As you know, we here at GoobNet frequently invite you to stump our very own “Dynamite Eating” Edvard van de Kamp. It has proven difficult over the years, even when we present him with more and more difficult topics such as literature, American football, and even baseball.
But this week, we decided to give him a topic that is much closer to his area of expertise: birds. We took your questions about birds and submitted them to Edvard, and his responses were interesting to some degree. We now present these responses for you to read and review.
Dear Edvard: My friend and I were talking about dinosaurs. She said, “You know, dinosaurs are birds.” I was like, “What are you talking about? Dinosaurs are, you know, dinosaurs.” And she was like, “Yeah. They’re dinosaurs, but biologically, they’re classified as birds.” I was like, “No they’re not!” She was like, “Then what are they? They’re not reptiles.” And I was like, “Yeah, they’re not reptiles, but they’re not birds either. They’re their own thing.” Which of us is right? Are dinosaurs birds, or are they their own thing?
– Carina Gironi
Simi Valley, CA, USA
Dear Carina: There is still quite a bit of debate on this subject, but dinosaurs are definitely closer to birds than reptiles. Reptiles are characterised by legs that extend out to the sides, whereas dinosaurs, like birds, have legs beneath the body. Here at the museum, we have updated many of our exhibits to depict birds as theropods, which fall within the clade Dinosauria. According to this system, you are both right: dinosaurs do have their own clade, but it also contains birds. Indeed, it is more accurate to say that birds are a type of dinosaur.
Dear Edvard: I heard the velociraptor is actually called Deinonychus. Is that true?
– Jennifer Jodturon
Caine, UT, USA
Dear Jennifer: No, Velociraptor and Deinonychus are separate genera, though they both fall within the family Dromaeosauridae. The confusion likely stems from Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park, which features a dinosaur species that is referred to as a velociraptor. However, the dinosaur actually described is Deinonychus; the actual Velociraptor was significantly smaller.
Dear Edvard: Were there dinosaurs that had duck bills?
– Baker Albobae
Atlantic City, NJ, USA
Dear Baker: Yes, dinosaurs with duck bills existed. They have been classified into the family Hadrosauridae, containing genera such as Hadrosaurus, Edmontosaurus, and Tsintaosaurus. Some species of dinosaurs with duck bills survive today; they are known as “ducks”.
Dear Edvard: Am I a dinosaur?
– Kyle Lowry
Toronto, ON, Canada
Dear Kyle: No, you are a human. You merely play professional basketball for a team that is named after a dinosaur.
Dear Edvard: Why do dinosaurs exist?
– Sue Ann Mbata
London, England, UK
Dear Sue Ann: The earliest dinosaur genus currently known, Eoraptor, first appeared about 230,000,000 years ago, in the early Triassic period. During the remainder of the Triassic, dinosaurs became more prominent as many other animals, such as the early archosaurs, became extinct.
Dear Edvard: Why don’t dinosaurs exist any more?
– Kingsley Collins
St Petersburg, FL, USA
Dear Kingsley: They still exist. Birds survived the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period, and there are many avian species that survive to this day.
Dear Edvard: What caused the extinction of the non-bird dinosaurs? Was it an asteroid impact, or volcanoes?
– Joanie Paber
Ogden, UT, USA
Dear Joanie: There is still quite a bit of debate on this subject. I think it was a combination of multiple factors, including the impact at Chicxulub, which has been dated to about 66,000,000 years ago, the same time as the extinction event that ended the Cretaceous period. At about the same time, the Deccan Traps in India formed in a series of volcanic eruptions, and the sea level appears to have fallen. Scientists can’t agree as to which one of these caused the Cretaceous extinction, or even whether any single one could have on its own. I believe that all of these events contributed to the extinction event.
Dear Edvard: Am I a dinosaur?
– Jason Smith
New Orleans, LA, USA
Dear Jason: No, you are a human. You merely play professional basketball for a team that is named after a dinosaur.
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