Birds are dinosaurs.
When people say that birds aren’t dinosaurs, I go from Elissa Sursara to Alan Grant incredibly quickly. Birds are most certainly living dinosaurs. In fact, they're theropod dinosaurs (or dinosaurs with three toed limbs) and they’re walking, nesting and flying amongst us every single day.
Achaeopteryx is the first bird-like dinosaur we know of, and the similarities between it and extinct dinosaurs are truly mind blowing. You’ve got hollow bones, gastroliths, skeleton formation, nest building, brooding behaviours, the morphology of their lungs and hearts, the way they sleep, how they reproduce, how they care for their babies, and literally millions upon millions of units of data from our molecular records.
So next time you see a bird, perhaps a vulture or a cassowary, remember you’re in the presence of a modern day dinosaur, and, as Dr. Alan Grant would tell you (if you were the sarcastic kid at the start of the best movie franchise ever), “try to show a little respect."
Left: I photographed this cassowary in Port Douglas, Queensland.