Are birds dinosaurs? The short answer to the question is No.
To be very specific, there are various studies that claim “birds are NOT related to dinosaurs, but they ARE the dinosaurs”.
Well we can say that birds have evolved from dinosaurs themselves. But because of that, you can’t call birds as dinosaurs.
Today the birds are the living copies of the evolution process that has happened over the duration of millions of years.
Did dinosaurs become birds? (AKA – Are birds dinosaurs?)
Technically speaking, a dinosaur did not become a bird all of a sudden one fine morning.
There were various stages of evolution that happened over the duration of millions of years.
The evolution happened in the two legged dinosaurs called the therapods. The famous dinosaurs that we know namely the T Rex and Velociraptors belong to the therapods family.
However, T. Rex dinos are huge and birds didn’t directly evolve from them, but from the smaller therapods.
During the Jurassic period which is about 201 million years ago, the dinos held a terrific place in the animal kingdom.
And there were lots of different species of them.
The Therapods in particular, had lots of features that compare themselves to birds – large snouts, and big teeth (that later evolved to beak) and small area between the ears.
For example, a Velociraptor has a brain about the size of a Pigeon and skull like a Coyote.
Archaeopteryx is the only hybrid creature that we have ever found that has the features of both dinos and birds and they are kind of midline in the evolutionary phase.
They have feathers and wings like birds but also teeth and a long bony tail like the dinos.
And unlike the birds of today, Archaeopteryx had individual claw-like fingers at the tips of its wings.
But interestingly feathers were developed in dinosaurs, long before birds! Birds have just adopted the feathers and have put them to good use.
It is found that the avian features took very long to develop in dinosaurs.
In the evolutionary process, for about tens of millions of years, birds still had teeth and clawed wings.
Birds have the ability to fly and they require wings to do so.
The stiffened structure in birds that supports the feathers of the wings is evolved from the small bones in the hands of the non avian dinos.
Birds are definitely much smaller than dinosaurs. But they look a lot like dinosaur embryos.
Considering what has happened in the name of evolution over millions of years, we can safely say that birds are not dinosaurs.
But dinosaurs have shrank and evolved into birds.
But why should dinos shrink to become birds?
Why not become any other members of the animal kingdom?
Well, after the extinction of dinos, except one category, evolving into birds was much easier, as the kind of dino that was left back had a lot of features that compare with birds.
Second, birds have the ability to fly and they can survive by eating a variety of stuff. Plus birds are smaller.
These traits have turned out to be advantageous as far as survival is considered.
The interesting thing is that, in this huge evolutionary process, nothing big has changed .
There has not been a dramatic genetic change as well. The process has just picked up existing traits (genes) and has just changed its control.
This is proof of how a simple regulatory change can make a major impact.
Hence in this whole process, there is nowhere you can draw a line to separate the different stages of evolution.
The process is so seamless and beautiful.