dumb dinosaur question

ok in kids shows and movies with dinosaurs there’s usually a character that’s adopted by another dinosaur that’s totally different species (dinosaur train has a flying dino hatching a t rex egg land before time has spike…)

Wouldn’t the mother kill the hatchling that wasn’t hers or would it be like the squirrel that raised a kitten as her own ? in the fact she seemed to think the cat was just a mutant …

Meadow pipits, dunnocks and reed warblers seem not to notice that a cuckoo has taken over the nest, but the behavior of modern animals is no indicator of how dinosaurs might have behaved.

Children’s shows are one of the least reliable sources of science information, especially speculation about behavior.

Note: most paleontologists doubt the any known dinosaur or pterosaur species actually spoke English.

Given that birds are basically modified dinosaurs, it might be.

More generally, animals (especially female) that tend their offspring have a notable tendency to accept what they are given and get on with the job.

Also, no reliable paleontologist has ever proposed or furnished evidence that any saurian species ever developed rail travel. Even primitive steam-powered rail travel, as is depicted in that “documentary.” :confused:

I have some reservations about the scientific accuracy of that piece of educational programming.

Even given the famous large brain of the Troodon, it is highly unlikely unlikely they were able to develop either the physics or the energies required for Time Tunnel Technology.

Current thinking is that they were handicapped by an inability to count past 1 - monorail trains being regarded as much tougher to develop than those that use 2 rails.

Since this is a question about dumb dinosaurs, with brains the size of walnuts, they didn’t know any better. Didn’t they even have an auxiliary brain in their tail, to run the other half of their body, because the brain in their head didn’t reach that far?

Whenever I watch Dinosaur Train (yes, I watch Dinosaur Train) I think about the implications to the visited dinosaurs. “Hello, I’m visiting from a time when your entire species is extinct and your very existence is nothing more than a historical curiosity. How do you do?”

Nope. (ETA a good specific link from one of the better paleontology blogs.)

Nobody has believed this since you were in grade school. It’s bizarrely hard to kill as a myth, though.

ETA. Weird. Same link as above.

I don’t think the intelligence of a dinosaur is the key issue here. Looking around the animal kingdom, you see a wide variety of behaviors that don’t seem to correlate to intelligence.

Most likely, parents are responding to certain hard-wired cues. Things like the noises made by the baby and its color or body proportions. These cues are fairly basic and if you imitate them just right, you trigger the parenting response.

There’s an interesting opposite example in fish. Apparently, many fish start off life with different coloration than the adults, and the adults often eat both their own eggs and their own fry. After the fry get big enough, they adopt the adult coloration and join the school. It really isn’t an example of intelligence, but of pattern matching.

Also there is the issue of parental care in dinosaurs. Did the parents feed them in a nest for a period, or were they on their own from the moment of birth? Since absolute facts about behavior (rarely) fossilize, scientists are stuck with making their best guesses based on the physiology of any juvenile skeletons they can find and on comparison to modern species.

With pterosaurs, it seems pretty unlikely that the hatchlings would be able to fly and capture food immediately after hatching, so they likely had parental care and feeding for some time after birth. For dinosaurs, though, it was probably more of a mixed bag of strategies. For example, sauropods are thought to have been migratory herd animals (bones are found in large groups, nesting sites are known to cover miles, they couldn’t have stayed in one place for long without stripping it clean) and skeletons of very young sauropods were proportioned very similar to adults. so young sauropods probably had to start walking along with the herd very soon after birth, like modern horses, and cattle and the like, but without the possibility of nursing, giving them less reason to be tied to a parent (though they may have been guarded as a whole by the adults as a whole, as long as they avoided being stepped on.) But other groups of dinosaurs may have had different strategies. The hatchlings of carnivorous dinosaurs may have been fed chunks of meat in a nest by one or both of it’s parents. On the other hand, they may have got the hell out of Dodge as quickly as possible to avoid becoming food for the parents (as happens with many non-mammalian or avian species.) Reality was probably a mix of both systems depending on individual species.

(ETA not implying that pterosaurs are dinosaurs, just grouping them in because they are included in the premise of Dinosaur Train.)

Humans couldn’t even get it right in 1968. :smiley:

It’s also possible that sauropods were able to go very long periods without feeding. A creature that size has vast reserves. So during breeding season it’s possible they spent a long time at the nesting sites, that would turn into barren wastelands as every scrap of plant material was consumed, and the sauropods lived off their body fat. Then the eggs hatch and in a few days everyone is walking to greener pastures, including the hatchlings. And there were probably millions of hatchlings, overwhelming the ability of predators to eat them all.

Anyway, nobody knows how much parental care dinosaurs provided. Any reproductive model that modern reptiles and birds exhibit could have been present, along with others that have no modern analogue.

Nest parasitism only works if the hosts provide some sort of parental care, like modern birds do. I’d bet almost all theropod carnivores provided parental care along the lines of birds. But others might have been more like crocodiles, where they lay eggs and hang around but don’t actually feed the offspring. Others might have ignored or even predated on the offspring.

BTW, related to my comment “nesting sites are known to cover miles”, this is an excellent general-audience book on the subject.

How would we possibly know?

To what extent do we know that dinosaurs (specific species or in general) provided long-term nurture of their young? Infant mammals need to be suckled and weaned - hatchling birds need to fledge - I’m sure that some species of dinosaur probably had a requirement for the parent to nurture the young, but I imagine a lot of them were pretty independent as soon as they hatched.

A parent dinosaur isn’t going to ‘adopt’ offspring of a different species if it doesn’t even do that for its own.

I don’t zombie lightly, but I objected to “The Land Before Time” on account of anthropocentric representation of predators. I see this frequently in popular culture. A crocodile has no free will, only instinct.

Of course, Dinosaurs probably didn’t speak English either…

Do you think that’s a fair argument, though?

I have an innate phobia of snakes, and their representation as EVIL in Western Culture hasn’t helped.

Anyway, I think children must be taught the difference between instinctual and malicious behavior.

It’s a children’s cartoon.

Which then raises the question of how far from known scientific fact is it acceptable for children’s entertainment to go.

I would imagine that most of us would allow animals to talk; kids would soon become bored with cartoons where all the animals used grunts, growls, roars and squeals and they had no idea what was going on. Parents would probably object at too much red-in-tooth-and-claw realism, but at what point/age do children realise that that nice leg of lamb they had for Sunday dinner actually come from those cute little lambs bouncing about in the fields, or that big dinosaurs ate little dinosaurs for breakfast.

I suspect that most of us here expect out children’s toys to have some educational value, and out children’s entertainment to have at least a nodding acquaintance with scientific accuracy. Is that too much to ask?