BTW--I'd like to thank XKCD for beautifully putting into images what I've tried to say for years (being a bit of a paleogeek, if (alas) not an accredited paleontologist)...
Birds are dinosaurs. Birds are specifically theropod dinosaurs which are dinosaurian bat-analogues (or, if one wants to get a bit more pedantic, pterosaur-analogues--to give proper props to their just-somewhat-more-related-to-crocodilians-than-to-the-dinosaur-clade cousins).
What happened to the Dinosauria et al is basically what things would look like if (in a future extinction event) every single mammal clade went extinct except for the bats
(and then megabats diversified into ground-runners and a single flying-fox descendant whilst microbats diversified into bat-duck and bat-sparrow and bat-hawk and bat-phorusracid analogues).
Pretty much most folks (except for a VERY few hangers-on among ornithologists...cough cough ahem Martin cough Feduccia cough ahem) agree that in a perfect cladistic diagram we'd have sunk Aves into the Theropoda pretty much from the point we recognised Archaeopteryx
was a perfectly servicable dromie or extremely close dromie relative, and definitely after we started realising that damn near ever major theropod clade has some featherbutts in it and even some of the non-theropod, about as far as you can get from "theropod" and still call it a frickin' dinosaur
clades had dinofuzz too.
(And to make things even worse--we're also pretty darn sure that dinofuzz is probably an ancestral trait of the Mother of All Archosaurs nowadays; pterosaurs were actually the first Dead Critters to be found to have dinofuzz, and it's widely suspected that the ur-crocodilians (which were generally VERY upright and small and cute and very warm-blooded) were also fuzzy (most of the "primitive" traits of modern crocs like not being entirely homeothermic and a lower stance and a three-chambered heart are actually evolutionary adaptations
to being primarily a water predator and being essentially an archosaurian sea-lion-analogue--specifically as energy-saving measures). If the image of mantling, fuzzy dromies breaks people's brains (as comic 1104 notes) I can only imagine what the image of a small, cute, fuzzy, FAST little croc about the size of a dog must do
And I'd dare argue that at least some
surviving theropod dinosaurs haven't exactly ever forgotten that their closest paravian kin were Deinonychus
, and Troodon
(and in fact, some of the colouration that's been recently found with preserved feathers of dromaeosaurs and troodonts really
drives the point home; Anchiornis huxleyi
(a troodont) may well have had feather colouration not unlike that of modern woodpeckers and a number of dromies and dromie-kin (Microraptor
most famously, and possibly Archaeopteryx
itself) had colouration not unlike modern ravens or (especially) grackles)...it's even now thought that the big dromies (like Deinonychus
essentially did "mantling" not dissimilar to modern (non-dromie) raptors, so they even share hunting styles to an extent (with the minor difference being that the average broadwinged hawk or peregrine falcon is rather better at falling without hitting the ground than your average dromie).
And yes, I agree--this IS a Good World because of this, and made a bit more awesome. (Of course, it also does lend to the inevitable question as to what kind of modern dinosaurs that ancient dinosaurs tasted like...did, say, hadrosaur taste more like chicken or more like duck or more like ostrich (which basically resembles very lean beef)? As for most of the theropods...unless one is talking oviraptors or the ostrich-mimics, I'd expect the taste to be "inedible and making about as much sense as trying to make a meal out of a hawk"...unless you're talking the really small (and cute) theropods that mostly ate bugs and such. I, for one, would not
recommend the tyrannosaur cutlet (whether you consider them to have been full-on predators or living a lifestyle akin to hyenas with about a 50/50 mix of hunting and scavenging).)