Dinosaurs Survive!

Part of the Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries exhibition.

Not all dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.

Avian dinosaurs—in other words, birds—survived and flourished. Museum scientists estimate that there are more than 18,000 bird species alive today. A variety of other species also survived on land, including frogs, snakes, lizards and mammals.


Scarlet Ibis

Alligators & Crocodiles: These sizeable reptiles survived—even though other large reptiles did not.

Birds: Birds are the only dinosaurs to survive the mass extinction event 65 million years ago.

Frogs & Salamanders: These seemingly delicate amphibians survived the extinction that wiped out larger animals.

Lizards: These reptiles, distant relatives of dinosaurs, survived the extinction.

Mammals: After the extinction, mammals came to dominate the land. An early relative of all primates, including humans, survived the extinction.

Snakes: Although a number of snake species died out around 65 million years ago, snakes as a group survived.

Turtles: Of the known species of turtles alive at the time of the dinosaurs, more than 80 percent survived.

Feathered Dinosaur

An avian dinosaur—an ancient flying bird—lived about 85 million years ago in what is now Kansas. Birds are living dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction event 65 million years ago.

Reptiles & Amphibians

Frogs survived the mass extinction, even though many are now endangered because of habitat destruction. Lizards and snakes, both distant relatives of dinosaurs, also survived.

Mini Mammal

The mammals alive at the time of the mass extinction event were typically quite small. One such mammal was roughly the size of a modern opossum, one of its living relatives.