Chickens are constantly called living dinosaurs. Why aren’t Bats, Snakes, Apes ,Turtles…mostly all animals called living dinosaurs if there were versions of that same animal walking the earth millions of years ago?



Chickens are constantly called living dinosaurs. Why aren’t Bats, Snakes, Apes ,Turtles…mostly all animals called living dinosaurs if there were versions of that same animal walking the earth millions of years ago?

In: Biology


It’s not that there were chickens walking alongside dinosaurs, it’s that modern birds (including chickens) are *literally* the descendants of dinosaurs. The extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous Period killed *most* of the species of dinosaurs that lived at the time, but the surviving species of that extinction event were what are called the “avian” or bird-like dinosaurs. Those surviving dinosaurs evolved over the past 65 million years into all of the bird species that we have today.

You take something like apes on the other hand (including humans!) and, sure, we had ancestors at the time of the dinosaurs – early mammals who survived the extinction event and evolved over millions of years into modern apes and humans, alongside other mammalian species. But if you trace the family tree of chickens back, their ancestors 66 million years ago didn’t just live alongside dinosaurs, they were *actual* dinosaurs!

Because chickens and birds are actually directly descended from dinosaurs while mammals are descended from rat like things that lived alongside dinosaurs, and other reptiles are cousins of dinosaurs

>Why aren’t Bats, Snakes, Apes ,Turtles

Because they’re not descended from dinosaurs and birds are.

Because the other answers did not make this explicit, I want to point out that chickens being descended from dinosaurs also means they *literally are* dinosaurs. Dinosaurs weren’t a thing that ended. They are the group of organisms which share a particular common ancestor, and chickens qualify exactly as much as ankylosaurs or utahraptors.

When people say chickens are dinosaurs, they’re not just being cute, they’re being completely accurate.

If this is at all confusing, it’s the same as how we say humans are apes, primates, mammals, vertebrates, eukaryotes, etc. We are all these things. They are just categories at different levels of grouping. Like how Paris is in France and Europe and on Earth all at once.

The mighty Chicken is the closest living relative to the lowly Tyrannosaurus Rex, believe it or not

Easy. You can only use chicken meat to make dinosaur-shaped nuggets. Hence, dinosaur descendants.




Others have already pointed out most of the explanation, but let me try to add something that may have been missed.

You seem to be confusing two different terms people sometimes use the term “living fossil” to describe types of animal that a barely seem to have changed in appearance for millions of years.

Chicken are not usually considered living fossils.

A completely different idea is concept of dinosaurs.

The definition of dinosaurs includes all descendants of the first dinosaur. Birds are in that category.

When scientist want to talk about just the dinosaurs that people normally think of as dinosaurs they say “non-avian dinosaurs”. “aves” means bird, so that means “non-bird dinosaurs”.

Since chicken are birds and birds are dinosaurs and chicken are alive, chicken can be called living dinosaurs.

The ancestor of modern chicken that was around when all the other dinosaurs went extinct looked enough like living fowls to be recognizable as such but not similar enough to justify calling chicken living fossils.

Dinosaurs are a specific animal that lived a long time ago. Not all animals that lived in the time of the dinosaurs, were dinosaurs.

Chicken come from dinosaurs. These animals you listed come from other animals that lived long ago

Not everything that lived during the time of dinosaurs were dinosaurs. Mammals and other types of animals did exist alongside dinosaurs.

Because birds are theropods, a type of dinosaur.

Bats are mammals, not dinosaurs. Apes are mammals too.

Turtles are anapsids.

Snakes are diapsids and so are birds. However, they are separate subcategories of diapsid. Birds are just the only extant animals within the dinosaur subcategory.