Are Birds Related To Dinosaurs?

Birds are descendants of a group of dinosaurs called the Theropods. The Theropods, a group of three-toed dinosaurs that had two legs and a body structure that held feathers, are widely believed to be the ancestors of modern birds.

What are Theropods?

The Theropods are a class of dinosaurs that had the distinctive features of being bipedal with three toes and reptilian hips. This class has the most diverse range of species. Some known theropods are the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor, and Spinosaurus.

The Theropods first appeared in the late Triassic period about 230 million years ago, with the earliest known genus being Eodromaeus.  Over time, theropods evolved and diversified into multiple clades, such as Tawa, Velocipes, and Neotheropoda.

While many theropods are known for their large size and fearsome appearance, some were relatively small and may even have had feathers or other bird-like characteristics. And by about 100 million years ago, nearly all of today’s bird species had evolved from a small group of theropods called the Avetheropoda, or bird theropods.

How are Birds related to theropods?

Birds share similarities in body structure, features, and behavior with theropods. For example, both share a similar body structure with two legs, feathers, and more.

Theropods are believed to be the ancestors of modern birds for several reasons. For one thing, the fossilized remains of many extinct Theropod species have been found with feathers or evidence of feathers on their bodies.

Despite their shared ancestry, theropods and birds are still distinct organisms today, with birds having evolved a number of adaptations to suit their unique lifestyles. For example, while some theropods had sharp teeth and long tails for hunting, birds developed beaks and wings to help them survive in their ever-changing environment.

How did birds survive the dinosaur extinction?

Birds manage to find food, and with their small size, they are able to survive on food that is less abundant. Additionally, birds can fly and escape predators and dangers more easily than other animals. As a result, even though many dinosaurs went extinct during the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 65 million years ago, they continued to thrive over millions of years, eventually giving rise to birds through a process called evolutionary convergence. Modern birds have flourished and become one of the most successful groups of animals on Earth today.


Evidence suggests that birds are indeed dinosaurs.  Despite their many physical and behavioral differences, birds are believed to be the direct descendants of a group of dinosaurs called the Theropods. Birds have faced various difficulties over their evolutionary history, but they continue to be one of the most adaptable and widespread animal groups on Earth.

Theropods Featured Image by: PaleoNeolitic (montage creator), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons