Everyone knows that dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago… or did they?
Yes, there absolutely was an asteroid impact that struck the Yucatán and led to the annihilation of the biggest land animals that ever walked the Earth, but it's important to remember that it didn't kill off all life on land. Without the largest dinosaur apex predators, the post-extinction environment made it possible for the smaller animals to thrive and take advantage of newly-vacant niches. Mammals, who were quite small during the time of dinosaurs, found this particularly helpful as they were able to grow and diversify relatively rapidly.
However, as this video by It's Okay To Be Smart explains, there were many smaller species of dinosaurs that were able to survive the mass extinction. Like the mammals, they spent the last 65 million years filling vacant roles in the environment and had the opportunity to evolve in a variety of incredible ways. Their evolution included minor changes to bone structure, higher brain power, and more useful feathers, but the animals we know and love as birds are actually living descendants of creatures that were around during the Cretaceous period. That's a heck of a family tree.
The implications of this are pretty awesome: if you had eggs for breakfast or a turkey sandwich for lunch, you can honestly say that you have eaten dinosaur. And who doesn't want to do that?
Learn more about the living dinosaurs that we now call birds here:
[Images credited to: It's Okay To Be Smart]