Asked by: Steve Barron, Northumberland
They did! Dinosaurs evolved into modern birds and some of them are extremely intelligent. In Japan, there are crows that have learnt to use the traffic to crack the shells of nuts that they drop – and they will wait for the lights to turn red, so they can safely retrieve them.
One reason that birds still aren’t as intelligent as humans is that a heavy, energy-hungry brain doesn’t mix well with birds’ main adaptive advantage – flying. It’s important to realise that intelligence isn’t the goal of evolution, nor is it always the best adaptation to the environment. The enormous sauropod dinosaurs lasted on the planet for 100 million years, despite their tiny brains. We’ve had ‘intelligence’ for just a few million years, so it’s too early to say whether it is a better strategy.