What if dinosaurs were smarter, and other evolution "what if" questions

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Brian White
What if dinosaurs were smarter, and other evolution "what if" questions

I just read about the new caladonia crows that bend hooks on wire to retrieve food, and that have used 3 tools in sequence to grab food.  So perhaps, dinosaurs with similar brain structure were smart too.  Mammals evolved first and got outcompeted pretty badly for a very long time.  Also, the sauropod body plan, long neck,sturdy legs, long tail, etc. With convergent evolution, how come it did not repeat in mammals?  After all, in time terms, it was the most successful body plan ever for herbivores.

Humans do not seem to have been successful with the huge primate brain until very late in the day. Perhaps only

60,000 years ago, the geneticists say there were very few of us. We were fairly close to extinction. Then suddenly the penny dropped in some way and we exploded into action, spread round the world and quickly wiped out all the other advanced primates. Perhaps just one mutation in the brain of one guy or girl made the difference.

Now, if average world temp was raised 5 degrees and the O2 and CO2 levels were altered a lot, how would we compete? 35% Oxygen? Can humans survive in that?

1700 ppm CO2 might also be difficult. Will our smarts make the difference if the climate is toxic to our body plan?

 

 

Policywonk

Brian White wrote:

I just read about the new caladonia crows that bend hooks on wire to retrieve food, and that have used 3 tools in sequence to grab food.  So perhaps, dinosaurs with similar brain structure were smart too.  Mammals evolved first and got outcompeted pretty badly for a very long time.  Also, the sauropod body plan, long neck,sturdy legs, long tail, etc. With convergent evolution, how come it did not repeat in mammals?  After all, in time terms, it was the most successful body plan ever for herbivores.

Humans do not seem to have been successful with the huge primate brain until very late in the day. Perhaps only

60,000 years ago, the geneticists say there were very few of us. We were fairly close to extinction. Then suddenly the penny dropped in some way and we exploded into action, spread round the world and quickly wiped out all the other advanced primates. Perhaps just one mutation in the brain of one guy or girl made the difference.

Now, if average world temp was raised 5 degrees and the O2 and CO2 levels were altered a lot, how would we compete? 35% Oxygen? Can humans survive in that?

1700 ppm CO2 might also be difficult. Will our smarts make the difference if the climate is toxic to our body plan?

According to some scientists birds are essentially dinosaurs. The reason there weren't too many humans 70,000 years ago was likely a supervolcanic eruption of Mt. Toba in indonesia at that time killing off over 90% of the human population and leaving fewer than 10,000 people. Nothing much would survive on land in 35% oxygen as forests and grasslands would spontaneously ignite long before that. 1700 ppm CO2 wouldn't be toxic, it's just that there would be no icecaps (much higher sea level) and the climate would be much warmer. The main trouble is the speed at which carbon dioxide is increasing and possible impacts on life in the oceans, which would also affect life on land.

Brian White
  • At 1% concentration of carbon dioxide CO2 (10,000 parts per million or ppm) and under continuous exposure at that level, such as in an auditorium filled with occupants and poor fresh air ventilation, some occupants are likely to feel drowsy.
  • The concentration of carbon dioxide must be over about 2% (20,000 ppm) before most people are aware of its presence unless the odor of an associated material (auto exhaust or fermenting yeast, for instance) is present at lower concentrations.
  • Above 2%, carbon dioxide may cause a feeling of heaviness in the chest and/or more frequent and deeper respirations.
  • If exposure continues at that level for several hours, minimal "acidosis" (an acid condition of the blood) may occur but more frequently is absent.
  • Breathing rate doubles at 3% CO2 and is four times the normal rate at 5% CO2.
  • I got this stupid format when I copied and pasted. Anyways, it is clear that at 1700 ppm of CO2 LOTS of people would be having problems.
  • Here is some more!
  • The U.S. EPA CO2 exposure limits: The U.S. EPA recommends a maximum concentration of Carbon dioxide CO2 of 1000 ppm (0.1%) for continuous exposure.
  • ASHRAE standard 62-1989 recommends an indoor air ventilation standard of 20 cfm per person of outdoor air or a CO2 level which is below 1000ppm.
  • NIOSH CO2 exposure limits: NIOSH recommends a maximum concentration of carbon dioxide of 10,000 ppm or 1% (for the workplace, for a 10-hr work shift with a ceiling of 3.0% or 30,000 ppm for any 10-minute period). These are the highest threshold limit value (TLV) and permissible exposure limit (PEL) assigned to any material.
  • People need to recognise that when outdoor CO2 levels reach 0.1%, indoor levels are going to go much higher. People might have to sleep outdoors!
martin dufresne
M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Brian White wrote:

