I, for one, welcome our new sauropod overlords

June 17, 2010

Nemo Ramjet, speculative zoologist extraordinaire and leader in the field of intelligent dinosaurs, recently completed his Brontosapiens and sent it to the SV-POW!sketeers for comment. The ensuing discussion touches on pneumaticity, child slavery, sauropod bipedality, and vomit, and we thought it was worth preserving for posterity (posted with permission from all participants).

(BTW, the gizmo the sauropod dude is holding with his tongue is a pipe, not a paintbrush. Personally, I think he should be smoking a calabash pipe, and wearing a deerstalker.)

Nemo: “I just completed this drawing of an unlikely but cool intelligent sauropod. Why should all dinosauroids come from that pesky theropod lineage? :)

I hope you find it to your liking.”

Matt: “Cool. I assume that the sacs on the face and neck are inflatable and used for social signaling?

“A big-bodied…what are going to call these things? sapientitans? encephalopods? [note: I hadn't seen the deviantART link and didn't know that Nemo had already coined a vastly superior name]…could get away with having a longish neck because adding a 4-5 kilo brain would not seriously unbalance things. But if there were any pressure for the intelligent sauropod lineage to evolve smaller body size, the more-or-less fixed size of the head would eventually drive them to evolve shorter necks, I would think. And I see that your critter has a neck almost as short as Brachytrachelopan, and seems from the limb proportions to be a diplodocid. I’m curious, did you start with the big brain -> big head -> short neck train and end up gravitating toward dicraeosaurs, or did you choose a diplodocid-like plan for another reason and evolve the short neck independently?

“Any thoughts, from anyone, on whether sapientitans would tend to stay big, evolve to even larger sizes, or get small? I also wonder how intelligence might affect the postcranial skeleton. A prehensile whiplash tail suggests itself. How about a mobile thumb instead of just a thumb claw on the forefoot, or is that too blatantly primate-like? If they were diplodocids, perhaps they would pick up interesting objects and store them in the cleft between their presacral neural spines. The tongue or tail or both could serve to pick up objects and deposit them in the cleft, where they’d be readily available no matter where the animal roamed. Perhaps they would evolve very wide neural spine troughs or even a bowl over the shoulders that could be reached by tongue and tail alike. I also like the idea of a more vertically pitched face with a narrow snout to give the eyes some binocular overlap.

“None of this is criticism of your drawing, which is fantastic–thanks for sending. It’s just that I have never thought along these lines and can’t help playing What If. I’d like to evolve the sapientitan through a few more iterations, to get something more outre but still plausible.”

Nemo: “When I was doing this, I thought that an intelligent sauropod would look either like a big-headed Isisaurus / chalicothere crossover, or something more conventional, like this guy. I imagined this guy would be a diplodocid, but I wasn’t inspired by Brachytrachelopan. I just thought the neck would grow shorter and thicker as the brain grew.

“I imagine these guys would use their big “mitten” claws and thumbs for very strong and crude manipulation, and the long tongue for fine-tuning and touch. I just gave it a whiplash tail, I didn’t think it would play a role in manipulation. The neck and face sacs were indeed for social purposes – I imagine they would sound like monstrous bagpipes, audible for miles around…”

Darren: “I wanted to add a few comments, take them or leave them…

– Normal sauropods presumably acted mostly on instinct when it came to finding food sources – you don’t need a big brain for that. But a herbivore with a reasonable memory can remember the whens and wheres of fruiting trees and other seasonally available resources. Individuals might therefore spend their time migrating between key areas: they might have encountered these during their youthful wanderings, or may recall them from their time of parental supervision.

– It’s looking likely that sauropods were precoccial with little or no post-hatching parental care. But a big-brained lineage perhaps required extensive parental care, so perhaps we should expect smaller clutches because juvenile mortality was much lower. And if parents are caring for babies, they’d have to work hard to protect them from predators.

