Troodon is smarter than dolphins

How smart were Troodons really?

The debates about the intelligence of the dinosaurs, especially within the Dromaeosauridae and Troodontidae, have been going on since the time of the so-called "Dinosaur Revolution" in the late 1960s. At that time, the reconstruction of the Deinonychus the old image of the dinosaurs, which until then had been characterized as clumsy, lazy lizards, was thrown overboard and it was recognized that some species were much more similar to birds than to dinosaurs and probably must have been very agile and intelligent.

The American-Canadian paleontologist Dale Russel contributed to the debate with his research when he did his research on the one he discovered in 1969 "Stenonychosaurus"made public. In the 80s it was recognized by dental examinations that Stenonychosaurus'Teeth were congruent with the Troodon teeth described by Joseph Leidy as early as 1856, which Leidy took to be the teeth of a large lizard - so it became Stenonychosaurus as a name no longer applicable, but was now given as Troodon an even greater attention. Russel was the first to measure the skull of this dinosaur and determine its considerable size. As early as 1982 he drew attention to himself again when he unveiled the model of the "Sauroid" - one of the fictional descendants of the Troodons: Troodontids might have evolved into human-like beings, according to Russel, if they hadn't become extinct, they were so intelligent!

Personally, I see this debate a little more soberly than Russell. The earliest troodontids finally appeared as early as the late Jurassic, when their evolutionary paths separated from those of the dromaeosaurids and birds. So they would have had more than 80 million years to find a way to become a civilization-building species, but they didn't. They were already superbly adapted to their ecological niche as medium-sized hunters (and omnivores). So they were probably very intelligent, but how intelligent, exactly, no paleontologist can answer.

In the past, comparisons with mammals were always used to assess intelligence. Since mammals have relatively large brains, the "dinosaur revolution" slowed down a bit, and even today many still think that dinosaurs were not particularly smart because of their small brains - and so were they Troodons are no exception. The relationship between body weight and brain volume was significantly smaller in them than, for example, in dogs of about the same size, so that many scientists assumed for a long time that the Troodons, despite their relatively large brains, were not as intelligent as any higher mammal, and not much either smarter than a snake or a lizard.

However, this picture has since been corrected and now allows completely different conclusions: The comparison with mammalian brains is obsolete because dinosaurs had completely different brain structures that were much more similar to those of crocodiles and birds. A bird has a relatively smaller and lighter, but neuronally much better connected and therefore more efficient brain in its head than a mammal of the same size. If you apply this formula to the Troodon, it had roughly the same ratio between brain volume and body weight as a ratite, i.e. an ostrich or an emu, and should therefore have been at least as intelligent as one.

Some researchers go even further: Since the size of the brain is so unrepresentative when it comes to dinosaur intelligence, Troodons could have been even more intelligent. They even draw comparisons with parrots and crows and let the troodon play more in that league - which would make the troodon one of the most intelligent of all animals. Crows are so smart that their performance in terms of stimulus processing, short-term memory, problem-solving and communication can be compared to that of an elementary school child and even clearly outperform them in some areas.

Whether and to what extent this actually applies to Troodons is, as I said, impossible to say. In addition, we lack the studies on living animals that are the only ones that could provide information about its behavior and intelligence. The only thing that can be said with certainty: Of all dinosaurs, the troodontids had the relatively largest brains. And that's it.