People need to recognise that when outdoor CO2 levels reach 0.1%, indoor levels are going to go much higher. People might have to sleep outdoors!

At 0.1% atmospheric carbon dioxide, that will be the least of our problems, believe me!

Papal Bull

 

EPIC FAIL.

Brian White

I am just trying for some perspective. 0.1% is not far away on the models, is it?  Because fossil fuel burning is increasing, and now they find that  methane hydrate is bubbling up lots and lots of methane all over the northern and southern oceans. (But the bubbles desolve as they come up and bacteria convert much to CO2  which means carbonic acid.   So very soon the oceans will stop absorbing our CO2 and start adding to it.

They used to wonder why the oceans are acidifying so quickly and now I think they have found the answer. Methane bubbling up and getting "eaten" by ocean bugs!

M. Spector wrote:

Brian White wrote:

People need to recognise that when outdoor CO2 levels reach 0.1%, indoor levels are going to go much higher. People might have to sleep outdoors!

At 0.1% atmospheric carbon dioxide, that will be the least of our problems, believe me!

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Other what if evolutionary quandries: What if pinnipeds had opposable digits? Might make the seal hunt more of a case of self defence, or at least a pre-emptive strike.

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

Brian White wrote:

I am just trying for some perspective. 0.1% is not far away on the models, is it?  Because fossil fuel burning is increasing, and now they find that  methane hydrate is bubbling up lots and lots of methane all over the northern and southern oceans. (But the bubbles desolve as they come up and bacteria convert much to CO2  which means carbonic acid.   So very soon the oceans will stop absorbing our CO2 and start adding to it.

They used to wonder why the oceans are acidifying so quickly and now I think they have found the answer. Methane bubbling up and getting "eaten" by ocean bugs!

M. Spector wrote:

Brian White wrote:

People need to recognise that when outdoor CO2 levels reach 0.1%, indoor levels are going to go much higher. People might have to sleep outdoors!

At 0.1% atmospheric carbon dioxide, that will be the least of our problems, believe me!

so reduce emissions and start dumping bare iron or some metal like that which increased plankton = more oxygen

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

"Dinosaur should be a term of praise, not of opprobrium. They reigned for 100 million years (over the inconsequential ratlike ancestors of mammals) and died through no fault of their own. Homo sapiens is nowhere near a million years old and has limited prospects, entirely self-imposed, for extended geological longevity." Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

fucc dinosaurs cuzz they reigned for 100 million years if they were around now and they wanted to fight we could wipe them out in less then 100 seconds. Which is good and bad depending on how you look at it and the situation.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

They've got good weed in Rexdale, eh, R_P?

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

Laughing

but really though fucc dinosaurs point I was making is that they would eat you fucc them.

 

Take other examples too Im for like balance the needs of humans and animals (cuz remember most animals living in places where humans are starving so it aint the big corp vs the poor animals) but at the same time dont forget that they dont like you lol. Likee humans over animals cuz take a monkey a monkey will try and kill you if you go on its territory so it if stepz to you blast itz ass. You know like all these other ppl are like tryna hug monkeys or put they mouths inside of tigers and then they cry after like wtf you expect cuz. Im not gonna have no monkey bite my dicc off like you ever notice how nobody from the hood does that?

 

We aint crazy like that lol that's all Im tryna say cultural differences.

