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Bio-bullets

Are birds really avian dinosaurs?

It is not feathers but a short bony tail that makes birds distinct from their reptilian ancestors.

professor caricatureProf. Mumblebard claims: "Birds are part of the same clade as dinosaurs, particularly Deinonychus and Velociraptor. It’s now beyond doubt that theropod dinosaurs possessed many anatomical features previously assumed to be exclusive to birds. These include feathers, hollow bones, air sacs and unidirectional lungs. All these affinities overwhelmingly show that birds are living dinosaurs in disguise." 

logoRobin and the Honey Badger respond: "Birds may be descendants of a primitive theropod but this does not mean that birds are theropod dinosaurs or even dinosaurs in any sense. Originating from an ancestor is not the same as being that ancestor. Evolution is about one organism evolving from another, not one organism remaining another. For example it’s now accepted that snakes evolved from primitive lizards but it would be absurd to claim that snakes are lizards, and nobody has done so. Similarly, equating birds with dinosaurs does not stand up to scrutiny because the anatomy has changed categorically in the transition. Bipedal dinosaurs kept balance by using a long, bony tail as a cantilever to the forequarters. By contrast, no bird has such a cantilever because all birds have a short, unrecognisably modified tail skeleton. Indeed, the reduction of the avian tail consistently distinguishes birds, living and extinct, from all dinosaurs. This transformation of the spine brought a revolution in locomotion, with vertical instead of horizontal oscillation around the centre of gravity. The product of this evolutionary innovation was Aves, which remains valid as a separate class notwithstanding its dinosaurian origins. With their exclusive combination of feathers and a short bony tail, birds are no longer any of their ancestral forms, whether fish, amphibian, archosaur, theropod, tetanuran, or coelurosaur. Instead of remaining dinosaurs, birds deserve to be distinguished by both conventional taxonomy and cladistic phylogeny. In fact, birds are birds, not dinosaurs."

 

Please join us here at the Bio-edge with your own comments. In the discussion below we encourage links to any evidence supporting either Prof. Mumblebard or Robin and the Honey Badger. Illustrations are welcome but please cite all sources or we may be forced under copyright to delete your comment.

Are birds really avian dinosaurs?

Last modified on 17 July 2015

Comments   

0 #1 Ornithophile 2014-02-10 08:33
Birds are deceptive I suppose. They have long tail feathers and that makes the tail look as long as a dinosaur tail in some birds. But as you say long feathers aren’t really the same thing as a long tail skeleton. So you really think that makes such a big difference to the whole way the animal keeps its balance?
0 #2 Ornithophile 2014-02-10 09:26
These experts are definitely not shy to go on the record that ‘birds are dinosaurs’
Is this a bit of a fad and are people going to be embarrassed they said this when theyreold and grey? Sorry, cheeky thought.
0 #3 Biodiver 2014-02-10 09:43
Interesting. I wonder if it’s proven that all birds balance differently from a bipedal dinosaur when hopping or running. Does it count how birds balance when they’re swimming? It’s interesting to think that some birds like swifts, are so specialised for flying that they can’t even really stand on their feet.
0 #4 Gronbek 2014-02-10 09:59
Sounds like being contrary for the sake of stirring people up. Yep, the current consensus that birds are dinosaurs comes from cladistics, not old-style classification. Yes, science progresses and cladistics is what we’ve moved to these days. Evolve and get with the program ‘Robin and the Honey Badger’!
0 #5 Ornithophile 2014-02-11 14:19
Check out this sci-cartoon xkcd.com/1211/ I think the author of the comic is quite sincere but I sometimes wonder if palaeontologist s are really objective like they think they are. 
0 #6 Wildman 2014-02-11 15:44
I always thought there was something a bit sus about the ‘birds are dinosaurs’ meme but I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. Thanks, R & HB
0 #7 Redfern 2014-02-13 15:09
Birds are dinosaurs, thats the way it is and what’s not to like? This blog post tells it straight.
paleocave.sciencesortof.com/.. ./...
0 #8 Ornithophile 2014-02-14 17:00
Have you heard about the Chickenosaurus? I recommend this TED talk by the renownedJack Horner, specially times 09:29 and 13:58 Not to get personal here, but he does contradict himself a bit.
0 #9 Gronbek 2014-02-14 17:02
@Ornithophile: Bah humbug , you’ve swallowed the whole thing.
0 #10 M. R. Zeman 2014-02-14 17:03
Who knew, take textbook ‘facts’ with a pinch of salt.
0 #11 Biodiver 2014-02-14 17:06
I found this interesting video
It shows the tail getting shorter when dinosaurs turn into birds.It doesn’t work in the case of Archaeopteryx though. They call Archaeopteryx a bird but its got a longish tail.
0 #12 Cladman 2014-02-14 17:07
This ‘bio-bullet’ on birds and dinosaurs is by pretend experts. I’ve been studying fossils for 30 years and the hard evidence is that birds evolved from a feathered dinosaur in the Mesozoic. It’s pretty settled.
0 #13 Biodiver 2014-02-14 17:08
What do Robin and the Honey Badger say re Archaeopteryx then? Is it really a bird or is it a dinosaur or is it both a bird and a dinosaur?
0 #14 S. Glynn 2014-02-14 17:10
@Dr Cladman, please I’m studying and I don’t follow why birds are the same as dinosaurs just because they came from feathered dinosaurs. I’m doing a big project on bird origins at the moment, so I’m not expert but I’d really like to know. So can I just ask something. If birds are dinosaurs is it also true that because snakes evolved from a short-legged lizard in the Mesozoic that snakes are lizards too. If you’re eating dinosaur when you eat chicken than if someone gets bitten by a rattlesnake is it a case of death from lizardbite? Please dont get me wrong, I’m not being funny I just want to get the facts straight.
0 #15 Ornithophile 2014-02-14 17:11
This fossil bird from the Cretaceous shows that even primitive birds had reduced tails quite different from the tails of all dinosaurs including Archaeopteryx. Its name is Liaoxiornis and it belongs to the Subclass Enantiornithes of Class Aves. This means that real short-tailed birds did coexist with dinosaurs. The picture is at PePeEfE (Creative Commons)

0 #16 Stuhlman 2014-02-14 17:12
Some food for thought here but where’s the evidence? Is this an evidence based site or just speculation?
0 #17 Johns 2014-02-14 17:16
Have you seen this infographic suggesting that a dinosaur could be retrieved from the domestic fowl by genetic engineering:

0 #18 Gargantuan 2014-02-14 17:19
Here’s a nice clear shot showing that even large flightless birds have an extremely modified tail skeleton, shorter than in any dinosaur, no comparison really. It’s the skeleton of a modern emu (Dromaius). I found it on Sklmsta (Creative Commons),
0 #19 Dinogeek 2014-02-14 17:20
Give us lots of interesting stuff about dinosaurs, Honey Badger and Robin.
0 #20 Dinogeek 2014-02-18 14:02
This picture shows that the lungs and air sacs etc of birds and dinosaurs were similar. Dinosaurs didn’t just have feathers they had similar respiratory anatomy to birds too.

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