Many paleontologists believe that feathered dinosaurs were a part of the change from dinosaurs into more birdlike species. Many paleontologists were well aware that dinosaur species such as the Archaeopteryx had many traits which have also been observed in birds.
Because of this, many believed that birds are the descendants of dinosaurs. The discovery of feathered dinosaurs in the 1990s added even stronger evidence to support this theory. At this time most paleontologists agree with this theory, and the genealogical details are currently being researched.
In 1859, after Charles Darwin published his landmark book “Origin of The Species,” an English biologists named Thomas Huxley proposed the concept of birds being related to dinosaurs. He noted the similarities between skeletons, and also studied the fossils of Archaeopteryx which had many strong saurian traits. By 1868 he published a work on this idea, and worked hard to explain it.
However, for the next 100 years this idea fell out of the limelight, until 1964. In 1964 a paleontologist named John Ostrom made a groundbreaking discovery. He found the fossils of a dinosaur species named Deinonychus. Like the Archaeopteryx, this dinosaur to had many saurian characteristics. The dinosaur was a theropod, and this gave stronger evidence to the ideas presented by Huxley 100 years earlier.
John Ostrum believed that birds were the descendants from dinosaurs, and quickly published his findings. More studies begin to be conducted between the skeletal remains between dinosaurs and birds, and based on the neck features, wrists, and pectoral girdle, the evidence was virtually inconclusive. Today at least 100 different anatomical features have been found which birds share with dinosaurs.
The first feathered dinosaur discovered which has given strong evidence to this idea is the Archaeopteryx, which was found in 1861 in Germany. It was seen as being what is called a “transitional fossil,” and caused strong debates between proponents of creationism and evolution.
Link Between Dinosaurs and Birds
Because these dinosaurs had feathers, many believe they are the “missing link” between dinosaurs and birds. Despite this, the skeletal evidence is also very important, and the flight patterns of these animals are very complex. A recent fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex has added strong evidence of the dinosaur/bird link. Like birds, the T.rex had a what appeared to be a medullary bone.
The embryo of many dinosaurs are found to have no teeth, and this is further evidence that they would have to be raised in a nest type environment which is similar to how birds treat their young today.