 

edit - itz like a rural vs urban thing kind of because any rural ppl will know wild animals aint play things and for ppl in the hood anyway there's too many ways to die for you to want to find more lol

Fidel

Brian White wrote:
Humans do not seem to have been successful with the huge primate brain until very late in the day. Perhaps only

60,000 years ago, the geneticists say there were very few of us. We were fairly close to extinction. Then suddenly the penny dropped in some way and we exploded into action, spread round the world and quickly wiped out all the other advanced primates. Perhaps just one mutation in the brain of one guy or girl made the difference

 

Stone tools to computers and landing on the moon in 60k years! It's break-neck rate of change in evolutionary terms. [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y15NnGZIBuM]The dawn of a genetic experiment?[/url](youtube)

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Brian White wrote:

I am just trying for some perspective. 0.1% is not far away on the models, is it?

In its benchmark 2007 assessment report, the IPCC stated that the key for preventing dangerous global warming was to keep CO2 concentrations below 450 parts per million.

A 0.1% concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 1000 parts per million.

650 ppm would mean a global average temperature rise of 4 degrees, which scientists consider would be catastrophic.

 

You do the rest of the math.

Fidel

[url=http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/thermodynamino/]Humans Sharing Alien DNA a Possibility[/url] The truth is out there

Policywonk

M. Spector wrote:

Brian White wrote:

I am just trying for some perspective. 0.1% is not far away on the models, is it?

In its benchmark 2007 assessment report, the IPCC stated that the key for preventing dangerous global warming was to keep CO2 concentrations below 450 parts per million.

A 0.1% concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 1000 parts per million.

650 ppm would mean a global average temperature rise of 4 degrees, which scientists consider would be catastrophic.

 

You do the rest of the math.

The relationship of greenhouse gas concentrations to temperature is not linear. However a 4 degree temperature rise could result from a mere doubling of equivalent carbon dioxide concentrations from pre-industrial levels, or about 560 ppm. The changes of a 2 degree rise are non zero even with existing concentrations. Which is why there is a movement to reduce concentrations to 350 ppm rather than merely stabilizing them at 450 ppm.

Fidel

I think the aliens want it that way. They can survive in greenhouse conditions because theyve already adapted on their own dead planet. Theyre controlling our stooges who are administering  the process of terraforming earth for the lizard people-colonists who thrive on CO2 and warmer temps.

Policywonk

Policywonk wrote:

M. Spector wrote:

Brian White wrote:

I am just trying for some perspective. 0.1% is not far away on the models, is it?

In its benchmark 2007 assessment report, the IPCC stated that the key for preventing dangerous global warming was to keep CO2 concentrations below 450 parts per million.

A 0.1% concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 1000 parts per million.

650 ppm would mean a global average temperature rise of 4 degrees, which scientists consider would be catastrophic.

 

You do the rest of the math.

The relationship of greenhouse gas concentrations to temperature is not linear. However a 4 degree temperature rise could result from a mere doubling of equivalent carbon dioxide concentrations from pre-industrial levels, or about 560 ppm. The chances of a 2 degree rise are non zero even with existing concentrations. Which is why there is a movement to reduce concentrations to 350 ppm rather than merely stabilizing them at 450 ppm.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

You can say that again.

Policywonk

I thought I was editing (changes to chances).

Brian White

I think people are too focused on temperature.  CO2 does a lot of other things too.   Just the increase from about 280 to 380 ppm since industry started.  Every single animal on this planet and every single bacterium has a tougher time with the chemical gradient as they respire  now.  Some  cope better some worse.

It is a gigantic change at that level and it is almost as if nobody has noticed.

Fidel

I thought carbon taxes are supposed to save the world from capitalism? They dont sound very optimistic about it here or anywhere else in the world where tried. 

Policywonk

Brian White wrote:

I think people are too focused on temperature.  CO2 does a lot of other things too.   Just the increase from about 280 to 380 ppm since industry started.  Every single animal on this planet and every single bacterium has a tougher time with the chemical gradient as they respire  now.  Some  cope better some worse.

