Dinosaur Brains

Dinosaur Brains? Dinosaur Brains.

So. Childbirth. Ain’t easy, amiright?

The brain of a human infant is so large that even with some clever adaptation like squishy skulls, wide hips, and mid-birth gymnastics, the process still has a good chance of killing one or both of the participants in the absence of aid.

There are metabolic and biomechanical costs of having a large brain too, but a big reason we are only as smart as we are and our brains are only the size they are is the fact that we are viviparous.

But what if we weren’t?

Now if you’re like me, my first response is “I’m so sorry.”
But my second response is “speculative dinosaurs, yeah!”
People have talked before about the problems intelligent dinosaurs would face with their stiff hands, wrists, and shoulders. Without a lot of radical redesign, a dinosaur can’t throw a spear or fire an arrow. Using its mouth and feet as well as its hands, a dinosaur might just manage to knap flint or tie a knot and maybe with some wrist-flick atlatl-type thing…?
But a big advantage egg-laying sapients might have is that their chick’s brains might grow much larger. And what might they do with those extra smarts?
Perhaps they can form larger, more coordnated groups with more complex behavior. Imagine a hunting flock of such creatures switching between strategies in unison or even using their own positions within the flock to do calculations.

Foot-powered catapults and the sophisticated ballistics they require might be their equivalent of the bow and arrow. Bigger brains might also grant them finer control over their domestic animals, whose hands might be turned to the task of fine manipulation. A dinosaur’s claws might be too clumsy to thread a needle or sew a shirt, but what about the clever fingers of tree-dwelling mammals?

Which is, of course, what they will think of when they meet us.


In addition to the speculative biology work of Simon Roy, this Wonderful Awful Idea owes some inspiration to the real-life biology Daniel E. Lieberman discusses in his Story of the Human Body.

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