"Scientists began to think in the 19th century that birds might have evolved
from dinosaurs, when the 150-million- year-old fossil skeleton of
— which we now know was capable of short bursts of active
flight — turned up in a German quarry.
The Victorian biologist Thomas Henry Huxley observed the bony-tailed, feathered
fossil’s striking resemblance to small dinosaurs like Compsognathus
proposed that it was a transitional form between flightless reptiles and birds.
Huxley’s theory fell out of favour until the last decades of the 20th century,
when a new generation of palaeontologists returned to the similarities between
the metabolisms and bird-like structures of dinosaur fossils and birds, and
there is now a consensus that birds are avian dinosaurs. That the birds with
which we share our lives are the descendants of the hollow-tailed, meat-eating
theropods is a true wonder that never fails to thrill me.
Birds, like us, are survivors. They escaped the Cretaceous-Paleogene (or K-Pg)
mass extinction event 65 million years ago: the fifth and last great dying in
the history of our planet, until the Sixth Extinction taking place around us
Share and enjoy,
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics