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Finally An Explanation Of How Dinosaurs Turned Into Birds And Learned To Fly

Update Date: Sep 29, 2014 01:17 PM EDT

Dinosaurs did not evolve into birds in one swift transformation, but through one small step at a time, suggests a new study. 

The study, that pieces together the most comprehensive family tree ever constructed of the group of animals, explained the gradual transformation. 

The study added that once the evolutionary changes such as wings developed over the course of tens of millions of years, dinosaurs quickly developed into thousands of new bird species. 

"It's basically impossible to draw a line on the tree between dinosaurs and birds. [But, once the first avians evolved], something was unlocked, and [birds] began to evolve at a supercharged rate," said Steve Brusatte, paleontologist from the University of Edinburgh and co-author of an article announcing the findings.

The study examined more than 850 body features in 150 species of extinct birds and dinosaurs. 

"It is particularly cool that it is evidence from the fossil record that shows how an oddball offshoot of the dinosaurs paved the way for the spectacular variety of bird species we see today," Graeme Lloyd, another co-author of the study and a paleontologist at the University of Oxford, told the press.

The study was detailed in the journal Current Biology. 

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