The idea that birds are descents of dinosaurs isn’t that far-fetched. I mean, there’s evidence that some dinosaurs had wings and could fly!
In recent years, there have been speculations that chickens are related to velociraptors. So, which came first, the chicken or the dinosaur egg? Which leads to the topic of our article, are chickens related to velociraptors?
To answer these questions, we’ll examine the brief history of dinosaurs and their relationship to birds. Moreover, we’ll see what the scientific evidence suggests about the relationship between chickens and velociraptors.
How Dinosaurs Became Extinct
Paleontologists and historians have credited the extinction of dinosaurs to several hypotheses. One of these theories states that around 65-million years ago an asteroid hit the earth. The impact caused such an imbalance in the natural order of things, that it effectively wiped out all dinosaurs.
Well, almost all dinosaurs. It has been theorized that some of the smaller-sized dinosaurs managed to survive.
It was later postulated that maybe one genus of those giants might have survived the asteroid hit. Which brings us to the idea behind this article. Could those surviving genera be the ancestors of what we know as birds today?
How Birds are Related to Dinosaurs
Archaeopteryx is the earliest traced ancestor of birds, which is a mix of birds and reptiles. Which reptile? You ask. Dinosaurs!
The notion that birds are related to dinosaurs came when fossils were discovered in the 19th century. Paleontologists who discovered the fossil found that the skeleton of those Jurassic era creatures was very similar to that of the modern-day bird.
If you examine earlier eras, such as the Triassic era, you’ll find that animals with bird-like characteristics have been reported to have existed. Similarly, you’ll find that this is also the case in the later Cretaceous era, which velociraptors belong to.
Not only that, by looking at the changes of the species from one era to the next, you can track a form of evolution. It shows how as time passes these creatures have become closer in characteristics to those of birds as we know them today.
Are Chickens Related to Velociraptors?
There are many recorded species of dinosaurs, including theropods. Theropods are classified as predators and include dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptors.
Velociraptors are considered to be medium to small-sized dinosaurs of this species. They’re estimated to have been roughly the same size as a turkey.
There aren’t any velociraptors around today to compare them to chickens. At least none that we know of. Yet, we do have an alternative way to explore this hypothesis.
Scientists who have examined the discovered fossils have found evidence that supports the idea that there are many physical similarities between the two. This at least suggests that they’re related.
The Snout vs. the Beak
Snouts and beaks are pretty similar in their physical appearance, but they are different in terms of function. Found on birds, beaks are used for feeding, attacking prey, fighting, and searching for food among other things.
A snout, on the other hand, is more related to the olfactory sense. Most snouts function as a nose. However, despite the functional difference, there has been evidence that the bird’s beak may be an evolution of the velociraptor snout.
Covered in Feathers
This may come as a surprise to you, as most depictions of dinosaurs in movies and books show dinosaurs are scaly creatures. However, this is a misrepresentation as it’s believed that some dinosaurs were covered in feathers. This includes the velociraptors.
When examining their remains, paleontologists also found some points like dents in their bones. The presence of this suggests that they were covered in feathers.
It’s believed that velociraptors, much like chicken, did not possess the ability to fly. There has been some evidence that the ancestors of velociraptors did fly, but somehow along the way, their descendants lost that ability.
Velociraptors are reported to have wing-like limbs. Their wrists had a specially shaped bone that allowed them to move its arms in a motion similar to that of flapping wings.
A large number of the dinosaur species walk on two legs and velociraptors are no exception. This is also the case for birds.
Velociraptors have three-fingered claws, with impressive talons. This is similar to chickens’ feet, which also have three claws.
But, is all that enough to conclude that chickens are related to velociraptors? Let’s look at more facts.
Evidence Supporting the Relationship Between Chickens and Velociraptors
If we look at some of the scientific research, testing, and anthropological evidence available, we’ll find that most support this theory that chickens are related to dinosaurs.
Evidence Based on Fossil Findings
One of the theories supporting the idea that chickens may very well be related to velociraptors is that they evolved into the chicken.
In reference to Darwin’s theory of evolution, scientists have examined the genetic makeup of chickens, comparing them to the discovered velociraptors fossils. This led paleontologists to derive that the chicken beak is an evolution of the snout seen on reconstructed images of velociraptors.
When they examined the molecular makeup of the snout and the beak to understand how one can evolve from the other, they discovered something interesting. The beak and the snout were made of the same unique type of protein.
Evidence Based on Scientific Testing and Genetic Development
Have you heard of the Dino-Chicken? It’s ok if you haven’t, not many people have.
A group of professors led by Dr. Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, assistant professor and curator of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Yale University, is to credit for that. They set out to manipulate the genetics of chicken to create what they referred to as Dino-Chicken.
Before conducting their experiment on chickens, they first tested it on several other animals. However, none of them succeeded.
Then came the chicken, which is reported to have successfully grown a snout instead of a beak. Bhullar has even reported that the embryos grew to be healthy with no complications. The outcome ultimately showed a chicken with a dinosaur face.
This greatly supports the idea that chickens are related to velociraptors, as they were the only tested animal to accept this change genetically. Not only that, the fact that this was done with no complications or genetic resistance, does give more truth to the concept.
The team has expressed that they aren’t interested in pursuing a full-fledged creation of a new species. Due to ethical considerations, they only examined the embryos, and the eggs weren’t allowed to hatch. So, no need to worry about a real-life Jurassic Park crisis!
Are Chickens related to Other Dinosaurs?
You may be surprised to know that chickens have also been closely connected to the T-Rex!
Upon examining a recent fossil discovered in the early 21st century, scientists made an interesting discovery. They were able to identify genetic markers that are common between chickens and Tyrannosaurus.
It was stated that the unique characteristics of the Tyrannosaurus are closest to only chickens and ostriches in the whole animal species.
Isn’t it fascinating? To think that creatures that have been gone for over 60-million years can still have species surviving from their lineage still living on earth.
To say with utter certainty that chickens are related to velociraptors is beyond us. Yet, the available evidence to this fact is overwhelming.
For one thing, there are physical similarities between them. Additionally, there’s also the fact that scientists have managed to manipulate chickens to grow dinosaur parts. When you look at all the available information, you can see the proof is strong.
So, given the evidence that the genetic make-up of chickens is highly like that of a velociraptor. Not to mention that it is susceptible to being modified, we can confidently say that the probability of chickens being related to velociraptors being true is pretty high!