Sometimes you hear people talk about chickens as if they are little dinosaurs. Is your chicken really a tiny T-Rex? How closely related are they anyway? It doesn’t take too much imagination to envision your backyard flock as a small dinosaur herd. Is that even accurate?
How Chickens Are Related To Dinosaurs
Well, it turns out that chickens and dinosaurs DO have shared DNA. Protein sequences that were found in a T-Rex leg bone showed many similarities to modern day chickens. They also have a very similar bone structure.
For a long time it was assumed that dinosaurs were most closely related to reptiles, however, the first feathered dinosaur fossil was found in 1996. Dinosaurs used feathers as insulation before they used them to fly. The fossil records indicate that quill like feathers developed well before flight feathers.
The dinosaur Archaeopteryx is related to both the Velociraptor and T-Rex. It appears to be very birdlike, except it had teeth. Generally it’s assumed that modern day bird beaks are actually two bones in the snout that have evolved in place of teeth.
You can also see some shared family resemblance in their embryonic development. Chicks develop a tail in the egg that disappears before they hatch. And the skulls of modern birds are very similar to the shape of embryo dinosaur heads.
What many people assumed happened is that bird species became more diverse after dinosaurs went extinct, however, chicken and turkeys underwent fewer changes. The dinosaurs that survived did so because becoming more miniature was helpful.
So in a way you do have some tiny dinos in your backyard. Chickens ARE related to dinosaurs!
Next time you have visitors stop by to admire your flock, you can let them know they are looking at a little bit of living history. And maybe you have a newfound appreciation for the awesomeness of chickens. 🙂
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