There are still about 400 billion dinosaurs roaming this earth. But today, we simply refer to them as birds. There’s a very specific reason why birds are the only dinosaurs that survived, and it may surprise you.
Here’s a riddle for you: how did the almighty dinosaurs get wiped off the face of the earth while seemingly powerless birds made it out alive? To put it down in simple terms, it’s thanks to their beaks.
Birds are descendants of avian dinosaurs. They’re a type of dinosaur that have feathers, can fly and managed to survive the Mesozoic era that killed all the other non-avian dinosaurs, or land dinosaurs, like the Brachiosaurus in Jurassic Park. There’s also another thing that distinguishes avian dinosaurs from non-avian ones–their beaks.
How did birds’ beaks help them survive mass extinction?
66 million years ago, an asteroid hit the earth, wiping out almost all living creatures roaming the Earth. The asteroid turned the air into an oven, sparking massive forest fires. The heat pulse then gave way to a prolonged winter, killing more than 75 percent of species living on earth.
Avian dinosaurs were one of the few species that managed to survive, though, and it is all thanks to their beaks. Food would have been very scarce during this period, leading dinosaurs to die from starvation. Avian dinosaurs who had beaks instead of teeth, on the other hand, had an evolutionary advantage. As herbivores, they fed on seeds and nuts, and used their beaks to pluck and pick food. Their food consumption and powerful beaks allowed them to rummage for food and feed on seeds until vegetation began to return, decades later.
Not all avian dinosaurs were lucky enough to have beaks, though. Some were toothed, and yes, you guessed it, those did notsurvive mass extinction.