Re: Intelligent Dinosaur Paleo Civilization?

17 Jun 1995 14:15:30 GMT

Tom Lathrop ( wrote:
: In article <3rmq6n$>,
: Ethan Vishniac <> wrote:
: >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.

: Me too (I've actually wondered about this once in a while).

: One possibility is that they were intelligent, but their hands were
: unsuited for using any kind of tools (think T. Rex). Imagine also that
: unlike us they were physically well adapted to their environment, and
: didn't really need tools for protection or food gathering. Creatures
: such as this could have been highly intelligent and led highly
: elaborate social and cultural lives without it ever occurring to them
: fabricate the sort of objects that would survive until today.
: There are still problems though. If their intelligence made them
: highly successful then they would probably have existed in very large
: numbers for what we would see as a very long time (because if they were
: not technologically inclined it would be rather difficult for them to
: wipe themselves out).

Given the recent history of humans, I'm leaning towards the opinion that
"intelligence", "consciousness", and "civilization" are evolutionary dead
ends. Our capacity for highly organized behaviours leading to extremely
high populations and tremendous interdependence makes us vulnerable to
all sorts of disasters; it is probably inevitable that we will be nearly
wiped out as a species by disease or some kind of ecological disaster or
political and economic collapse leading to mass starvation or violent
death. Luckily, our species gene pool is quite diverse, since natural
selection is limited by our species support systems. So some humans in
isolated pockets may survive to start things anew. What bothers me most
about this scenario is the number of other species our alleged intelligence
will take with us; this process has already started. I believe Leakey's
forthcoming book _The Sixth Extinction_ will deal with this topic.

The book _Rogue Primate_ by James A. Livingston (KeyPorter Books, 1994)
(ISBN 1-55013-508-2) also develops this theme at length, and should be of
interest to anthropologists. The subtitle of the book is "An exploration
of human domestication."

Thus if intelligent species existed before our own, and their behaviour
was like ours, they may well have followed the same path to extinction
(or near-extinction) that we are following. But it is our
resource-consumption mentality and capabilities that have put us in this
postion, and surely this kind of behaviour, as has been pointed out,
would leave traces in geology, if nowhere else.

David Wasserman (
Curmudgeon-At-Large (
"The older I get, the more value I place on experience."