Topic questions

1. What are the diagnostic characters of modern birds that might be preserved in the fossil record?

2. Compare these characters to those present in non-avian theropods.

3. What characters point to eumaniraptoran theropods as good candidates for the ancestry of modern birds?

4. Why did the ancestor of birds have to have been cursorial if one goes back far enough?

5. Why is it that we no longer think feathers evolved for flight? Does this mean that they are unrelated to flight?

6. How did bird flight evolve?

7. Why are bird bones hollow and pneumatic?

8. Should Archaeopteryx be considered the ancestor of modern birds? It has a mix of non-avian and avian theropod anatomy, so what can be said about its relationships to the actual ancestor of all birds?

9. If we were unable to resolve the discrepancy between the paleontological and the embryological identifications of the fingers in a bird's carpometacarpus, would this in any way affect the hypothesis that birds are dinosaurs? Why?

10. If Archaeopteryx had never been found, would we be able to tell that birds are dinosaurs? Support your answer.

11. During bird evolution, how did the wing evolve? Was a whole new wing structure required, or were all the pieces - as well as the correct proportions - there already?

12. Why is the question, "What is a bird?" a difficult one to answer? What kinds of data would go into your answer to this question?

13. Formulate a thoughtful answer to the question "What is a bird?"

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