Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Puggles Part II
The intelligence of Mesozoic maniraptors is frequently exaggerated by pop culture and dinosaur fans, but it's good to point out that Mesozoic mammals probably weren't a whole lot more intelligent when the mammal enthusiasts get too above themselves.
Regarding Zahavi's line, the handicap principle is a hypothesis put forth by biologist Amotz Zahavi to explain why sexual selection often selects for characteristics that hinder their owners. According to this, these characteristics evolved because they hinder their owners. The idea is that, if a male can escape from enough predators and find enough food to survive to maturity in spite of such handicaps, he must be a very fine male indeed. There's a show on Animal Planet called The Most Extreme. Each episode focuses on a certain aspect of zoology (such as "Biters", or "Predators", or "Global Conquerors") and then lists the "top ten" animal contenders for that category. This isn't decided through anything particularly rigorous or scientific, but the show does contain some good information and I find it entertaining when I happen to catch it on TV. (It really messed up badly when one episode claimed that Tyrannosaurus rex was the ancestor of the Komodo dragon, however.) Either way, there was one episode I saw called "Fashion Disasters", which talked about how the physical features of some animals can cause difficulties for them, even eventually killing them. It's no surprise that seven out of ten of the contenders were in thanks to features they gained through sexual selection.
Of course, for the handicap principle to manifest at such a young age as a newly hatched monotreme would be detrimental and so probably wouldn't occur.