A new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History explores links between the birds of today and their dinosaur ancestors. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
Dinosaurs Among Us, a new exhibit opening soon at the American Museum of Natural History, explores how some reptile species evolved into the birds we know today.
I got a sneak preview, learning about the similarities between today's birds and their ancestors that went extinct 65 million years ago.
Curator Mark Norell has been working for two-and-a-half decades studying the evolutionary relationships, giving us new data to back up the theories.
"That evidence comes from everywhere, from bones, from neurology, the shapes of their brain, their respiratory system. Everything," Norell said.
Displayed by amazing well-preserved fossils - you can can climb into a dinosaur nest or make friends with a 23-foot-long feathered Yutyrannus. There is also an interactive game where you can explore what allows creatures to be able to fly. Postdoctoral researcher Ashley Heers helped design it, and let this big kid play.
"You basically build a dinosaur," Heers said. "So you give it a certain sized wing, a certain type of body, that sort of thing, and you see what type of behavior it might have been capable of. Because it turns out that some of these dinosaurs, these extinct dinosaurs, might have been able to fly."
It all leads to the question - how did some of the ancestors of birds avoid extinction?
"There's a lot of speculation, and no one one really knows for sure. But birds are just a subset of flying dinosaurs," Heers said.
So when you walk out of here, it will be much more clear that, as Norell says,"Dinosaurs are still alive, that they are living today. We just call them birds."
Dinosaurs Among Us opens to museum members on Friday and then to the public on Monday, March 21. For more information, head to AMNH.org.