why are turkeys said to have evolved from dinosaurs?

Turkeys, along with all other birds, are considered descendants of dinosaurs because of their evolutionary lineage. This idea is supported by extensive research in paleontology and comparative anatomy.

Birds are part of the group Archosauria, which also includes crocodiles and dinosaurs (non-avian dinosaurs, like T-Rex). Dinosaurs themselves are divided into two major groups: Saurischians (lizard-hipped) and Ornithischians (bird-hipped), but it’s the theropod subgroup within the saurischian dinosaurs that gave rise to modern birds.

Modern birds, including turkeys, share many features with theropod dinosaurs such as:

  1. Skeletal Structure: The skeletal structure of birds shows similarities to certain therapods, particularly in the layout of the bones in the hand, with three forward-pointing fingers, and the presence of a furcula (wishbone).
  2. Feathers: Fossil evidence has shown that feathers evolved first in dinosaurs before birds appeared. Many small theropod dinosaurs had feathers or feather-like structures, and this feature is critical for flight in modern birds.
  3. Fused Clavicles: The fusion of clavicles to form a furcula is another trait shared between theropod dinosaurs and birds.
  4. Other Features: Other similarities include a modified forelimb for flight, a keeled sternum for the attachment of flight muscles, and the arrangement of neck vertebrae.
  5. Genetic Evidence: Molecular studies have also supported the dinosaur-bird link, showing that birds are the only living descendants of theropod dinosaurs.

So, while turkeys didn’t directly evolve from the iconic, large-bodied dinosaurs we often think of (like Triceratops or Stegosaurus), they do belong to a lineage that traces back to smaller, carnivorous, feathered theropods that lived during the Mesozoic Era. Over millions of years, these theropods evolved into the diverse array of avian species we see today, including our Thanksgiving turkey.

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