Did You Eat Dinosaur for Thanksgiving This Year

Paleontology on a platter . . . or IS it?!

By now the idea that birds represent the only surviving members of the once vast and diverse dinosaurian lineage has become common knowledge. Those dino nuggets on a toddler’s plate have more dinosaur in ‘em than we once thought, right? But a lot can happen to animal lineages during a 65-million-year span, so how dinosaurian was your Thanksgiving turkey after all?

Scorecard: theropod dinosaurs and modern birds are the only animals known to have wishbones, but they used them in completely different ways.

Scorecard: as Thanksgiving sometimes proves, belonging to the same lineage doesn’t necessarily translate to anatomical or behavioral similarity. Turkeys have some very undinosaurlike features, including their shoulders.

Scorecard: that we find similar structures in animals that look so radically different as brontosaurs and birds strengthens the case that they belong to the same lineage in one way or another.

—Jeff Bond

Works cited: Lipkin, C., & Carpenter, K. (2008). Looking again at the forelimb of Tyrannosaurus rex. Tyrannosaurus rex, the tyrant king, 166-189.

Bryant, H. N., & Russell, A. P. (1993). The occurrence of clavicles within Dinosauria: implications for the homology of the avian furcula and the utility of negative evidence. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 13(2), 171-184.

Nesbitt, S. J., Turner, A. H., Spaulding, M., Conrad, J. L., & Norell, M. A. (2009). The theropod furcula. Journal of Morphology, 270(7), 856-879.

Carney, Ryan M. (2016). Evolution of the archosaurian shoulder joint and the flight stroke of Archaeopteryx. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Program and Abstracts, 2016, 110.

Carpenter, K. (2002). Forelimb biomechanics of nonavian theropod dinosaurs in predation. Senckenbergiana lethaea, 82(1), 59-75.

Wedel, M. J. (2009). Evidence for bird‐like air sacs in saurischian dinosaurs. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 311(8), 611-628.