– Increased intelligence means that these sauropods were better at predicting the behaviour of, and therefore avoiding, predators. I would expect them to exhibit active ‘predator awareness’ bits of behaviour: regular bipedal standing to scan the horizon, long-distance communication with conspecifics to see what’s happening out of sight, perhaps a better multi-spacial awareness than normal sauropods. Maybe they have evolved on islands where big predators are absent, or maybe they swim to islands to breed.

– Some biologists argue that big brains are ‘luxury organs’ – only possible when high amount of fat/energy/protein are available in abundance. Could one lineage of sauropods have evolved big brains because they began exploiting a new, energy-rich resource? Fatty fruits and/or carrion may have contributed to brain size in hominoids, so could sauropods have followed a similar path? Exploitation of a new, oily fruit?

– Normal sauropods may well have been able to communicate long distances with infrasound, loud vocalisations etc. A smart sauropod lineage could hypothetically use complex, phased or staccato sounds to communicate more complicated messages. Sophisticated control of air sacs (both internal ones and balloon-like sacs on neck and head) could have allowed crazy complicated drumming or multi-part messages.

– I speculate that all smart animals think the world was made for them. And if you’re a sauropod, that’s easy to believe. The earth is borne on the back of a giant sauropod earth mother, covered in a billion kinds of fleas. As the sun goes down, the iridescent ossicles, studded within the skin of the sky sauropod, wheel overhead. What smart sauropods think of their dumb cousins is a good question.”

Matt: “It might be cool to post the picture, Nemo’s thoughts on the picture, and further thoughts from some or all of the SV-POW!sketeers. We already have those thoughts from everyone but Mike.

“So, Darren and Nemo, can I post your thoughts? And Mike, do you have anything you’d like to have included?”

Darren: “You can post my thoughts if you want (yikes, I didn’t really polish them or add references, as I would if I were doing it properly), feel free to chop/change, add or subtract. I was inspired by stuff I’ve read on big-brained artiodactyls, primates and birds.”

Nemo: “Sure, please include all of my thoughts – I’d love to see this guy go up on SV POW.

“Darren’s points are very interesting and as usual they lead to even cooler possibilities. Could it be that these guys arose through an increase in social behavior, which eventually led to a self-sustaining cycle of increased parental care, fewer offspring and stronger social bonds. At one point, a lucky encounter with a richer food source could have given them a decisive advantage. Perhaps there could even be an anatomical adaptation supporting this social structure. Vomit milk for the offspring, perhaps?

“Someone on Deviantart also suggested that perhaps these intelligent sauropods could use their offspring in a hereditary system of “youth slavery” to have the smaller offspring perform more complicated tasks of manipulation, manufacture and so on. Work hard, and the kids “earn their vomit.” By the way, this reminds me – I keep hearing stuff about bipedal trackways left by juvenile sauropods. Is there any truth behind this?

“Elaborating more on the intelligent sauropods; I wonder what these guys’ version of agriculture would be like. Would it be fields and terraces, or a generation-long semi-migratory habit of leaving some areas fallow and alternating between different realms? Or would they just demolish everything aside from their food trees?”

Darren: “Luis Rey, John Conway and I were talking about these tracks when we met in London a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t be totally bowled over with surprise if someone were to demonstrate bipedality in diplodocids – but bipedality where the body and tail are pretty much horizontal and the forelimbs are just hovering above the ground. This is what pangolins do: it’s probably an accidental effect of having such a heavy-ass tail, and the animals do it because they can: they’re pre-adapted for it, with particularly strong hindlimbs, well reinforced pelvis, shortened forelimbs etc. And bipedal walking has been suggested before for diplodocids: Emily Buchholtz argued that small forelimb nerves indicated ‘weak’ forelimbs… leading Greg Paul to propose bipedality. So, yeah, in principle I don’t think it that ridiculous.

“However….

“The tracks are supposed to show wide gait, and (IIRC) running behaviour. This makes me think that misinterpretation is the more likely explanation.”

