Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creature Feature: Troodon (or "Reptoids for Dummies.")

It's 2012. That means you all are probably sick of hearing about the apocalypse, the New World Order, or how you're going to Hell for listening to Lady Gaga. There's even the crazy idea that the world is secretly run by a bunch of lizard-people, perhaps explaining some of what The Lizard did during the Spider-Man movie.

Enter reptoid theory- the idea that, somehow or another, we ended up being the puppets of humanoid reptiles. Some say they're from the constellation Draco or another dimension; others say they evolved from dinosaurs like Troodon.

Troodon as a genus contains several species, all of whom were native to North America. They were theropods like the ever-popular Velociraptor, and were only about 2 meters long from snout to tail. Although they were probably carnivorous most of the time, the way their teeth are worn suggests that there may have been vegetation on the menu as well. We think they went extinct in the Late Cretaceous.

As the name would suggest, Troodon had very strange teeth.Unlike most theropods, their teeth were edged like a saw. This has led to a few confusing things: for example, originally, all we had of these guys were the teeth. They were slated alongside pachycephalosaurs (i.e. those dinosaurs with crash helmets) until more complete specimens of Stenonychosaurus were discovered. This dinosaur was later renamed Troodon, but the whole genus is rather shaky. We still don't know why the teeth of a carnivorous dinosaur are serrated like that, but Troodon may have eaten plants, too.

The Troodon we know today also had extremely dextrous hands. Exactly what it used this dexterity for remains a mystery. If it ever used tools, well, we wouldn't be surprised. If it washed fruit with them, so much for being a carnivore.

Remember that entry on Carnotaur? Binocular vision was another one of Troodon's bonuses. This critter is leaning more and more toward the predator side, even though the odd jaw and teeth suggest plant matter as well. Okay, now this is just getting creepy.

So we have an omnivorous dinosaur with dextrous hands, binocular vision, and possibly an omnivorous diet. That's right: They were pretty much the raccoons of the dinosaur age. 

Troodon was also the Einstein of dinosaurs. There's a little something called the EQ- basically, a brain-to-body weight ratio - that theoretically determines how intelligent something was/is. Troodon had an EQ six times higher than that of any other known dinosaur. As per a statement by National Museum  of Canada curator Dave Russell in 1982, if they hadn't gone extinct when they did, they probably would have evolved into a creature similar to humans - perhaps so similar that they would have evolved a placenta. Also, if any dinosaur was capable of surviving a mass-extinction event, it would probably have been a Troodon.

Russell's models.

Suddenly, global warming and the prevalence of reptoids in media make a lot of sense, don't they? Just a thought.

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