Theropod Dinosaurs: The ancestor of modern birds?

Present scientific findings show that birds came from a group of theropod dinosaurs during the Mesozoic era.

What are theropods?

By definition, theropods are a suborder of dinosaurs that are determined by their hollow bones and three-toed limbs. They are referred to as bipedal carnivores with grasping hands and sharp claws.

According to the scientific consensus, birds do belong to a group of therapod dinosaurs during the Mesozoic Era (around 231 million years ago). The close relationship between birds and dinosaurs was founded after the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany during the nineteenth century.

The earliest generation of post-dinosaur age birds possesses common traits of prehistoric theropods. Similarities include having feathers and egg-laying traits. However, prehistoric birds are not capable of powered flight, and mostly relying on their two powerful legs.

Are birds, dinosaurs?

Julia Clarke, a Paleontologist, specializes in studying the evolution of flight, and a professor at the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas, believe that birds are Dinosaurs.

Birds are firmly rested in that one part of the dinosaur tree. All of its species are descendants of one lineage of dinosaurs, the theropods.

The birds we have today are covered with feathers from tail to head, unfused shoulder bones, shorter hind limbs, toothless beaks, and a bony plate called pygostyle. Some features are present with their prehistoric counterparts, but only modern birds possess all those at once.

However, primitive birds are found to resemble more the non-avian dinosaurs as compared to modern birds. These early birds are said to be very similar to dinosaurs for having long reptilian tails, teeth, and claws.

Paleontologists make use of precise measurements in bone variations and fossilized body tissues to distinguish animal groups. The data is then translated into numbers, which are being processed by algorithms to determine which family, group, or genre a subject belongs to.

Root of ancestry

The earliest bird discovery was said to live 150 million years ago, and it is called the “Archaeopteryx.” Its fossil remains showed that it was covered with feathers on its tail and body. Its forelimbs and feathers suggest that the primitive bird is capable of powered flight, similar to modern birds.

Next was the fossil of birds during the Cretaceous Period, just a few years after the period of Archaeopteryx. These fossils are in northeastern China, which is why they called the creature Confuciusornis. It also resembles the features that prehistoric dinosaurs and modern birds have in common.

With approximately 10,000 bird species today, all of which belong to the same group of theropod dinosaurs.

So if you are wondering how dinosaurs look like, just go over the window and watch the birds around you and imagine them to be overgrown and with pointy claws.