Reconstructing the behaviors of extinct species: An excursion into comparative paleoneurology


  • Scott W. Rogers

    Corresponding author
    1. Salt Lake City VA-Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center and Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Neurobiology and Anatomy; MREB 403, University of Utah School of Medicine, 20 North 1900 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84132-3401.
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How can the behavior of an extinct species be reconstructed—say a dinosaur such as Allosaurus? Despite the relatively abundant fossilized remains of this and other dinosaurs, the incompleteness of the fossil record has permitted room for considerable speculation, mythology, and perhaps a bit of unsettling reflection on what factors contributed to the eventual fate of these remarkably successful animals. Among the speculations is how these ‘bigger-than-life’ creatures behaved, a topic that itself can attain equal diversity and grandeur. With recent advancements in measuring the relatedness of living organisms, how genetics contribute to brain development and how this relates to behavior, combined with the availability of newly discovered high quality fossils and imaging methods to exploit their secrets, novel insights into how extinct creatures such as Allosaurus intermingled with its many relatives over 100 million years ago are beginning to emerge. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.