Mike: “Holy poop! Nemo has independently reinvented the Nourishing Vomit Of Eucamerotus hypothesis! (Hereafter the NVOE hypothesis.) No matter, though — my Tet Zoo comment of a couple of years ago establishes publication precedence :-)”

[Exeunt all, pursued by bear.]

That brings us up to this morning, and to this post.

The ‘youth slavery’ bit got me thinking. We tend to think of words like “nurturing” and “loving” when we think of extensive parental care. But maybe it ain’t necessarily so. What if Brontosapiens evolved a big brain and intelligence with no decrease in its reproductive output, compared to its ancestors? Parental care might mean, “while you’re overseeing their labor, make sure that at least some of these worthless little bastards survive to adulthood”, not “lavish each child with love and attention”. That’s not the route taken by cetaceans and anthropoids, but then almost any mammal is radically K-selected by sauropod standards, especially the big, non-rodenty types. I don’t think that intelligence and R-selection are a priori incompatible; how about cephalopods?

In the entire racial memory of Brontosapiens, there might never have been a time when offspring were not expendable. Brontosapiens parents might be fairly ruthless about culling the unfit from their immense clutches. Cannibalism would probably be rampant, both of adults on their offspring and of juveniles on hatchlings (in fact, I wonder if that was true of real-world sauropods). By the time the few survivors reached adulthood, they would have to be cunning, nefarious, backstabbing, conspiratorial monsters. Much like the Prador of Neal Asher’s Polity novels, or going back a bit further, the Tharks of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom. Although the Tharks, at least, are not R-selected, producing only one egg each breeding season. The hatchlings are raised communally and without affection because the Tharks are degenerate barbarians, not for strictly biological reasons, and the poor treatment of the young is one of the factors reinforcing their low state. I wonder if Burroughs was taking a dig at Plato’s Republic there?

All right, now I’m speculating about imaginary beings that aren’t even sauropods, so I’d best close. Many thanks to Nemo for thinking this up, inviting us to comment, and giving permission to post his thoughts. The comment field is open; let’s keep it rolling.

Update (an hour or two later)

Nemo has kindly given us permission to upload the ultra-high-resolution version of his artwork, so here it is (greyscale JPEG, 1.14 Mb, 8859 x 2126 pixels.)

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25 Responses to “I, for one, welcome our new sauropod overlords”

  1. Andrea Cau Says:

    Matt, according to the Holy “Clash of the Dinosaurs, the New Guide to True Palaeontology” (uncensored version), smart sauropods evolved without the need of a large head: they expanded the “second brain” placed in the sacral region (the so-called “glycogen bodies” of some heretics).

    ;-)

  2. Matt Wedel Says:

    Indeed. Some radical saurologians have even proposed a trinitarian mocktrine of conventional brain, pseudohead, and arsebrain–also known as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. More conservative scholars think that they’re just playing both ends against the middle.

  3. C. M. Koseman Says:

    There’s no such thing as free vomit in the Dominion of the Sauropod Overlords.

  4. brian engh Says:

    So cool! Wait, DAMN! I’ve been beaten to the punch! Well, sort of…

    For the past year and a half or so I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing an illustration of two Brachiosaurids with big pneumatic throat pouches facing off… (Matt, you may recall some of the sketches I sent you…) Alas, I wanted to be the first to do that!

    Ahh but this is really cool, and conceptually very different from what I was sketching, I suppose I shall continue with my illustration so long as it isn’t regarded as plagiaristic… I direct those interested to these sketches I did sometime last year:

    Anyway, Nemo’s monster is awesome. Say, were their tongues typically dry enough that they could load their pipes without getting the leaves (or ah, crystals?) too moist to light? Or did they purchase their pipes pre-loaded/lit from sketchy therizinosaur dealers?

    One thing is certain: Ankylosaurs smoked cigars.

  5. ech Says:

    Would intelligent brains really be that much of a tax on something as big a sauropod? Surely a human-style brain’s caloric needs are lost in the noise?

