Monday, September 2, 2013

Birds and Dinosaurs

There is an increasing discussion about the connection between Dinosaurs and birds.  While some may just be learning about this, this theory has definitely been making the rounds.  After all, weren't velociraptors just "six foot turkeys" according to Jurassic Park?  Still its hard to imagine the connection between:

This Stegosaurus
This Great Blue Heron
(C) Me, Rocky Hill, CT

Yet, the fact of the matter is that Birds and Dinosaurs seem to share a common link and it is easy to ignore those.  After all, how much can a T-Rex be like those lovely Cardinals coming to our feeders day after day. But the basic truth is that the birds around are tiny dinosaurs.  But this idea helps me to see how amazing nature can be and how incredible the world before us is.  What follows are how this information has changed the way I see birds and the world around me.

First, I now know that the forms and adaptations around me are ancient.  The Turkey Vulture's large olfactory nerve is only small when compared to the T-Rex's.  A Duck's bill shares a similar shape to several dinosaurs found in the fossil record.  A Great Blue Heron sharp reflexes have to have something in common with the dinosaurs of the past.  When I see birds today, I see amazing creatures that share something in common with distant creatures.

The Second thing I think about is the world we lost.  With the wide-range of birds around us what kind of dinosaurs are we missing?  We have several duck-billed dinosaurs, dinosaurs that share forms with dolphins, what else was there?  Was there a woodpecking dinosaur?  And what about the future of birds?  What can future generations expect if their diversity today and their diversity in ancient worlds is as rich as we think?  Better get out birding to figure it all out!

Some Ducks with their Bills and a Gull

Was there a Woodpecking Dinosaur?

American Museum of Natural History - Link
NBC News - link
National Geographic - link

Coming Soon - Hawk Watch! Fall Migrants! and Waterfowl!

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