There are many similarities between dinosaurs and birds. Paleontologists have found fossils of feathered dinosaurs that were much like birds in the early Jurassic period. Archaeopteryx was one of these species. It had a long tail, wings, and over 50 feathers (almost 10 cm [3 inches] long). The first bird specimens ever discovered had very close features with some dinosaurs – skeletons that look like tiny Velociraptors and teeth resembling a Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Paleontologists believe that if an archaeopteryx had not already evolved into a bird, it might just as well have become the ancestor of T-Rex instead due to their similarities!
Dinosaurs have holes called “quadratojugal” and “quadratojugal foramina” that are found in the skull. These holes have been so far only found in birds; no other reptiles or mammals have them!
Scientists also discovered that at least some dinosaurs had a jaw joint that allowed the lower jaw to move up and down while the rest of it remained still, just like most birds do today.
Further proof lies in their hip structure. In addition, the ostrich has features in its legs that indicate very similar structures to those of dinosaurs (see image).
In fact, experts believe birds inherited these characteristics from their dinosaur ancestors because they both have two-toed feet. To answer why there were such close similarities between many species of bird and dinosaur is difficult, but scientists have come up with several theories.
Paleontologists believe that birds and dinosaurs shared a common ancestor, who lived during the late Triassic period, approximately 200 million years ago. During this time, there was probably a huge explosion in the Earth’s population of species. It’s possible that many of these species did not survive, possibly due to poor weather conditions or food shortages.
Birds are attributed as surviving by feeding on small insects found in rotting vegetation on the ground (just like modern-day predatory birds) because they could reach them before other animals, such as mammals or reptiles, could get there.
The earliest known bird specimen so far discovered (referred to as “Protoavis” when identified in 1996) had teeth and clawed fingers and may have been able to walk rather than fly.
Still, the first creatures (or ancestors of birds) that were small enough to develop flight would have had a massive advantage over their rivals; they could fly away from danger instead of running away. It is possible that these early flying dinosaurs competed with feathered gliders and creatures similar to pterodactyls, as seen in modern-day Southeast Asia.
Over millions of years (perhaps even when the continents shifted), some species evolved into types better suited for sustained flight – ending up with today’s birds. Other species remained on the ground or took to trees and became part of modern animal life. Scientists theorize that following the breakup of Pangea, many birds spread quickly, reaching every continent in the blink of an eye, different species developing independently from one another due to distance and geographical barriers.
Paleontologists believe it took about 60 million years for the first actual bird (Archaeopteryx) to appear.
Dinosaur And Bird Similarities in a nutshell
- A theropd dinosaur and a bird have similar skull structures.
- Dinosaurs had holes in their skulls called “quadratojugal” and “quadratojugal foramina” that are only found in birds today.
- Birds have a jaw joint that allows the lower jaw to move up and down while the rest of it remains still, just like most dinosaurs.
- Dinosaurs would lay eggs; birds lay eggs as well. Fossils show that embryos in both dinosaur and bird fossils are very similar, with some species looking alike!
- Both animals have three-toed feet; Scientists believe birds inherited this characteristic from their dinosaur ancestors because they both have three-toed feet.
- They probably had a common ancestor during the late Triassic period, approximately 200 million years ago.
- Birds and dinosaurs both had hip structures that indicate very similar structures to those of dinosaurs.
- Some dinosaurs had feathers.
Birds evolved over millions of years from small meat-eating dinosaurs, as shown through studies. However, the exact relationship between dinosaurs and birds is not well understood, and there are many ideas about what dinosaur species were most related to birds. The basis for this study was to test the hypothesis that birds were descended from maniraptoran dinosaurs (dinosaurs with large claws on their wings) such as deinonychus. Deinonychus has many bird-like characteristics, including hollow bones, feathers, a wishbone, and air sacs in its skeleton.