  6. William Miller Says:

    Intelligent sauropods: Awesome!

    Agriculture: I wonder if they would ever invent it? It’s now thought by some that sedentism preceded agriculture, and I don’t think any region of Earth is rich enough to support a sedentary population of non-agricultural large sauropods. Maybe if they were Brachytrachelopan-size, though even that’s a stretch; there aren’t all *that* many places on Earth rich enough for sedentary non-agricultural human cultures. On the other hand, humans can’t really eat tree leaves, which are abundant; on the other other hand, they’re not very nutritious. We’d need a good estimate for intelligent-sauropod calorie needs… (Do we even have decent estimates for the caloric needs of *real* sauropods?)

    Attitude toward offspring: I agree that an r-selected intelligent species would not have the love, etc. for their children that humans tend to. Similarly, once they developed medical care/protection of offspring from predators/etc., they would have enormous population pressure and thus extreme violence. And probably less compassion, etc. in general. I was thinking this out for an alien species a couple of months back; I had the planet rapidly split into a few nation/families (with r-selected reproduction rates and protection/care of offspring, you can get a family of millions in a few generations) all struggling for more resources. (They would still cull the weak, but they would protect their young ferociously — not from love but to have bigger armies/workforces/etc.)

    Tharks: they had a much higher lifetime reproductive output than one egg per season suggests to us, given their incredibly long lifespans (averaging 300 years, 1000+ if not killed by violence). Their poor treatment of their children isn’t necessarily a result of barbarism; at times it’s presented as a logical adaptation to their harsh environment.


  7. I’ve always found parental care difficult to credit for sauropods simply because of the sheer size differential. Could a fully grown adult even see a newborn hatchling? On the other hand, I think that size differential is bound to lead to a strong spiritualist mindset in this case. Terry Pratchett commented in Small Gods about conceptions of God being based on childhood impressions of one’s father, so what would those impressions be like when one’s father is that enormous and that remote?

  8. Nathan Myers Says:

    “Holy poop”, indeed. I’m already on record favoring coprophagy for juvenile sauropods.

    Once we have sapient sauropods, it’s a small step to blaming them for Chicxulub. But, first, that Brontosapient needs a monocle. And a light.


  9. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bec Crew and Chris Rowan, JP – Research Lab. JP – Research Lab said: I, for one, welcome our new sauropod overlords: Nemo Ramjet, speculative zoologist extraordinaire and leader in t… http://bit.ly/diFcFY [...]

  10. Matt Wedel Says:

    We’d need a good estimate for intelligent-sauropod calorie needs… (Do we even have decent estimates for the caloric needs of *real* sauropods?)

    Ha! That depends on who you ask, and what they think of sauropod metabolism. But Christopher Taylor ech nailed it: the cost of a big brain would be negligible for a sauropod, even the smaller ones. I think you’d have to get down to Europasaurus size before it would make a detectable difference in the animal’s energy budget.

    I was thinking this out for an alien species a couple of months back; I had the planet rapidly split into a few nation/families (with r-selected reproduction rates and protection/care of offspring, you can get a family of millions in a few generations) all struggling for more resources. (They would still cull the weak, but they would protect their young ferociously — not from love but to have bigger armies/workforces/etc.)

    Dude, I believe you have independently recreated the premise of The Mote in God’s Eye and The Gripping Hand, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Both top books–if you haven’t read them, get on it!

    Tharks: they had a much higher lifetime reproductive output than one egg per season suggests to us, given their incredibly long lifespans (averaging 300 years, 1000+ if not killed by violence).

    Strong point, and something I’d not thought of.

    Their poor treatment of their children isn’t necessarily a result of barbarism; at times it’s presented as a logical adaptation to their harsh environment.

    IIRC, the general bloodthirstiness of all Barsoomians, including the red people, is presented as a logical and inevitable consequence of diminishing resources on a dying planet, and the poor treatment of Thark offspring is implicated at least in part in the degeneracy of the Tharks compared to the civilized races. But I could be wrong. Feel free to continue either way; I haven’t found many people with whom I can discuss Thark biology and sociology. And if you eavesdroppers are drawing a blank, go read A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Even 98 years after it was first printed, it’s a damned good read.


