Re: Intelligent Dinosaur Paleo Civilization?

Barry Mennen (
15 Jun 1995 13:12:13 GMT

In <3rmq6n$>
(Ethan Vishniac) writes:
>brian hval <74641.2061@CompuServe.COM> wrote:
>>Considering the short time span it has taken mankind to develop
>>civilization, perhaps in the long history of earth it has happened
>>before, maybe more than once and perhaps to more than one
>>intelligent species.
>Let me take a shot at this.
>First, stone tools are a *lot* more common than any kind of skeletal
>remains. Moreover, they tend to be quite distinctive (except, by
>definition, very crude tools that may, or may not, have been used
>at the dawn of technological culture).
>Second, our current high tech society has mined out numerous mineral
>deposits, to the point where ores containing several percent of the
>desired material are now gone. Many of these deposits go back
>hundreds of millions of years, or more. Our successors will have
>to make do with much more dilute concentrations. No one with our
>passion for metal working has been around before us, including
>any hypothetical (extremely) ancient human civilization.
>Finally, it's easy to imagine that we've missed a species of dinosaur
>in the fossil record, in fact, it's inconceivable that we have
>samples of every one that existed. However, I tend to think that
>the ability to construct a technological civilization requires
>a minimum amount of gray matter, more than the average mammal.
>(Consider this comment amended to reflect brain mass divided by
>surface area, or whatever your favorite statistic is.) If there
>was a species of dinosaur that had the requisite smarts, then we're
>not only missing specimens of that species, but specimens of that
>genus and family as well. I think this is less clear than the
>first two points, but I thought it was worth adding.
>"Quis tamen tale studium, quo ad primam omnium rerum causam evehimur,
>tamquam inutile aut contemnendum detractare ac deprimere
>Ethan T. Vishniac
>Dept. of Astronomy also Associate Professor of Astrophysiology
>The University of Texas G.G. Simpson Hereditable Chair of
>Austin, Texas, 78712 University of Ediacara
> `Knowledge, Wisdom, Beer'

Why oh why do anthropologists continue to refer to all stone fossil
artifacts as "tools"? Would we refer to knives, guns, spears, &etc. as
"tools"? IMHO it would appear as a more honest take on all this to (at
least) _occassionally_ say "tools and weapons."

After all, extinct hominids weren't only skinning prey or paneling the
basement ALL of the time.

"A jaundiced eye gathers no moss"

Warm regards to all

Barry Mennnen