STL Science Center

STL Science Center

11 May 2017

Seen on Video

Dale Russell and Ron Seguin, 1982 
Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada
Troodon has appeared in so many popular venues from books to video games to movies to toys that it is nearly impossible to focus on any single area of the dinosaur's sphere of influence. Instead, we should look a little closer at Dale Russell's interpretation of Troodon evolution and the hypothesis of its continued and increasing intelligence. This hypothesized animal was dubbed Troodon sapiens by Russell and was given form by sculptor Ron Seguin in 1982. I remember seeing it when I was young and being impressed and a little confused. The idea that other forms of animals could take on humanoid forms in the course of their evolution was very odd but not out of the realm of possibility. An intelligent dinosaur, like Troodon, that had been able to evolve (without a major extinction event limiting them), would have potentially been capable of evolving large heads and changing their posture. Therefore, Russell's hypothetical "Dinosauroid Man" was not, and is not, actually all that bizarre. Though any dinosaurs, intelligent or otherwise, could have potentially evolved into more upright, tail-less, postures over millions of years. The fact that someone put that idea into a solid form and wrote a paper about that idea is bold, but that did not endear Russell to everyone. Though I do not know how controversial the "thought experiment" was or still is, it was apparently controversial enough that many disliked it. One of the chief complaints, and what makes it so eerie, is the extent of the antrhopomorphic characteristics of this evolutionary experiment. As I mentioned on Monday (or Tuesday because I mixed up my days), discuss this sculpture, but do not lose friends over it!

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