It is a gigantic change at that level and it is almost as if nobody has noticed.

increasing ocean acidity is far more of a problem than the physiological impact of increased carbon dioxide concentration, perhaps even moreso than the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Fidel

Policywonk wrote:

Brian White wrote:

I think people are too focused on temperature.  CO2 does a lot of other things too.   Just the increase from about 280 to 380 ppm since industry started.  Every single animal on this planet and every single bacterium has a tougher time with the chemical gradient as they respire  now.  Some  cope better some worse.

It is a gigantic change at that level and it is almost as if nobody has noticed.

increasing ocean acidity is far more of a problem than the physiological impact of increased carbon dioxide concentration, perhaps even moreso than the enhanced greenhouse effect.

But the problem with decreasing ocean pH is too much CO2, so it's part of the same issue, yes?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Policywonk wrote:

The relationship of greenhouse gas concentrations to temperature is not linear. However a 4 degree temperature rise could result from a mere doubling of equivalent carbon dioxide concentrations from pre-industrial levels, or about 560 ppm. The chances of a 2 degree rise are non zero even with existing concentrations. Which is why there is a movement to reduce concentrations to 350 ppm rather than merely stabilizing them at 450 ppm.

Speaking of the movement, here's a link to 350.org.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Fidel wrote:

I thought carbon taxes are supposed to save the world from capitalism?

Nope. They are supposed to save the world for capitalism.

Policywonk

Fidel wrote:

Policywonk wrote:

Brian White wrote:

I think people are too focused on temperature.  CO2 does a lot of other things too.   Just the increase from about 280 to 380 ppm since industry started.  Every single animal on this planet and every single bacterium has a tougher time with the chemical gradient as they respire  now.  Some  cope better some worse.

It is a gigantic change at that level and it is almost as if nobody has noticed.

increasing ocean acidity is far more of a problem than the physiological impact of increased carbon dioxide concentration, perhaps even moreso than the enhanced greenhouse effect.

But the problem with decreasing ocean pH is too much CO2, so it's part of the same issue, yes?

True.

Brian White

Reptiles, mammals and birds have very different brains. Bird brains are wired completely differently. Perhaps more efficiently?  We also have different excretory systems. They excrete uric acid and we pee out urea.  Their systems are probably a lot more economical with water.   With regard to to the great crimp in human numbers 70 000 years ago, "The reason there weren't too many humans 70,000 years ago was likely a supervolcanic eruption of Mt. Toba in indonesia at that time killing off over 90% of the human population and leaving fewer than 10,000 people" if great big smart heads are so great, how come a volcano erupting half a world away killed off so many people?  homonids were spread across africa, europe and asia. Perhaps the great big juicy brains were a sought after feast among the big cats, and pack dogs?  Did baboon numbers get badly lowered at the same time?

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

M. Spector wrote:

Fidel wrote:

I thought carbon taxes are supposed to save the world from capitalism?

Nope. They are supposed to save the world for capitalism.

Meanwhile, cap and trade is just capitalism.

Brian White

"increasing ocean acidity is far more of a problem than the physiological impact of increased carbon dioxide concentration, perhaps even moreso than the enhanced greenhouse effect".  Increased ocean acidity IS the physiological impact of increased carbon dioxide concentration on a grander scale.  The same thing is happening in the cells of every animal on earth.  There is about 35% more CO2 in every breath they take and that increases the aciidity in the water in  their cells.

There is a theory that when the ocean acidity goes low enough, a flip will occur and sulphur bacteria will take over the oceans. some of them  produce H2S when they respire. If they take over, we can do nothing to stop them and H2S gass is more toxic than cyanide. It may have bubbled out in the past and caused mass extinctions.

Fidel

Cueball wrote:

M. Spector wrote:

Fidel wrote:

I thought carbon taxes are supposed to save the world from capitalism?

Nope. They are supposed to save the world for capitalism.

