Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dino-Birds 101...

Here's a nice, comprehensive overview of the current state of dino-bird science, although I didn't notice any reference to Jack Horner's current ideas about dino-dna still being present in the modern bird genome.

Part of the reason so many ordinary people doubt the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds is because when they think of the word "dinosaur," they picture enormous beasts like Brachiosaurus and T. Rex, and when they think of the word "bird," they picture harmless, rodent-sized pigeons and robins (and perhaps the occasional eagle or penguin).

Closer to where the action is, though, the visual referents are a lot different. For decades now, paleontologists have been digging up small, birdlike theropods (the same family of two-legged dinosaurs that includes tyrannosaurs and raptors) bearing unmistakable evidence of feathers, wishbones, and other avian anatomy. Unlike larger dinosaurs, these smaller theropods tend to be unusually well-preserved, and many such fossils are found completely intact (which is more than can be said for the average sauropod).

Check out the article here: Dino-Birds - The Small, Feathered Dinosaurs.

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