16 Living animals that are direct descendants of dinosaurs

Dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago, and the fascinating thing about it is that their legacy still lives on. A few of their direct descendants still roam the earth today, some of which you wouldn’t have been able to guess. According to research, the following 16 animals embody the heritage of dinosaurs.

Sea Turtles

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Sea turtles are marvelous creatures, and they too look like they would have been somehow related to a dinosaur species with their outer characteristics. Research shows they are indeed linked to the Archelosauria dinosaurs. They are seen to have evolved alongside dinosaurs over 100 million years ago. Back then, they were over 4 meters long.


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Birds are known as ‘the living dinosaurs.’ Their skeletal features, particularly those of small Theropods (meat-eating or carnivorous dinosaurs), have a direct lineage to these ancient animals. The small dinosaurs linked to them were feathered and had much in common with birds. Their mouths still contained sharp teeth.


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Yes, chickens, too, are direct descendants of dinosaurs. Although classified as birds, they share their genetics not just with small dinosaurs like the Velociraptors but also with larger ones such as the Tyrannosaurus rex. CBD Kids tells us that fossil studies show that the modern-day chicken has a large amount of shared DNA with dinosaurs.


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Lobsters, crabs, and most other crustaceans have been around for centuries, and many species have even been around since the days of the dinosaurs. It is true that many of these even predate the times of the dinosaurs by millions of years. As an early record of the first filter-feeders to date, crustaceans are examples of living animals that are direct descendants of dinosaurs.


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It may be quite obvious from their sharp teeth, claws, and hard rubbery skin that they would be linked to some sort of dinosaur species, and you would be right. Both alligators and crocodiles have very similar characteristics to the dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous period (about 145-166 million years ago).

Duck-Billed Platypuses

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It may be hard to believe that these creatures were around during the time of the dinosaurs. However, through various fossilized studies, these weird-looking animals that originated in eastern Australia were found to be linked to dinosaurs. We have no idea how these guys survived the ancient extinctions, as expressed on the San Diego Zoo website. Unfortunately, their numbers are now starting to decline as per the Conservation Index.


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Even though they may look very different from your typical dinosaur, sharks have been around for over 450 million years, i.e., longer than most other species on the earth today. This goes to show that they are descendants of the dinosaur and it’s helpful to know that they have physically evolved and didn’t always look like they do now.


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Did you know that ostriches are among the most closely related animals to dinosaurs? This is especially true when you look at the dinosaurs that existed during the Cretaceous period. However, if you do the research, they do have some similarities with the ornithomimosaurs and the notorious velociraptor, which also had feather-like fuzz and long, powerful legs.


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Funny enough, when we think of dinosaurs, we always tend to picture the T. Rex or a large beast that roamed the earth; however, not all species were large, and many other smaller types took over the ground levels – including the ones that looked like snakes. These slithery creatures have been around for over 140 million years. Longer than any T. Rex has been around.

The Bearded Dragon

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Another animal that has gotten its roots from the dinosaur era is the bearded dragon. If you’ve seen one, you’ll know what we mean. These dinosaur-looking reptiles are tame and kept as pets in many homes. They change color when they morph, live for up to 15 years, and have been around for 250 million years.

Tuatara Lizards

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Lizards are also one of the many animals that look like they may have been related to dinosaurs in some way, shape, or form. More so, the Tuatara lizards, according to Discover Magazine, are linked to dinosaurs. They are part of the Sphenodontia family, which has been around for over 250 million years. They walked side-by-side with dinosaurs and are also part of the group of animals that are nearing extinction.


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One of the most crucial creatures to inhibit the earth is the bee. They have been around for a lot longer than you may think. They were flying around during the Cretaceous period (approximately 60 million years ago). Science Daily revealed they faced a mass extinction 65 million years ago “at the end of the Cretaceous and beginning of the Paleogene eras, “but this is bound to happen again if we are not careful.


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Some of the specific species of dinosaurs that flew millions of years ago during the Mesozoic era, were the Pterosaurs. These were a type of flying reptile that was a mix between a bird and a dinosaur. Their characteristics were remarkably similar to those of modern-day falcons.

Sea Stars

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Sea stars, sea cucumbers, and urchins were all hanging out with dinosaurs back in the day. An extinct genus of sea star Pentasteria swam alongside marine dinosaurs such as the Spinosaurus, Archelon, and others listed in the dinosaur universe, and they too had five arms and a mouth underneath their bodies. Who knew?


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Although they’re not animals, cockroaches, often either feared or loved, have been known to have survived the atomic bomb. Need we say more? They survived what was known as the ‘Great Dying Period’, which existed between the Triassic and Permian periods. The scary thing is, they were much larger than the ones we see nowadays.

The Caiman

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Although modern-day Caiman is not a dinosaur, it sure has some links to it from millions of years ago. As part of the group of Archosaurs, which includes birds and other reptiles, the Caiman resembles the Phytosaurs of the late Triassic period. They are an example of what’s known as a ‘convergent evolution.’

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