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Extinction of the Dinosaurs | Flying Dinosaurs
Intelligence  | Life Spans | Stegosaurus' Second Brain
The Color of Dinosaur Skin  | The Texture of Dinosaur Skin
T-Rex as Scavenger | Warm-blooded vs. Cold-blooded


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Traditionally, dinosaurs have been considered dim-witted creatures, but recent thought is more generous. Evidence suggests that sauropods, which do have rather small brains compared to their bulk, lived in herds and cared for their young. This implies a level of intelligence greater than that of most modern reptiles. Theropods have been found to have relatively large brains with specialized structures, and this argues that they were intelligent in the way that wolves and lions are intelligent.

We must be careful, however, in comparing dinosaurs with wolves and lions, which are mammals, unrelated to dinosaurs. The closest living relatives of dinosaurs are birds. It may be more accurate to think of dinosaur intelligence in terms of birds.

Several of the "ostrich" dinosaurs -- Troödon, Saurornithoides, and Dromiceiomimus -- from the Cretaceous Period had a good ratio of brain weight to body weight. Their widely-spaced eyes, which implies stereoscopic vision, would have given them the ability to judge distances accurately. They may have been the most intelligent of the dinosaurs, at least as intelligent as the Emu.

From an evolutionary standpoint, however, intelligence may be over-rated. It is dear to us humans, but we need to recognize that even the dinosaur species with the smallest of brains managed to live and thrive for millions of years.

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