, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 248-256
Date: 16 Apr 2009

Downsized Dinosaurs: The Evolutionary Transition to Modern Birds


Living birds are the most diverse land vertebrates and the heirs of a rich chapter in the evolution of life. The origin of modern birds from animals similar to Tyrannosaurus rex is among the most remarkable examples of an evolutionary transition. A wealth of recently discovered fossils has finally settled the century-old controversy about the origin of birds and it has made the evolutionary saga toward modern birds one of the best documented transitions in the history of life. This paper reviews the evidence in support of the origin of birds from meat-eating dinosaurs, and it highlights the array of fossils that connect these fearsome animals with those that fly all around us.