Birds are Dinosaurs: Simple Answer to a Complex Problem

  title={Birds are Dinosaurs: Simple Answer to a Complex Problem},
  author={Alan Feduccia},
  • A. Feduccia
  • Published 1 October 2002
  • Environmental Science, Geography
Richard Prum's (2002) rancorous, unreviewed essay on the theropod origin of birds is a one-sided view of a difficult problem, full of anatomical misconceptions that are highly misleading, and advocates that (p. 13), "it is time to abandon debate on the theropod origin of birds." His article is essentially a restatement and defense of a current dogma of paleontology-that birds are living dinosaurs, directly descended from, or having shared common ancestry with, one of the most highly derived and… 

A short history of research on Archaeopteryx and its relationship with dinosaurs

Abstract Archaeopteryx, first discovered in 1861 from the Solnhofen lithographic limestone of Bavaria, is the oldest feathered animal in the fossil record. Since its discovery it has been the focus


  • R. Prum
  • Biology, Environmental Science
  • 2003
It is concluded that one of the most important frontiers in ornithological research in this century will be the establishment of a thorough scientific understanding of the evolution of avian biology in light of the theropod origin of birds.

Rhetoric vs. reality: A commentary on “Bird Origins Anew” by A. Feduccia

A review of the full complement of facts pertaining to the avian origins debate is provided, motivated by a Perspectives article with numerous factual inaccuracies, to address the misplaced criticisms raised in that opinion paper.

The origin and early evolution of birds: discoveries, disputes, and perspectives from fossil evidence

  • Zhonghe Zhou
  • Environmental Science, Geography
  • 2004
Significant size and morphological differences and variation in flight capabilities, ranging from gliding to powerful flight among early birds, highlight the diversification of birds in the Early Cretaceous.

A pre-Archaeopteryx troodontid theropod from China with long feathers on the metatarsus

The extensive feathering of this specimen, particularly the attachment of long pennaceous feathers to the pes, sheds new light on the early evolution of feathers and demonstrates the complex distribution of skeletal and integumentary features close to the dinosaur–bird transition.

ReviewTracing the Evolution of Avian Wing Digits

A comprehensive analysis of both paleontological and developmental data suggests that the evolution of the avian wing digits may have been driven by homeotic transformations of digit identity, which are more likely to have occurred in a partial and piecemeal manner.

Fossils with Feathers and Philosophy of Science

It is demonstrated that a variation of Imre Lakatos’s model of progressive versus degenerative research programmes provides a novel and productive assessment of the debate, and established that a refurbished Lakatosian account both explains the intractability of the dispute and predicts a likely outcome for the debate about avian origins.

A Basal Alvarezsauroid Theropod from the Early Late Jurassic of Xinjiang, China

A more complete early specimen is described, dating to about 160 million years ago, which supports the conclusion that Alvarezsauroidea are a basal group of the clade containing both birds and their close theropod relatives and confirms that this group is a basal member of Maniraptora.

Hypothesis: Avian flight originated in arboreal archosaurs gliding on membranous wings

The oldest feathers known to date have been found in archosaurs capable of flight. However, some of them (scansoriopterygids) flew by the use of a membrane rather than feathers. We therefore propose




G. Heilmann (1926) concluded that birds had evolved from ‘‘thecodonts’’—a polyphyletic garbage bag assemblage of early archosaurs, and his hypothesis was the basis of many scenarios.

Archaeopteryx and the origin of birds

Analysis of the five presently known skeletal specimens of Archaeopteryx confirm the conclusions (long rejected by most subsequent workers) of Heilmann (1926), Lowe (1935, 1944, 1944) and Holmgren (1955), namely, that the skeletal anatomy of Archaeipteryx is extraordinarily similar to that of contemporaneous and succeeding coelurosaurian dinosaurs.

The origin and early evolution of birds

There is no evidence for a major or mass extinction of birds at the end of the Cretaceous, nor for a sudden ‘bottleneck’ in diversity that fostered the early Tertiary origination of living bird ‘Orders’.

The Origin of Birds and of Avian Flight

I do not discuss pterosaurs, lizards, and mammals as possible ancestors because they have never enjoyed serious support as bird relatives and I have not discovered anything to make me think that they deserve any.

The origin and evolution of birds

Ornithologist and evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia, author of "Age of Birds," here draws on fossil evidence and studies of the structure and biochemistry of living birds to present knowledge and data on avian evolution and propose a model of this evolutionary process.

The origin and early diversification of birds

Numerical cladistic analysis of 73 cranial and postcranial characters has resulted in a highly corroborated hypothesis describing the phylogenetic pattern of early avian evolution. Using “non-avian

Scleromochlus taylori and the origin of dinosaurs and pterosaurs

A reanalysis of crown–group archosaur relationships confirms the split into Crurotarsi (crocodile relatives) and Ornithodira (bird relatives), as well as the clear division of Ornithadira into Pterosauria and Dinosauromorpha.

The smallest known non-avian theropod dinosaur

This is the first mature non-avian dinosaur to be found that is smaller than Archaeopteryx, and it eliminates the size disparity between the earliest birds and their closest non-Avian theropod relatives.

Origin of Birds: The Final Solution?1

The purpose of this paper is to examine both the philosophic principles and the practice of cladistic analysis upon which the dinosaur-bird link is currently based, and to concentrate the search for real avian ancestors in the Late Jurassic.

On How an Archosaurian Scale Might Have Given Rise to an Avian Feather

The homing ability of the neotropica~l bat Phyllostomus hastatus, with evidence for visual orientation, and the random element in bird navigation are studied.