Birds: Living Dinosaurs

Part of the Fighting Dinos exhibition.

Nesting Oviraptor Fossil

The fifth section of the exhibition examined the links between dinosaurs and birds, the continued search for more evidence to support this link, and the origin of feathers. A Velociraptor and a new nesting oviraptorid were on display, providing more evidence of the dinosaur/bird relationship.

In the view of most paleontologists today, birds are living dinosaurs. In other words, the traits that we accept as defining birds -- key skeletal features as well as behaviors including nesting and brooding -- actually arose first in some dinosaurs. Most intriguing, and debated, is the evidence of feathers and featherlike structures on these dinosaurs, as seen throughout this exhibition.

The best explanation for the presence of these shared characteristics is that they existed in a common ancestor, from which both dinosaurs and birds are descended. As more fossils help fill in gaps in the bird-dinosaur family tree, scientists are reassessing their understanding of the origin of birds and acknowledging that the boundary is blurred between modern birds and their dinosaur ancestors.