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Are Chickens Dinosaurs?

Since about 1964, there’ve been all kinds of buzz about birds being related to dinosaurs (particularly since some feathered dinosaurs have been found). But what about Chickens? Are chickens dinosaurs?

Many researchers believe that evidence suggests chickens, as a subset of “birds” are, in fact, modern-day dinosaurs.  Birds are related to the Tyrannosauroid subgroup of dinosaurs, emerging on the scene just after the Jurassic Period into the Cretaceous Period. 

Details Matter

an archeologist working during the night

This research areas need to pay attention to the finer details of archeological findings rather than simply taking hold of broad-brush assumptions.

When painting with a broad brush, one could say that chickens are directly related to Tyrannosauroidea.

That statement above makes it almost sound like this is a unique genetic relationship between chickens alone and Tyrannosauroidea. This isn’t the case at all, as different sub-groups of birds in general share that relationship- not merely the chicken.

Due to some of these broad-brush assumptions, there is a lot of misleading information out there on this subject. Bearing that in mind, let’s move forward and go through some questions about the topic.

Are Chickens Related to Velociraptors?

velociraptor on white background

If you’re wondering whether or not chickens are related to a velociraptor and plan on looking into it, you’ll soon realize that there is no concrete answer. What you’ll find are people giving a definitive “yes,” a classic “no,” and a lot of “might, maybe, could-be, probably not.”

Chickens are not classified as raptors, though owners can testify that they exhibit raptor-like behavior. They share similarities in size, they’ve both got wishbones, some would argue shape (such as three-toed feet) and plumage, but the trail ends there as far as specifics. 

Studies only confirm that there is a relation to birds and dinosaurs, not necessarily specific signatures between breed to breed, or species to species. Eagles, falcons, hawks, and vultures are a handful of examples of raptors.

What are Chickens Descended From?

red junglefowl standing on the ground

Chickens are directly descended from a bird called the Red Junglefowl, more specifically, the Southeast Asian Red Junglefowl.

However, research has concluded that the chicken may be a product of hybridization between the Red Junglefowl, Grey Junglefowl, and last but not least, the Green Junglefowl.

INTERESTING QUESTION:  Are Chickens All Females? 

How are Chickens and T Rex Related?

chicken with question mark and t-rex on white background

Though it’s visually assumable that chickens are related to Velociraptors, evidence under the microscope suggests that chickens are more closely related to the T-Rex. At least that is the current belief and stance held by many archeologists, scientists, and researchers.

In 2003, scientists Jack Horner and Mary Schweitzer were able to retrieve a small number of unfossilized materials nestled inside an enormous T-Rex femur that needed to be sawn in half for transport. The protein “collagen” is the primary molecule that was able to be identified and studied.

fibroblast and collagen

However, collagen does not qualify as a concrete DNA type of sample. DNA breaks down too quickly to be examined after millions of years, leaving researchers wanting DNA evidence of evolutionary history.

But what they could do with the collagen was to identify similarities between modern-day species and the T-Rex of old. Above, I spoke about having to pay attention to details, and here is where it becomes important.

The collagen Miceas compared to collagen present in humans,  in the list and 20 types of animals. Mice, chimps, salmon, ostriches, and alligators are on the list.

The most closely related species were chickens and ostriches, with the next (and somewhat distant) runner up being alligators.

Here’s the problem…

Due to this study, many people take the position that chickens and ostriches are more closely related to dinosaurs than anything else. There are more out there, so how could there be anything definitive?

Read on… concerning the study


ostrich and chicken on white background

Concerning the study, the samples were selected as representatives of animal group types. Ostriches and chickens are barely related, having little in common, but the relationship between plenty of birds (except for flight) is between the two.

The study reveals the relationship that exists involves birds as a whole, through the chicken and the ostrich. It isn’t meant to suggest that out of every creature, chickens are most closely related to dinosaurs, T-Rex specifically.

Chicken vs T-Rex Skeleton Comparison

t-rex skull and a bird skull on white background

Comparing the skeletal structures of the chicken and the T-Rex doesn’t reveal too much.

The chicken looks like a chicken and the T-Rex a T-Rex.

However, not so evident to the casual observer, is that there is one thing bringing the skeletal structure of the T-Rex into bird territory. The T-Rex had a wishbone.

Another outstanding feature is the structure of the feet, toes in particular. Therapod dinosaurs including the T-Rex, all have three-toed feet arranged on the leg in such a way to allow them to stand on 2 feet rather than four- just like chickens and is also a T-Rex’s skeletal structure comprises things you can’t tell via visual comparison. The T-Rex’s skeletal system includes a hollow bone structure like birds.

What Birds are Closest Related to Dinosaurs?

9 types of birds on brown background

From feathers, collagen, and shape, to skeletal similarities, birds as a general group of animals are all considered to be closely related to dinosaurs. No one bird is separated or more related than others-they all are.

However, they are not related to all dinosaurs. As far as today’s data is concerned, all birds are descendants of therapods specifically, rather than every flavor of dinosaur that was around at the time.

Some scientists are even pushing the envelope on this subject, claiming that dinosaurs are not, nor have ever been, fully extinct. Birds are taking up the mantle of not only being related to dinosaurs but are being deemed as living dinosaurs!

Final Thoughts

2 scientists in a laboratory

Some scientists say that chickens are more closely related to Velociraptors than the T-Rex, others say the opposite. There is still a faction holding on to the reptilian theory, that many types, if not all, dinosaurs were reptiles, while others are beginning for more “warm-blooded” ideas.

Fog of time. That is the most formidable foe for figuring out how things are and what they are today. There are no staples or facts in this area of study, and what you find are seemingly endless hypotheses, assumptions, theories, and revisions.

Because of the lack of observable evidence (there’s no T-Rex running around out there to observe and report upon and no flesh and blood subject to examine), things switch up as discoveries are made and technology advances.

That’s not to say that today’s information isn’t accurate. It could be that there will be discoveries made to validate some of the theories out there- the Jack Horner discovery for example.

But there are so many trains of thought on the matter and interpretations of the evidence at hand when it boils down to relationships such as the T-Rex and the chicken, only time will tell which will stand and which will become extinct.

RELATED ARTICLE:  How High Can Chickens Fly?

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