Birds = Dinosaurs, and Other Survivors of K-T Extinction | AMNH (2024)

Not all dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.

Avian dinosaurs—in other words, birds—survived and flourished. Museum scientists estimate that there are more than 18,000 bird species alive today. A variety of other species also survived on land, including frogs, snakes, lizards and mammals.


Birds = Dinosaurs, and Other Survivors of K-T Extinction | AMNH (2)


Alligators & Crocodiles: These sizeable reptiles survived—even though other large reptiles did not.

Birds: Birds are the only dinosaurs to survive the mass extinction event 65 million years ago.

Frogs & Salamanders: These seemingly delicate amphibians survived the extinction that wiped out larger animals.

Lizards: These reptiles, distant relatives of dinosaurs, survived the extinction.

Mammals: After the extinction, mammals came to dominate the land. An early relative of all primates, including humans, survived the extinction.

Snakes: Although a number of snake species died out around 65 million years ago, snakes as a group survived.

Turtles: Of the known species of turtles alive at the time of the dinosaurs, more than 80 percent survived.

Feathered Dinosaur

An avian dinosaur—an ancient flying bird—lived about 85 million years ago in what is now Kansas. Birds are living dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction event 65 million years ago.

Reptiles & Amphibians

Frogs survived the mass extinction, even though many are now endangered because of habitat destruction. Lizards and snakes, both distant relatives of dinosaurs, also survived.

Mini Mammal

The mammals alive at the time of the mass extinction event were typically quite small. One such mammal was roughly the size of a modern opossum, one of its living relatives.

Birds = Dinosaurs, and Other Survivors of K-T Extinction | AMNH (2024)


Did birds survive the KT extinction? ›

Birds: Birds are the only dinosaurs to survive the mass extinction event 65 million years ago. Frogs & Salamanders: These seemingly delicate amphibians survived the extinction that wiped out larger animals. Lizards: These reptiles, distant relatives of dinosaurs, survived the extinction.

What is the KT extinction short note? ›

KT extinction stands for Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction. This is a global extinction event that witnessed the elimination of about 70% of the species living on the earth within a very short time 65 million years ago. This mass extinction is known as KT extinction.

What is the evidence for the KT extinction? ›

A meteorite big enough to be called a small asteroid hit Earth precisely at the time of the K-T extinction. The evidence for the impact was first discovered by Walter Alvarez and colleagues. They found that rocks laid down precisely at the K-T boundary contain extraordinary amounts of the metal iridium (Figure 18.1).

What is the branch of birds called that survived the KT mass extinction event 66 million years ago? ›

Four distinct lineages of bird survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago, giving rise to ostriches and relatives (Palaeognathae), waterfowl (Anseriformes), ground-living fowl (Galliformes), and "modern birds" (Neoaves).

How did birds survive but not dinosaurs? ›

Some scientists think not having teeth is what allowed these birds to survive. Fossils of early toothless birds show they were able to eat more plant-based food – specifically nuts, fruits and seeds. This meant they relied less on eating other animals than birds with teeth did.

Could dinosaurs survive today? ›

Many of them probably could survive today. Dinosaurs ruled the world for 150 million years, and endured hot and cold spells, volcanic eruptions, and changing sea levels. There is nothing about today's world that would be fatal to them.

Did any dinosaurs survive the K-T extinction? ›

The surviving group of dinosaurs were avians, a few species of ground and water fowl, which radiated into all modern species of birds.

How much life died in the K-T extinction? ›

— Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid the size of San Francisco crashed into a shallow sea off the coast of modern-day Mexico and plunged the world into an extinction event that killed off as much as 75% of life, including the dinosaurs.

What if the K-T extinction never happened? ›

Evolutionary paleontologist Simon Conway Morris believes that if dinosaurs hadn't gone extinct, Troodon would likely have evolved in the same direction as primates or humans, eventually becoming intelligent “dinosaurs.” Although dinosaurs are extinct, we have recreated the behemoths of the dinosaur age in various ways.

How hot was the K-T extinction? ›

Therefore, Melosh and colleagues estimate surface heating of perhaps 10 kilowatts per square meter for several hours, comparable with the heating in a domestic oven set at Broil. This radiant heat then generated global wildfires that allegedly left soot in the K-T boundary sections.

How big was the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs? ›

The impact site, known as the Chicxulub crater, is centred on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The asteroid is thought to have been between 10 and 15 kilometres wide, but the velocity of its collision caused the creation of a much larger crater, 150 kilometres in diameter.

What event killed the dinosaurs? ›

To explain what caused this mass extinction, scientists have focused on events that would have altered our planet's climate in dramatic, powerful ways. The leading theory is that a huge asteroid or comet slammed into Earth 65 million years ago, blocking sunlight, changing the climate and setting off global wildfires.

Which dinosaur is still alive? ›

Birds are the only direct descendants of theropod dinosaurs. In an evolutionary sense, they're the closest thing we have to living dinosaurs. The theropods — which include the Tyrannosaurus rex, velociraptor and other dinosaurs — were a diverse group of bipedal carnivores.

What extinct bird was found after 140 years? ›

Researchers have rediscovered the elusive black-naped pheasant pigeon - and caught it on camera for the very first time. A rare bird last spotted 140 years ago has been found in Papua New Guinea, delighting researchers. The black-naped pheasant pigeon was last documented by scientists in 1882.

What bird went extinct and came back? ›

The flightless Aldabra rail went extinct 136,000 years ago when its atoll home sank beneath the waves. Then it evolved again.

Why did birds survive the K PG extinction? ›

Today there are at least 11,000 bird species. But with such a close relationship to the extinct dinosaurs, why did birds survive? The answer probably lies in a combination of things: their small size, the fact they can eat a lot of different foods and their ability to fly. Watch the animation to find out more.

What birds survived the Cretaceous extinction? ›

The end of the Cretaceous boasted an entire array of birds and bird-like reptiles. But of these groups, it was only the beaked birds that survived. The happenstances of evolution had given birds a lucky break, the key events set in motion long before the asteroid struck.

What bird species was saved from extinction? ›

Those that the study identified as having been successfully saved from extinction are the Alagoas antwren (Myrmotherula snowi), the Alagoas curassow (Pauxi mitu), the red-billed curassow (Crax blumenbachii), the Lear's macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) and the Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii).

How did some animals survive the K-T extinction? ›

"The animals that got through the extinction survived basically just by not being too specialised," says Shelley. For instance, the Didelphodon (the cat-sized carnivorous marsupial relative) preyed on animals that were few and far between after the extinction. "It specialised too much and lost its niche," says Shelley.


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