Why didn’t these dinosaurs of Alberta-Mongolia continue to evolve ever larger cerebral systems? Why didn’t they eventually produce super-intelligent species capable of making stone tools, smelting iron ore, programming computers, or writing master’s theses about Dino-Proust? Dale Russell believes they could have if the dinosaurs had been given longer to live. (Animatronic Dinosaur)Unfortunately, the larger-brained dinosaurs were among the last, and the merciless hand of extinction fell upon them just as it fell on all the Late Cretaceous groups.
But Russell has indulged in a bit of “what-if” paleontology.
What if the Cretaceous extinctions hadn’t wiped out the dinosaurs? What if the Alberta bigbrain had continued to evolve? Russell has reconstructed the final evolutionary product which he believes the large-brained dinosaurs would have produced had they survived until the present: a hundred-pound biped with bulging forehead, scaly skin, and clawed hands capable of cleverly manipulating objects. (Dinosaur Costume)One could quibble about details, but Russell is probably correct in general. Moreover, those large-brained dinosaurs were certainly clever for their time and probably hunted the ratsized mammals of the period. Russell believes, in fact, that they were the chief predators on Cretaceous mammals, and I tend to agree. As long as they existed, the mammals could not and did not evolve to any size larger than a cat. And if these dinosaurs had continued to evolve past the end of the Cretaceous, it’s a fair bet they would have continued to suppress mammal evolution. The dinosaurs would then have continued their own history of adaptive proliferation, right down to the present era.
Then how would our ecosystem be organized if Russell’s scenario had been real rather than hypothetical? You and I, dear readers, would probably be members of some tiny species, eking out a terrified living under the everpresent shadow of a dinosaurian overlord. (dinosaur factory)And this book would have been written by a super-intelligent dinosaurian—a member of the elite species that had evolved four-pound brains, invented language, and built printing presses—on the subject of his own history. If dinosaurs had evolved to write their own history, they certainly wouldn’t make the mistake of believing their Mesozoic forebears were cold-blooded.