In a new paper published in Nature Communications, scientists explain how tracing the roots of dinosaur DNA led them to a wild conclusion: Birds are, in fact, just modern day dinosaurs. “We think it generates variation. Having a lot of chromosomes enables dinosaurs to shuffle their genes around much more than other types of animals,” Professor Darren Griffin said. “This shuffling means that dinosaurs can evolve more quickly and so help them survive so long as the planet changed.”
Using the DNA of the closest living relatives of dinosaurs, including birds, the team hit the rewind button, tracing the genetic changes backwards in order to ultimately arrive at dinosaurs. What they believe they’ve discovered is that much of the DNA of modern birds was also shared by ancient reptiles, meaning that the two are even more similar than scientists could have possibly guessed.
Obviously, we don’t see birds today that have bone-crushing jaws or massive armoured plates. It’s clear that evolution has pushed them in a new direction, perhaps due to the incredible changes that took place on Earth over a very short period of time. Those environmental factors doomed many species, but not all of them. Birds you see today are actually the ancestors of the ones that survived.
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