Monday, November 24, 2014

Are you having dinosaur for Thanksgiving? I hope so.

This is a little detour out of the botanical world into the zoological realm.

In three days Thanksgiving feasts are served all over USA, and on most tables there will be a turkey.   

I am going to take this opportunity to tell you all that you are about to eat a dinosaur, and that it is OK.

See, not all dinosaurs died out when the asteroid hit the Earth and the climate changed about 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous era.  One group of the dinosaurs, who already had evolved flight and feathers, evolved, speciated, and live on today as a very successful animal group, THE BIRDS.

Because of this fact, and this evolutionary history, all birds are dinosaurs.  Not all dinosaurs are birds, though.  Birds are only one of many branches on the dinosaur tree of life.
Birds and Dinosaurs
The fantastic xkcd comic maker explains how birds are dinosaurs.
(Creative Commons license, link)

Despite this now well-supported fact in biology, the idea that dinosaurs are extinct unfortunately persist in our society.  So please do your job as a accurate fact lover and take the turkey by the legs and proclaim at the Thanksgiving table to your relatives: "Let's have some dinosaur, shall we?". If nothing else, that should start some interesting family conversations.

Roasted dinosaur, aka turkey.
Creative Commons license,

Here are some more resources on this if you want to read more:
Are Birds Really Dinosaurs?
Origin of birds (Wikipedia)
Birds, the late evolution of Dinosaurs