How smart were velociraptors, really???
We have all cowered in our theater seats during Jurassic Park, where the velociraptors stalk their human prey with cunning malevolence. Were they really as intelligent as the movie (and book) made them out to be??? Below, we have plotted the encephalization level for dinosaurs and a few select mammals. (From http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/dinosaurs/)
|Velociraptors were Dromaeosaurids, among the dinosaurs with the very highest level, so they were truly smart among dinosaurs. On this ranking, they were probably a bit smarter than rabbits and not quite as smart as cats and dogs.|
|However, this comparison is made more complicated by the fact that the velociraptor's brains appear to be relatively primitive, despite their large size, and they may have instead had highly developed senses with not much thinking power. That is, their brains suggest they "bit first and asked questions later" and had little capability to evolve hunting strategies. (cartoon from Gary Larson)|
Not so incidentally, both the book and the movie made them a bit larger than a man, whereas they really stood about 3 - 4 feet tall. Thus, they were about the size and intelligence of a wolf (at best). Sauropods and stegosauruses must have been dumb as boards.