Meanwhile, cap and trade is just capitalism.

Well there will be no fooling you two. Both capNtrade and CO2 taxes are bandaid capitalist remedies for what ails the planet. But one of the two bandaids is proven to work to stem the bleeding of another type of industrial pollutant dumped into the air at alarming rates back in the 70's and 80's, sulphur dioxide, which caused acid rain. It's still a problem but not what it once was.

The other capitalist bandaid isnt proven to work to reduce CO2 emissions anywhere in the oil and energy exporting kapitalist nations. And Canada is a significant exporter of oil, and now some really dirty fossil fuels. And Canada exports them to the most wasteful and most energy and fossil fuel dependent economy in the world, the USA.

So knowing that the western capitalist world will really only consider those two bandaid solutions for now, which one would you choose? And remember that your patient is in desperate need of intervention.

Cueball Cueball's picture

That's ok Fidel. Really.

Fidel

Well, the other alternative for socialists is to wait for the planet to die under capitalism, and then have the perfect revolution. Except things wouldnt be so perfect at that point with spaceship earth hurtling through the void on fire and passengers gagging on CO2. "CapCom this is blue marble, we have a problem, over" ...

Cueball Cueball's picture

That must be it. If it weren't for all those heady idealists out there, the world would be safe for your steadfast pragmatism.

Fidel

Uh, Houston? We don't see any carbon tax mute button up in this tin can. We're gonna need a procedure for that one. Over? ...  

Cueball Cueball's picture

Yeah, that is the pragmatism I am talking about. There. Right.

There.

Fidel

This CO2 mute button, it has been tested before, right, Houston? There's a lot of condensation on these circuit panels, and we just wanna be sure before green light go. Over?

Cueball Cueball's picture

It's been a while... but these aren't lines from an early period David Bowie song are they?

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

wtf are u 2 talking about LOL

Caissa

The West of Eden books dealt with the ideas of dinosaurs evolving to dominate humans.

http://www.amazon.com/West-Eden-Harry-Harrison/dp/0743400135

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_of_Eden

Fidel

Cueball wrote:

It's been a while... but these aren't lines from an early period David Bowie song are they?

Apollo 13, the film.

 

Marilyn Lovell: I thought they didn't care about this mission. They didn't even run Jim's show.
Henry Hurt: Well, it's more dramatic now. Suddenly people are...
Marilyn Lovell: Landing on the moon wasn't dramatic enough for them - why should NOT landing on it be?

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

"Star Trek Voyager" dealt with the original question in the thread title in an episode called "Distant Origins"

A paleontologist from an alien reptilian culture is exploring the possiblity that their civilization evolved on Earth millions of years ago.

His research work is being suppressed by the "powers that be" on his home planet.

Then of course he runs into "Voyager".

 

 

marzo

I saw that episode of "Star Trek: Voyager". It was entertaining and weird.

I would imagine that if reptiles evolved higher brain functions and intelligence it would have to be in a much warmer world. Paleontologists think that at the time of the dinosaurs there was no permafrost with dense vegetation and large animals inhabiting the polar regions. Unless these sapient dinosaurs evolved a warm -blooded physiology they could not live in a climate where the temperature dropped below freezing.

What if water-breathing animals evolved higher intelligence? Some types of octopus show learning ability and their tentacles would certainly give them the dexterity to make tools.

Papal Bull

marzo wrote:

What if water-breathing animals evolved higher intelligence? Some types of octopus show learning ability and their tentacles would certainly give them the dexterity to make tools.

 

Oh shi-...

Luckily we have atomic depth charges. We gotta take em out before they sneak up on us when we aren't looking and cut us with their coral knives.

marzo

Papal Bull wrote:

marzo wrote:

What if water-breathing animals evolved higher intelligence? Some types of octopus show learning ability and their tentacles would certainly give them the dexterity to make tools.

 

Oh shi-...

Luckily we have atomic depth charges. We gotta take em out before they sneak up on us when we aren't looking and cut us with their coral knives.

