School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM Ghost Machine

An Example: from dinosaurs to birds

This is part of the Meta-Morphogenesis project:

A recent news article announced that

"Scientists finally decode how dinosaurs turned into birds and learned how to fly" -- a somewhat over-enthusiastic summary of this article:

S.L. Brusatte, G.T. Lloyd, S. C. Wang and M. A. Norell, (2014) Gradual Assembly of Avian Body Plan Culminated in Rapid Rates of Evolution across the Dinosaur-Bird Transition, Current Biology, 24, pp. 1--7,},

The Current Biology paper says nothing about learning or indeed any development of information-processing, referring only to "a ready source of data for examining trends in anatomical evolution across the dinosaur-bird transition". If this project (the M-M project) has its expected influence future research will emphasise the need to identify trends in information processing capabilities, including modifications of forms of representation and modes of processing of information involved in vision, in control of airborne motion, types of planning required for identifying possible trajectories and landing places, and in some cases construction of nests in trees and other high places. It is arguable (as Karl Popper suggested in 1976) that the formation of new sorts of motives and plans has to precede morphological and behavioural evolutionary changes. This could involve changes in the information processing architecture to cope with new complex high speed decision-making. See: Popper (1976) and Popper (1977)

As the figure below indicates: there were far older changes in requirements and mechanisms for information-processing in the much earlier evolutionary transitions between different kinds of microbes, and from microorganisms onwards.

Changing information processing
requirements and capabilities

For more on the concept of information used here, and the varieties of information processing in biology, see another document.
Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham