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Why Birds are Dinosaurs by Albertonykus Why Birds are Dinosaurs by Albertonykus
On Internet discussions, I often use text and cladograms to explain why birds are dinosaurs. But people often end up completely ignoring them and bringing up completely unrelated topics. Either that, or they don't even understand what I'm saying and aren't willing to confess they don't. So I put together this handy Venn diagram that is, I hope, easier to comprehend.

As we see, birds are nested inside dinosaurs, not a branch lying outside. And that's all there is to it. It's that simple.

What really baffles me is that a lot of these people aren't BAND supporters (which is, by the way, an equally ridiculous position to take) but accept that birds are of dinosaurian origin. And they often come up with completely ridiculous "arguments" to support their idea, none of which hold any water. I suppose that only shows they learn the fact but don't understand the implications.

For example, they often get confused between two clades being "related" to each other and one being "inclusive" of the other. Deinonychosaurs and avians are related to each other. They share a common ancestor but don't include each other. If you examined a deinonychosaur and an avian carefully enough, you'd probably be able to find features that distinguish the deinonychosaur from the avian. (But you'd have to look very carefully! After all, several basal deinonychosaurs were once thought to be basal avialians!) But maniraptors and deinonychosaurs have a different relationship. Maniraptors include deinonychosaurs. You can distinguish deinonychosaurs from other maniraptor clades (such as oviraptorosaurs) but it'd be impossible to distinguish between "deinonychosaurs" and "maniraptors". All maniraptors besides deinonychosaurs don't share any characteristics that deinonychosaurs themselves don't also share. This applies to birds being dinosaurs in the same way. You could distinguish birds from sauropods or ceratopsians or even oviraptorosaurs, but you won't be able to find any features that all non-bird dinosaurs share but birds do not. You can tell a dog and a cat apart, but that doesn't mean they're not both mammals. Telling "dinosaurs" and "birds" apart is as ridiculous as telling "amphibians" and "frogs" apart. It's physically and logically impossible. But can you tell "frogs" and "salamanders" apart? Certainly.

Related to the above, there's never a point where an animal stops being the member of a clade its ancestors were in. It is by definition impossible. It is impossible by evolutionary law. It doesn't even make sense logically. Microraptor zhaoianus looked a lot more like Jeholornis prima that it did to Triceratops horridus, but people who argue birds aren't dinosaurs would rather put Microraptor zhaoianus and Triceratops horridus in the same "group" and leave Jeholornis prima out. I'm completely in the dark as to how anyone could come to such a conclusion.

It doesn't matter that birds don't look like the earliest dinosaurs. Nor did sauropods or ceratopsians, but no one doubts that they are dinosaurs. I'd argue that birds look more like early dinosaurs than did sauropods and ceratopsians! Besides, the earliest vertebrates looked nothing like trout or frogs or cats, but no one doubts those animals are vertebrates.

Most other dinosaurs being extinct means nothing. There are many extinct mammal lineages, but no one doubts that there are still living things that are mammals today. There are a lot of extinct bird lineages, but no one doubts there are still living things that are birds today.

Also, birds being dinosaurs doesn't mean they stop being birds. A dog can be a canid, a carnivoran, a mammal, an amniote, a tetrapod, a vertebrate, an animal, a eukaryote, etc. "Dinosaur" simply encompasses a far larger group than just "avian".

The strangest argument is the argument from common usage. So the argument goes, no one says, "I see a dinosaur in the garden" when they're looking at a robin, so the robin is not a dinosaur. For starters, since when did common usage affect scientific terminology? A lot of people say, "'Pterodactyls' are flying dinosaurs", but does that make pterosaurs dinosaurs? No! If I saw a robin in my garden I'd most likely say, "There's a robin in my garden" instead of "There's a turdid passerine neoavian neognath neornithine ornithurine ornithothoracine pygostylian avialian eumaniraptor paravian aviremigian maniraptor maniraptoriform tyrannoraptor coelurosaur avetheropod tetanuran averostran neotheropod theropod eusaurischian saurischian dinosaurian dinosauriform dinosauromorph ornithodiran avemetatarsalian archosauriform archosauromorph archosaurian saurian diapsid sauropsid amniote cotylosaurian reptilomorph tetrapod tetrapodomorph stegocephalian sarcopterygian osteichthyan eugnathostome gnathostome vertebrate craniate euchordate chordate deuterostome bilaterian animal opisthokont unikont eukaryote organism in my garden", but that doesn't mean robins don't belong to any of those clades. Common usage is used only informally and is nothing more than a convenience. It has absolutely no bearing on the relationships between living things.

There isn't the slightest difference between saying that a sparrow is a dinosaur and that a dog is a mammal. Saying the birds aren't dinosaurs makes about as much sense as saying bats aren't mammals or ants aren't insects, that is, none at all. If you can accept that dogs and bats are mammals and ants are insects, there's no reason not to accept birds are dinosaurs.

Here's a good video that talks about the point I'm making here, this time applied to humans being monkeys. (Warning: some way into the video it discusses characteristics all monkeys share, and one of the photographs is of a monkey with a visible penis. It's only there for a few seconds, but if you're sensitive to that kind of thing...)
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:iconspongebobfossilpants:
Are you sure that birds are dinosaurs? Was there not a previously extinct fish that was caught, proving it was the oldest one?

The above was a satire of web.archive.org/web/2011112812… , which you've seen.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2014
:D
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:iconfrapt:
frapt Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014
Thank God PBS is teaching kids this. Never mind Dinosaur Train, the Wild Kratts episode "Raptor Roundup" claimed dinosaurs are still alive today as birds.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2014
That's excellent. I still need to watch that episode...
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Flagged as Spam
:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013
Troublesome, and has been for a while. Let's hope the situation will gradually improve in the future.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2013
First of all, not all feathered fossils come from China. More central to the point, hoaxes (especially ones as extreme as you appear to describe) almost never make it into the primary literature, and those that do are inevitably found out by subsequent examination. In addition, most of these fossil "hoaxes" are combined fossils from multiple specimens or have artificially embellished features; the feathers themselves are not faked. Lastly, even in the unlikely event that all feathered dinosaur fossils were fake, that would not invalidate the remaining mountain of evidence that birds are dinosaurs.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2013
I'm afraid I do not understand what you are trying to say at all.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2013
I do not. Apologies.
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:iconyoult:
yoult Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Professional General Artist
Wait... does that mean Kantaky fired Chicken?
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:iconyoult:
yoult Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
Nope, I can't watch videos in China, they're blocked.
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:iconspongebobfossilpants:
Fun fact: for want of a better place to post this; Mickey Mortimer said on the DML a few years ago ( dml.cmnh.org/2008Mar/msg00195.… ) that paravians outside Dinosauria was less likely than the traditional Carnosauria.
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:iconhybodus:
Hybodus Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2013
Thanks, for this. I think this is quite informative. I did know this already but I think this will help others to understand.
Reply
:iconnaiadme2:
Naiadme2 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
You have too much science, bro. Chillax.
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:icongojira5000:
Gojira5000 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
IMPOSSIBRU, man.

IT IZ IMPOSSIBRU TO HAZ TOO MUCH SCIENCE.
Reply
:iconnaiadme2:
Naiadme2 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
But I have science class! with geology! I DONT NEED THIS!
Reply
:icondotb18:
DOTB18 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013
You've just given me the perfect method to demonstate to David Peters that his understanding of reptile phylogeny is completely wrong. Thank you.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013
You're welcome, but good luck with that. :D
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:iconphil-boswell:
Phil-Boswell Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
This is such an interesting diagram: I would love to see more layers on the outside of this, including for example crocodiles and other reptiles, extinct and not.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
Thanks! I've run out of space on the page I drew this on, but as multiple people have asked for something like that I might draw a new one that includes all that info.
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:iconpie-lord:
pie-lord Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
im sorry but i just can't say birds are dinosaurs i agree they have relations to dinosaurs but they are their own species like reptiles can also be relations to dinosaurs but they are their own species.

altho i have heard worse one guy thinks dinosaurs are related to dragons and that the bird and modern reptile theory is wrong.

anyway im not gunna hate bash you for your opinion and i hope you dont bash me for mine im just telling you how i feel.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
Opinion doesn't matter here, I'm afraid. Birds being dinosaurs is good as established fact. As I've explained here, "related to" is the wrong term for describing the relationship between birds and dinosaurs. It's true that birds are related to other types of dinosaurs, but they're not related to dinosaurs in the sense that they are a discrete group outside of Dinosauria; they're simply a branch of dinosaurs themselves. Similarly, dinosaurs are not "related to" reptiles as two distinct entities, but are a type of reptiles themselves. Incidentally, "bird" and "reptile" encompass thousands of species; they don't describe just one.
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:iconpie-lord:
pie-lord Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
anyways i dont wanna argue with you i just realised how out of hand this could get real easy cos we are not going to change our minds so how about we agree to disagree and both just love dinosaurs and their world in our own way eh?

and sorry for bein a smart ass with the opening line to my reply but i just took a grump because your remark about opinions not mattering pissed me off because i didnt say your opinion was false and threw facts in your face.

anyways thats it i wave a white flag to you and bow out of this but feel free to throw any dino related vids my way im open to a good doco or two :3
Reply
:icongojira5000:
Gojira5000 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh yes, REAL mature of you to chicken out like this. "I DUN WANNA ARGUE WIT U!" screams stuck-up. I already featured your comment in a journal, so you can't delete your comment and protect yourself, either.

Also, it's called looking good. You seem to lack this. You need to capitalize and, most important of all, PUNCTUATE. It's hard on the brain to have to read something something like this, where all of the sentences are lacking in breaks for the eye and mind to process such information. This is why respected scientists and people with jobs often post their documents or posts with proper grammar, spelling and capatalization.

Also, for an artist of your level, you should at least try to type proper English instead of chatspeak. Tis no gd 4 artist, k?

I'm not trying to bash my opinion into you, before you use that, this is point-blank factual. I may be coming off as harsh, but you can't just bawl and say "BIRDS AND DINOSAURS ARE ONLY RELATIVES, THEY ARE SEPARATE!" without expecting to get called out on it. Alb's given you enough information, but this is from someone who has had enough of this. Also, blaming things on "oh, i wuz PO'd" isn't going to make anybody go "Aw, it's OK, you're right." It only serves to make you seem even more of a fool. I could rank you with wolfaboos, but that would be harsh.
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:iconabekowalski:
abekowalski Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Dude, you're being a complete asshat. The guy doesn't want to make an argument out of it, don't be a dick because he prefers pacifism.
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:iconpie-lord:
pie-lord Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
No you were not harsh.
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:iconsupercj:
SuperCJ Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
He's not "chickening out" just because he doesn't want to argue. He said in his first comment that he was just stating his opinion and did not want to get wrapped up in a huge argument.
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:iconpie-lord:
pie-lord Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
well then techs wouldnt dinosaur's be fish since the original first land critter came from the ocean?

and humans are not related to monkies we are related to apes.
just cos somethin shares a family tree does not make it something else thats like wolves are not a chihuahua and a tabby cat is not lion and how mites share the same family as spiders but they are not spiders.

and it is a matter of opinion just because you and a scientist say because of their family history they are a dinosaur does not mean everyone else and every other scientist is going to say oh yes indeed.

my opinion is they are birds, i know they have dino roots just as dinosaurs have their roots in the sea but i am not going to say that a dinosaur is a fish just because its ancestor was a fish. there has to be a line where something evolves past just being its ancestor and becomes its own creature.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
"Fish" is just a term for any vertebrate that is not a tetrapod. While it could potentially be given a phylogenetic definition, such a group would be redundant because it already includes the same thing as the already established clade Vertebrata, and dinosaurs are considered vertebrates.

We are related to monkeys. We are also related to dogs, trout, cycads, and bacteria. All living things are related. Cats are not descended from lions and mites are not descended from spiders, so they aren't considered to be inclusive of one another. This is where it's appropriate to use the phrase "related to". Birds being dinosaurs is not analogous to such situations.

Again, it's not a matter of opinion. "Dinosaur" has a set definition that is agreed upon by researchers who study the subject and can be objectively evaluated to see whether something fits that definition or not. Also, it's not "me and a scientist" who is saying that birds are dinosaurs, it's essentially every dinosaur paleontologist in the world. It doesn't matter what "everyone else" thinks. They're the ones who define the terms.

Birds being dinosaurs doesn't mean they aren't birds anymore. They still are. Just like how bats are bats, but they are also still mammals. There is no such thing as a "line" that divides anything from a clade it arose from. That's why whales are still considered mammals even though they are now extremely different from the ancestral mammal, why sauropods are still considered dinosaurs even though they were extremely different from the ancestral dinosaur, why elephants are still considered eukaryotes even though they are extremely different from the ancestral eukaryote, and so on.
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:iconpie-lord:
pie-lord Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Fair enough.

I know I have quite firmly lodged my foot in my mouth here and no matter how much I either kiss ass or fight or agree, I have already made a fail.

The best I can do here is accept your facts and leave.
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:iconlollipop3455555555:
lollipop3455555555 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014
That is a good idea, Sir.
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:iconspongebobfossilpants:
In the case of people like [link] & :iconcrysaleyes:, you should put a bubble labeled "Crocodylomorpha"... A bubble that is very far away from Dinosauria.
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:iconsupercj:
SuperCJ Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
That link made me laugh at one of the comments left. It said a bunch of garbage in reply to a comment by crocodile basically explaining the workings of cladistics and the person completely ignored or misunderstood it and instead backed up a previous commenter who made a very eloquent but ignorant comment about how Neanderthals are the ancestors of modern humans.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012
That would be a good idea if this didn't already take up the entire sketchbook page.
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:iconspongebobfossilpants:
Is Aves used to refer to the crown group here?
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
I left it ambiguous intentionally.
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:iconspongebobfossilpants:
Speaking as a converted BANDit, I have to say this is very good.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2011
Thanks!
Reply
:iconsagittariussigner:
sagittariussigner Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011  Hobbyist
I'm not a BAND supporter as I'm not a wolf-loving Wolfaboo. I likes your information about the fact of birds among in dinosaurs clade.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
Thank you.
Reply
:iconspongebobfossilpants:
"The stuff in that link is just epic fail. A perfect example of the problem I described here."

To be fair, it's more BANDit idiocy than what you described. You know, it would be nice if you elaborated on why the BANDits are wrong in a future work. Just a thought.
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2011
I do plan on doing a blog post on the BAND eventually.
Reply
:iconspongebobfossilpants:
SpongeBobFossilPants Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2011
First of all, this is so perfect for my scenario it hurts: [link] Secondly, herrerasaurs are therpods now?
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:iconalbertonykus:
Albertonykus Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2011
By the way, if those people want input from actual paleontologists on birds being dinosaurs, see [link] and [link]

Nice to see my stuff being quoted, by the way, thanks!
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:iconspongebobfossilpants:
SpongeBobFossilPants Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014
By the way, I've since resubmitted the teaser with the Naish link as a reference. This was their rationale for rejecting it again:

"Your teaser relies on evolution which is a theory and not fact. We cannot accept such a teaser."

Just when I thought they couldn't get any stupider.
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