mean they're stupid, it just means intelligence wasn't a major factor during the prehistoric age. Herbivorous dinosaurs themselves are no exception, sure most media portrays them as being susceptible to predation by carnivores, which is so not the case in reality. Hadrosaurs weren't as defenseless as they looked despite not having horns, claws, spikes or clubs on their tails. In fact, some notable ones such as Edmontosaurus, being big and heavy set herbivores, would have had enough intelligence to at least try defending themselves and their young against predators rather than run away at the sight of them. While there is no evidence to support this, it is possible.
The mid-sized tyrannosaur, Albertosaurus, who existed before Tyrannosaurus, was known to have preyed on Edmontosaurus, though it's most likely that it would "think" to avoid healthy adults and instead focus on hunting old, sick or young targets.
Stegosaurs have always been referred to as being stupid dinosaurs because of their small brains, but quite frankly I don't think that is the case. Sure they weren't all that smart, but they didn't need to be smart to fend off the predators they coexisted with since they had evolved to stand and fight, which is where their spiked tails, called "thagomizers", come in handy.
Sauropods are nowhere near invulnerable to being called stupid since their massive bodies and small heads betray that. True they weren't smart either, but their size gives them an edge against predators.
Ceratopsians and ankylosaurs would definitely have had enough thought in their brains to defend themselves with their naturally evolved weapons.
Bottom line, it's not about how smart a dinosaur is, it's about how they act based on their instincts.
In the case with carnivorous dinosaurs, the notable thing about them is that they, like modern predators, only need to be as smart as their prey.
One common misconception is that raptors were thought to be the smartest carnivores because of how they supposedly hunted in packs, a notion which stemmed from the portrayal of Velociraptor in the Jurassic Park franchise. In the franchise, paleontologist Alan Grant theorized Velociraptors to be as smart as dolphins to the point where they use problem solving methods. However, that's just movie logic. In real life, raptors were only as intelligent as their chosen niches had demonstrated. When alone, they hunt small mammals and reptiles because they have more access to them. Packs on the other hand, while not as tight knit as those seen in the movies, would rely on their numbers to get the drop on bigger prey.
Now with bigger predators like Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, they too also needed to be as smart as the prey they hunted. In the case with Allosaurus, it clearly had the advantage of speed when it came to chasing down certain prey items like Camptosaurus, however, it couldn't last very long and would tire out after a few minutes. Instead, ambush is the best asset that Allosaurus can think of since ambush allows it to use less energy than it would use in a chase. Group/mob hunting is also plausible when it comes to tackling prey like large sauropods, a feat which a lone individual could never pull off.
Tyrannosaurus on the other hand actually had a reason to be a smart hunter. In it's time and place, Tyrannosaurus coexisted alongside dinosaurs such as the famous Triceratops, Ankylosaurus and Edmontosaurus, along with the sauropod Alamosaurus, all of which possessed defenses that they could use to fight it off. To this end, it would need to formulate strategies that would allow it to get the better of it's prey. Ambush is a preferred method, but there could also be cases where Tyrannosaurus worked in pairs or family groups to take down their prey of choice.
Modern animals such as Lions, hyenas and wild dogs rely on the numbers of their packs to bring down large prey. Of course, comparing modern predator intelligence to that of theropod predators doesn't do wonders.
The small theropod Troodon has often been thought to be the smartest dinosaur due to it's relatively large brain. However, it's possible that Troodon could only have been as smart as modern birds rather than mammals like chimps and dolphins.
Throughout the Mesozoic, competition was a major issue for the carnivores who coexisted with one another. A prominent example of intelligence in that department is that the predators would generally avoid each other by occupying different niches. Spinosaurs restricted themselves mainly to hunting fish, while Carcharodontosaurs focused on land based prey including sauropods, thus making competition less likely.
Large tyrannosaurs in Asia and North America would mostly go unchallenged since they were apex predators of their ecosystems. For example, in between the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous, the two similar sized tyrannosaurs Gorgosaurus and Daspletosaurus were known to have coexisted, but competition was never a big issue for them since they presumably occupied separate niches. The faster and lighter Gorgosaurus would have focused on hunting hadrosaurs while the more muscular and strong Daspletosaurus would primarily have hunted tougher prey such as ceratopsians.
Similarly, in Asia, the large tyrannosaurid Tarbosaurus had coexisted with the smaller and lighter Alioramus. Intelligence-wise, Alioramus would have stayed away from Tarbosaurus, keeping itself out of direct competition by hunting smaller prey.
I'm no paleontologist, but I often tend to think like one, especially one who has more sense in wanting to piece things together before coming to conclusions, unlike the real experts. I'm not saying they can't do their jobs right, I'm just saying that they should try doing some more fossil hunting and analysis before making their assumptions.
To be clear, dinosaurs were "intelligent"
in their own ways. But since they were "primitive"
, they displayed it through "instinct"
Well, that's all for this journal. I'm sure most of this won't make any sense, I just wanted to get my opinion across.