Were dinosaurs more intelligent than modern reptiles?

Aug 2013
956
Italy
Many people tend to think of dinosaurs as huge, lumbering brutes, with pea-sized brains and hardly an iota of reasoning power. Yet, considering the highly dangerous, competitive world in which dinosaurs roamed, it would seem logical that they needed a strong dose of intelligence and decision-making ability (beyond mere instinct) which would enable them to survive and thrive. The theory that many species of predatory dinos hunted in packs suggests that they must have possessed skills of communication, coordination and leadership.

Personally I suspect that the theropods, at least, were considerably brainier than modern reptiles. The cynodonts and other mammal-like reptiles must have been relatively intelligent, too. And Troodon, that charming huge-eyed fellow, has even come to symbolize the "clever dinosaur" per excellence.

Who knows what rational thoughts might have gone through the minds of Troodon and company?
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
35,369
T'Republic of Yorkshire
They still weren't smart enough to build an anti-asteroid defensive shield.
 
Aug 2013
956
Italy
They still weren't smart enough to build an anti-asteroid defensive shield.
Lack of scientific imagination on their part.

Or maybe, like the Gauls, they might have thought that asteroids were just pieces of the sky falling down on them. Humdrum daily occurences...
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
Very good topic. Short answer, some of them were and some were not. But I'll get back to this later.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
Who knows what rational thoughts might have gone through the minds of Troodon and company?
On the reptile EQ scale, comparing Troodon to a crocodile, the base level of reptile EQ, is like comparing a dolphin to a cat. On the mammalian scale, Troodon is as smart as a rabbit. But as we now know that the avian IQ is greatly underestimated, maybe by 100%, if the internal structures of Troodon's brain were more avian that reptilian, highly likely, then it may have been as intelligent as a cat, but there is a huge caveat with that.
 
Aug 2013
956
Italy
On the reptile EQ scale, comparing Troodon to a crocodile, the base level of reptile EQ, is like comparing a dolphin to a cat. On the mammalian scale, Troodon is as smart as a rabbit. But as we now know that the avian IQ is greatly underestimated, maybe by 100%, if the internal structures of Troodon's brain were more avian that reptilian, highly likely, then it may have been as intelligent as a cat, but there is a huge caveat with that.
The intelligence of most birds and mammals has sadly been underestimated. Ah, if only they could talk to us in words, we would realize that. As it is, marvellous experiments have proven that, in numerous cases, parrots, dolphins and chimpanzees can comprehend our language (sign-language, too) and even many of our concepts. The famous parrot Alex, for example, was taught not only to repeat words but also to respond to questions in a logical manner. When asked to identify a pair of blue gloves...which he had never seen before...he replied verbally by linking together two words he already understood: "Blue leather". Thus, he understood colour distinction and also recognized that those gloves were made of leather.

The equally renowned chimp Washoe learned to answer questions adressed to her in sign language. Her responses, although simple, always made perfect sense.

I wonder if the more intelligent dinosaurs, such as Troodon and company, might have been capable of such communication...It's an intriguing possibility.
 
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Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
Massively underestimated. Partly due to lack of knowledge, partly a very long standing belief that we humans are radically different to all other life, when we are not.

There is also a lot of misinformation out there, either intentional or not. For instance we often see it mentioned that even the smartest dinosaurs were only as intelligent as an opossum. This is straight out wrong. An opossum has an EQ of 0.2, this is the same, converted to the mammalian scale, as a hadrosaur, which has never been called the smartest dinosaur. A hadrosaur, on the reptile scale, is the corvid of the reptile world in brains, not too bad really.

If not compared to opossums, then a comparison to ratites is made on the unproven basis that ratites are stupid. They have an average EQ of 0.4, the same as rats, which are certainly not considered stupid.

Without being too serious about this, it is almost like a "species-ism" [I made that up], between us and all other mammals, and then between mammals and birds and all other reptiles.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
I found this. It compares the modern dinosaur brain to the mammalian brain. It makes no concessions to EQ, so for the sake of argument imagine that the reptile brain will be half the size of the dinosaur brain and, on the scale used, have so few neurons that to put just one red, green and yellow mark would be grossly overstating their capacity. A modern bird, any corvid or parrot, if it had a mammalian brain, to keep it's level of intelligence would probably need a brain physically at least as big as the entire bird, and would weigh more than the bird. It would not be able to move and would be crushed under the weight of it's brain.