Too late. These super intelligent octopi have already invented space ships, atom bombs, time travel, the whole bit.

Papal Bull

marzo wrote:

Papal Bull wrote:

marzo wrote:

What if water-breathing animals evolved higher intelligence? Some types of octopus show learning ability and their tentacles would certainly give them the dexterity to make tools.

 

Oh shi-...

Luckily we have atomic depth charges. We gotta take em out before they sneak up on us when we aren't looking and cut us with their coral knives.

Too late. These super intelligent octopi have already invented space ships, atom bombs, time travel, the whole bit.

Terrorsquids?

Brian White

The squid will be pissed when the water gets more acidic.  I am more afraid of the many hearted hagfish myself.

Papal Bull wrote:

marzo wrote:

Papal Bull wrote:

marzo wrote:

What if water-breathing animals evolved higher intelligence? Some types of octopus show learning ability and their tentacles would certainly give them the dexterity to make tools.

 

Oh shi-...

Luckily we have atomic depth charges. We gotta take em out before they sneak up on us when we aren't looking and cut us with their coral knives.

Too late. These super intelligent octopi have already invented space ships, atom bombs, time travel, the whole bit.

Terrorsquids?

Fidel

Dinos ruled the earth for something like 180 million years, and they didnt build or invent anything. They were prolific underachievers with the world at their disposal. We come along, and inside of 50,000 years, we're threatening the existence every living thing including ourselves, inventing computers and landing on the moon. Weve never had any outward physical features to give us an advantage over other preds. No razor sharp teeth or bone crushing power in our jaws. No sharp talons at the ends of our fingers or toes. Big cats and other beasties could outrun us. Our night vision is lousy compared to other beasties. Our hearing and olfactory senses are unlikely to warn us of a bear and her cubs in the viscinity. We never developed wings or even fins. It's a miracle we survived this long.

Brian White

I disagree. We are tailless, walk on 2 legs and have 4 limbs. No other creatures have that combination.  And nature is full of niches.  You do not need to outrun a big cat if you live in a group.

As for the big brain and our method of thinking. I think there was a fluke event or mutation along the line. If it has not happened, perhaps our species might still be in parts of africa, neanderthals would still be in europe and various little hobbits would be scattered round the rest of the world. A brain for most animals is a specilized evolved computer. All mammals and birds can learn. (The crows that use sticks take up to 4 years to learn to make and use them effectively).  These live in new calidonia.  Now, think about it, what is the point of taking 4 years learning how to get a fat bug out of a rotten log in normal situations?   In normal situations, something else comes along and tears the log apart and eats the things first.  These crows got the chance cos they have a lazy life and weak claws and no competition on that island for the bugs.  We probably got the chance cos we had a life like the lazy mountain gorillas.  Normal evolutionary pressure on a big brain is probably negative.  They take a lot of energy to maintain, they are really tasty and they still take 15 or more years to program in humans. 

In evolutionary terms, building and inventing stuff does not count.  The sauropod body plan lasted from the late triassic to the end of the dinosaur period.  Long tail, long neck, pillar legs, gizard stones, etc.   I do not think that was an underachievement. The environment changed a lot in that time and lots of new competition came along and there were massive changes in temperature and in atmospheric composition.  There may even have been one or 2 anoxic ocean events.  If the oceans go anoxic and we get a blast of H2S,  will humans survive?

Fidel wrote:

Dinos ruled the earth for something like 180 million years, and they didnt build or invent anything. They were prolific underachievers with the world at their disposal. We come along, and inside of 50,000 years, we're threatening the existence every living thing including ourselves, inventing computers and landing on the moon. Weve never had any outward physical features to give us an advantage over other preds. No razor sharp teeth or bone crushing power in our jaws. No sharp talons at the ends of our fingers or toes. Big cats and other beasties could outrun us. Our night vision is lousy compared to other beasties. Our hearing and olfactory senses are unlikely to warn us of a bear and her cubs in the viscinity. We never developed wings or even fins. It's a miracle we survived this long.