The Origin of Birds

A complete understanding of birds requires that we consider their long history on Earth, looking back many millions of years.

September 19, 2020

Listen to the Episode

The Origin of Birds


Learn about the deep evolutionary origin of birds and follow their history up to the great extinction that happened 66 million years ago.

First, I discuss what we mean when we say “bird.” What characteristics separate modern birds from other animal groups?

Then I discuss the evidence—both historical and recent—that scientists have used to determine the evolutionary history of birds. 

Finally, we arrive at the answer of where birds fit on the tree of life.

Research Citations

Errors and Clarifications

Error - 05:39 min: I say that scientists have genome sequences for 'all living birds.' What I meant was that we have genome sequences for representative species within each of the living bird families.

This work by Ivan Phillipsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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