  11. But Christopher Taylor nailed it: the cost of a big brain would be negligible for a sauropod, even the smaller ones.

    It wasn’t me who said that, it was ‘ech’.

  12. Matt Wedel Says:

    Whups, my bad. Fixed above.

    You were on my mind because I really liked your comment and meant to say something about it. Specifically, this: speculative zoology tends to focus on the biology, even for speculatively intelligent animals, and less on the probable culture. Nemo’s dinosauroid cave art is the exception that proves the rule. And I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone discuss the religion of speculatively intelligent animals (in discussions like this, and obviously not counting things like sci-fi short stories and novels).

    I think that if Homo sapiens had encountered sauropods, at least some of us would have worshiped them (hey, some of us do anyway). I can scarcely imagine how big an adult Argentinosaurus or Sauroposeidon would look to a hatchling. Very much like a god, I suppose.

    But, in keeping with the foregoing discussion, an evil god, or at least an indifferent one. Possibly Crom.

    All right, we’re a mere dozen comments in and already I’ve had cause to mention Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Robert E. Howard! Where are we going next?

  13. Matt Wedel Says:

    Just thought of these and have to post them before I turn it, lest I forget. I started with the idea that Brontosapiens would have employed their own offspring to do detail work, as related above by Nemo. Brontosapiens wouldn’t necessarily need to domesticate beasts of burden, unless they somehow found a use for their even larger cousins. But those cousins would be competing directly for the same resources, so I think it’s more likely that Brontosapiens would simply wipe them out (possibly before they realized that they were wiping them out, a la Pleistocene overkill). They’d probably do in all the big theropods, too, just as we humans have done in almost all of the big mammalian predators (yes, I know, tigers and lions are technically not extinct on the planet, but over the vast majority of their former ranges, they’re history).

    What kinds of critters would Brontosapiens find useful? Small animals that are smart enough to respond to verbal commands, dexterous enough to do useful work, and agile enough not to get stepped on. I favor parrots as Brontosapiens familiars. They could perch behind the head when not employed. Maybe that’s how seniority is established among the brontos–by the number of parrots you’ve got sitting on your neck, waiting for orders.

    Wars among brontosapient civilizations would probably be fought by juveniles–they’d be smaller, faster, harder to hit, easier to feed, easier to build armor and vehicles for. Convicts and debtors might get pressed into service as living tanks and personnel carriers. High-ranking soldier brontos would use falcons instead of or alongside parrots as familiars (before you tell me that falcons eat parrots, remember that the brontos would presumably have been domesticating these things for millenia; they might think of parrots-n-falcons like we think of cats-n-dogs). Homing pigeons, too, of course.

    It’s hard to see the brontos ever developing much of an aerospace industry. Reconnaissance could be performed by camera-equipped avian familiars. Planes would have to be insanely big to get off the ground, and you don’t necessarily want to entrust them to juvenile pilots just to cut down on mass.

    I’ll bet that at least one bronto civilization would embark on a selective breeding program to dwarf themselves. With a long history of surplus offspring and teen pregnancy, they’d probably have few compunctions about eugenics, and a compliant biology. Combined with a crash program in bomber development–with newly downsized adults to pilot them–successful dwarfing could give the state a decisive advantage against its neighbors.

    But maybe brontos wouldn’t be uncaring warlike a-holes. Maybe they’d be gentle giants. They might look at the territoriality, murder, rape, and infanticide in the anthropoid lineage and predict intelligent hominids with an exceptionally strong potential for self-destruction. That speculative experiment, at least, is still in progress.

  14. Mike Taylor Says:

    Wars among brontosapient civilizations would probably be fought by juveniles–they’d be smaller, faster, harder to hit, easier to feed, easier to build armor and vehicles for.

