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Flying Dinosaurs

Prabhakar Pillai
Did you know that birds are actually thought to have evolved from dinosaurs? This story enlists some ancient fliers and predecessors of modern birds.
Dinosaurs are a clade of reptiles that existed during the Mesozoic Era, i.e., around 65 to 230 million years ago. Their sizes varied from the diminutive Anchiornis, 34 cm long and weighing just 110 grams, to the massive Argentinosaurus, more than 20 m long and weighing more than 60 tons.
Their diet was diverse; much like the modern classification of animals based on diet, some dinosaurs were herbivores, some were carnivores, some were omnivores and some were specialized scavengers. Likewise, some were strictly terrestrial, some were aquatic, and some had developed adaptations that afforded them a rudimentary skill of flight.
Few dinosaurs, if any, could match the ability, modification and innate instinct for flight seen in modern birds, but in these humble beginnings lay the start of the evolutionary causeway that would culminate in the emergence of modern birds - the aves. But before diving into the subject of flying dinosaurs, here's a summary of the clade Dinosauria.
Dinosaurs are primarily classified into 2 categories based on their hip structure:
The word 'Saurischia' comes from the Greek word sauros, which means 'lizard', and ischion, which means 'hip joint'. The saurischian dinosaurs had a hip structure resembling that of modern lizards. Saurischians are further classified into 2 subdivisions.
  • Theropods, being one of them, moved on two feet and were mostly carnivorous. This category of dinosaurs is almost exclusively associated in popular culture with the Tyrannosaurus rex.
The venom-spitting 'little one' dinosaur from 'Jurassic Park' is also a theropod - a Dilophosaurus, although it has been depicted smaller than in actuality, and the ability to spit venom is entirely fictitious.