A few days ago we brought you the history of discovery of the first documented dinosaur fossil, theScrotum Humanun. In that article we made a brief review of the evolution of paleontology and how from timid and clumsy beginnings illuminated by the light of myths, we arrived at the true scientific knowledge of our days about the different species of dinosaurs, their habitat, shape of life and evolution.
Today, on the contrary, we want to rescue the figure of one of the most important and influential scientists in the study and understanding of dinosaur families Trodon and Dromaeosaurid (to which the Velociraptor and Deinonychus belong).
It was thanks to Dale russell (December 27, 1937), Canadian paleontologist and current professor in the Research area of the Department of the Navy, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (MED) at North Carolina State University, which has formed much of the knowledge that these reptiles it is currently held.
Thanks to the russell's work, it is known today that these families of dinosaurs are somehow related to birds. It is also known that they were reptiles with a great cranial capacity and great intelligence, that they were gregarious, communicative and that they displayed both characteristics to develop complex hunting and survival techniques.
But nevertheless, Russell is best known for the fictitious-paleontological hypothesis of the Dinosauroid, an evolutionary hypothesis that, although it has brought him great media fame in the world of paleontological fiction, it has also brought him great criticism and mockery from leading figures in academic circles.
“Dinosauroid" is a scientific nomenclature with which Russell refers to a anthropomorphic and intelligent dinosaur species that could have populated our planet in the event that the dinosaurs would not have become extinct. The Dinosauroid would be the reptilian equivalent of Homo sapiens, an intellectually developed bipedal being, capable of creating tools with which to manipulate its environment and with a highly developed communication system.
Although this conception is pure science fiction, the truth is that the work of Russell, Séguin and other scientists of some renown, was based entirely on data and results obtained from the fossil analysis of the remains of the Trodonts and Dromaeosaurs, to which various scientific theories about the evolution of the species were applied.
These families of dinosaurs shared a number of specific characteristics which, according to Russell, would have made them the ideal model for an anthropomorphic development parallel to the human. Thus, both the Trodonts and the Dromeosaurs were species with great cranial capacity and endowed with great intelligence. These reptiles were agile, fast and gregarious, with a great development of social skills They applied to group protection and herd hunting. In addition, they had articulated upper limbs useful for manipulating objects.
So, the Dinosauroid would be a dinosaur with great intellectual capacity that would compensate for its smaller size with the manufacture of simple tools and the development of tactics that would allow it to escape the potential predators of its time. At the same time, his intelligence and social evolution would allow him attack their prey in a lethal way, almost surgical.
Russell and his team They emphasized the importance that intelligence could have had in this reptile to be able to survive and based on this, they raised as the basis of their evolutionary hypothesis the fact that the dinosaur had evolved to develop a larger brain. By achieving this, the Dinosauroid would acquire the erect posture and would shorten the neck to better support the weight of a head proportionally larger than the body (as it happens in the human species).
When standing up, it would no longer need its tail to maintain balance, and it would gradually lose it until it became an external or internal vestigial appendage (what in our species is known as the tailbone or tailbone). To bear the new position, the ankle would lower and the foot would become longer and flatter, perhaps losing the presence of the falconiform claw of the Trodonts and Dromaeosaurids.
Regarding your intellectual development, Russell supposes that they had developed cognitive skills such as tool-making and structuring some kind of language. However, due to the enormous differences in the speech apparatus, we should not understand it, similar to the human, but more similar to that of birds.
From a scientific point of view, Russell's theory was harshly criticized for the fact that he had tried to explain the development of his creature always taking human evolution as a reference, which turns the hypothesis into a carbon copy of hominid evolution, Russell not understanding that hominid and reptilian evolution were probably divergent.
But nevertheless, Russell, also found scientific support in not so academic authors, who understood that in the event that the dinosaurs had not become extinct, Homo-Saurus would have been a feasible specimen. These authors understood that anthropomorphic evolution is a natural evolutionary fact, associated with intelligence (support of considerable brain structure) and manipulation of objects (for which it is necessary that the upper extremities are free of motor function).
Be that as it may, Russell has become a major name in the world of paleontology for his fossil studies, for having been one of the pioneers in modern evolutionary hypotheses and for being a great defender of the theory of the cataclysm in the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Image Dale russell: Nescent