    Same is true of humans, isn’t it?

  15. Darren Naish Says:

    Inspired by this talk of warfare and aggression, I wonder if the nomadic, spread-across-distance lifestyle of stem-brontosapients might encourage an extremely tolerant, harmonious culture – after all, there is no tradition of violent resource defence in these animals, especially not for feeding space (they’ve spent eons moving between resources, and staying away from ravaged areas until they recover).

    The large numbers of babies they produce could encourage the idea that earth is the bountiful provider of immense resources, and that brontosapient kind have a duty to fill the world, though knowing that they never will. Theropods, big crocodilians and giant pterosaurs might be seen as a necessary evil, required to weed out the sick and infirm from the young.

    I also wonder if a long history of long-distance communication (via infrasound and massively loud vocalisations as per above) might promote peace and co-operation: populations have grown up knowing through daily updates what their neighbours are doing, friendships and alliances might be maintained over 10s or 100s of km, and (without wanting to go toward Avatar or Bones of the Earth), a trans-continental network of constant communication may have kept all members of the species knit into one continuous republic. Would messengers belonging to other species be required given the possibility of rapid, long-distance communication?

  16. Marie Says:

    Oh! That’s really neat, both in concept and the actual art. Can someone new play, too?

    The two things that jumped out at me and wanted to make a connection were the suggestion of a new and richer food source aiding the development of the brain, and the potential cannibalization of excess offspring. Oilier fruits were mentioned to spur the brains along, but is it absolutely necessary that sauropod lineages would remain herbivorous, or could they possibly evolve the ability to process meat somewhere along the way? (Cannibalization would seem to require that to me, but I don’t really know enough about it to be sure.) If they did in fact begin adding meat to their diets, either as a supplement to plant matter or moving more toward omnivorism (is that a real word?), maybe the consumption of the aforementioned offspring could have contributed to brain growth – for whatever reason, unhatched eggs or hatchlings that died soon after emerging started being eaten. Maybe it was to clean up the hatching grounds, or because there was nothing else to eat – then actual cravings for meat might have evolved, leading to increased consumption of it, and somewhere amidst all this, intelligence happened. I don’t think it would even be necessary that they recognize/understand the meat/cannibalism/smarts connection – they might just have an instinct that says, “Hey, don’t let those eggs sit there and rot; eat them – they’re good for you. What’s that? You have a youngling who can’t pull his weight and is sucking up resources? Screw that – make him into a resource.” – and so on.

    I favor parrots as Brontosapiens familiars. They could perch behind the head when not employed. Maybe that’s how seniority is established among the brontos–by the number of parrots you’ve got sitting on your neck, waiting for orders.

    So who else is imagining hordes of Brontosapiens pirates now?

    Oh. Just me? Right, then!

  17. Nathan Myers Says:

    We’re neglecting the most important topic: How would the development of sapience have affected their vertebrae?

  18. Matt Wedel Says:

    Oh! That’s really neat, both in concept and the actual art. Can someone new play, too?

    For sure!

    I don’t think it would even be necessary that they recognize/understand the meat/cannibalism/smarts connection – they might just have an instinct that says, “Hey, don’t let those eggs sit there and rot; eat them – they’re good for you. What’s that? You have a youngling who can’t pull his weight and is sucking up resources? Screw that – make him into a resource.” – and so on.

    FWIW, I believe that this is exactly how it works among some extant reptiles. And aren’t there some birds that will consume their own surplus or infertile eggs, or did I get that from Vague Scientist? Darn it, where’s Darren when you need him?

    >I favor parrots as Brontosapiens familiars.

    So who else is imagining hordes of Brontosapiens pirates now?

    This comment thread just maxed out on awesome.

  19. Matt Wedel Says:

    We’re neglecting the most important topic: How would the development of sapience have affected their vertebrae?

    Ahem: “Perhaps they would evolve very wide neural spine troughs or even a bowl over the shoulders that could be reached by tongue and tail alike.”

    That’s good news for Mike; it means that Brontosapiens could potentially be identified by a single partial dorsal vertebra.

  20. William Miller Says:

    Re Tharks: yes, the general extreme violence of Barsoomian culture is attributed to resource competition. I’m not sure degeneracy is really the applicable term for Tharks; they do not seem to have ever been a really civilized culture (the ruined cities they inhabit are not theirs, but were built by the human-Martians). They have become harsher than even the human-Martians, yes, and this is indeed self-perpetuating – but they seem to be a barbaric culture which never got the chance to get out of a vicious cycle (living in much harsher lands than the human-Martian races), not a decadent/degenerate one.

    Mote in God’s Eye: yes, I’ve read it. My aliens’ culture and so on turned out quite differently; the only real similarity is the population-pressure thing. (The Moties were a bit too human, IMO, in some ways; their problem only really existed because they *did* value/care for their young, after all.)

    Darren wrote: “Inspired by this talk of warfare and aggression, I wonder if the nomadic, spread-across-distance lifestyle of stem-brontosapients might encourage an extremely tolerant, harmonious culture – after all, there is no tradition of violent resource defence in these animals, especially not for feeding space (they’ve spent eons moving between resources, and staying away from ravaged areas until they recover).”

    Early in their civilization history, yes. Later on, when medicine and such have increased their population to the point of resource strain, violence will probably appear. (If sauropods had less violent instincts than, say, primates, it would take longer to appear — but when it *did* it would likely spread very fast, as the nonviolent ones lost out.)

    Re the use of young: much will depend on how fast their minds develop relative to their bodies. There is no particular reason that I know of why an intelligent species could not reach sexual maturity before attaining full sapience; like Hal Clement’s Drommians, which were adult-sized at the human-equivalent mental age of five. This might even be evolutionarily more efficient than how we do it (focus energy on body-growth and maturing, *then* concentrate on the tricky brain stuff). Using their young as soldiers/slaves/etc would require their young to be capable of understanding orders at the age where they were small enough to be more nimble, which isn’t a foregone conclusion.


  21. <>

    Sounds like Rob Sawyer’s Quintaglios, too.


  22. Brontosapiens parents might be fairly ruthless about culling the unfit from their immense clutches. … By the time the few survivors reached adulthood, they would have to be cunning, nefarious, backstabbing, conspiratorial monsters.

    Sounds like Rob Sawyer’s Quintaglios too.

  23. one layman Says:

    since when smoking is a sign of intelligence?

  24. Anonymous Says:

    You know, instead of any one of these ideas being definitive of Brontosapiens culture, it might be possible that all of these ideas could be found among various Brontosapiens civilizations. After all, human civilizations aren’t all alike (just look at the variety of culture in the Ancient Mediterranean) and, despite what Star Trek would like us to believe, non-human sapient species would likely be the same way.

    In addition to the juvenile-enslaving, warmongering Brontosapiens, I could easily see an island or island continent-based civilization of Brontosapiens going through with the eugenics-dwarfing project in order to make more out of scarce resources (or maybe it would occur more naturally due to insular dwarfing, who knows).

    The relatively more peaceful, nomadic Brontosapiens, termed here as “Wanderlusts” could also likely survive in the fact of their more aggressive kin. Long-distance communication, combined with the fact that they are so spread out, would make it extremely hard for agressive Brontosapiens cultures to sneak up on Wanderlusts. Even bombing raids probably wouldn’t affect them that much due to their thin population density. And because they can communicate over long distances, now you’ve got every Wanderlust in the region ticked off and ready to kick your basal saurischian-style pelvis.

    Though instead of parrots or falcons, might the Brontosapiens choose something native to their time, like some kind of derived pseudo-parrot-like enantiornithe or small theropod?


  25. [...] work of Memo–a.k.a. Nemo Ramjet–for longer than SV-POW! has existed (he also created Brontosapiens!). But wait–there’s more! One of the first people to review the book is Emily [...]


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