Six Interesting Dinosaur Descendants That Live on Earth Today


Source by:

You must have heard a lot about dinosaurs. You probably heard that they are big, powerful, scary, and extinct. Even if not all dinosaurs exhibit all the mentioned features, they indeed described a typical dinosaur. But one thing you may not know is that there are dinosaur descendants that are still living with us. In this article, we will discuss six relatives and descendants of dinosaurs that live on earth today.

In this article, we will discuss the descendant and the close relatives of dinosaurs that are still living today. We will also explain their similarities with dinosaurs. You will learn the following:

  • The direct dinosaur descendants 
  • Close relatives of dinosaurs
  • Differences and similarities between dinosaurs and other reptiles

Get ready to know? Let’s start!

1. Birds


Source by:

It has not been long before scientists confirmed that birds are direct descendants of dinosaur. As powerful and fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs are, extensive study of their fossils revealed that they share a lot of DNA with the modern-day chicken. Further research proved that birds came from theropods.  A theropod is a dinosaur that walked on two legs. This group includes many famous dinosaurs like the T-Rex and the Velociraptors.


Source by:

When you first try to compare a dinosaur to a bird, you may not see any similarity. They may look like they are way far apart. Dinosaurs are huge and terrible, while birds are small and harmless. Also, while dinosaurs are reptiles, birds are aves. But when you study them closely, you will start noticing the similarities. Dinosaurs laid eggs; birds do. Theropod dinosaurs walked on two legs, the same as birds. Birds have feathers, and many dinosaurs did. Even looking at their shapes, you can easily scale down a dinosaur to look like a bird or scale up a bird, and it will look like a dinosaur. This is most especially true for a bird-like ostrich.

Even in terms of behavior, dinosaurs were not just oviparous (egg-laying animal) like birds, but they also make nests for their eggs as birds are doing today. Unlike other reptiles that walked relatively close to the ground, dinosaurs stood perfectly erect like birds.

Having discovered that birds are dinosaur descendants that are still living with us, it is no longer scientifically correct to say all dinosaurs are extinct; instead, scientists believe that all non-avian dinosaurs are extinct, while the avian dinosaurs are still living with us. We only call them birds.

2. Crocodile


Source by:

Birds might be the only direct dinosaur descendant still alive today, but tuatara is a closely related family. In fact, by merely looking at a picture of a typical dinosaur, a crocodile, you will see the similarities immediately. To start with, both are vertebrates and reptiles. Dinosaurs had dry skins that were covered by scales. Crocodiles have the same features. As reptiles, dinosaurs reproduced by laying fertilized eggs, the same way crocodiles are reproducing. Also, dinosaurs classified as sauropods walked on four legs as crocodiles are doing today. Perhaps, the significant difference between a typical dinosaur and a crocodile is that while crocodiles are aquatic, dinosaurs were terrestrial. They also differ significantly in size, in their diet, and the way they walked.

Like dinosaurs, crocodiles had been around since over 100 million years ago. They share the same ancestor with the dinosaurs, but while the dinosaurs got extinct, crocs managed to escape all mass extinctions that occurred since they first appeared. Hence, they survived till today.

3. Tuatara


Source by:

Among the reptiles that share many significant features with dinosaurs are the tuatara lizards. This New Zealand crawling creature was classified by scientists as a lizard until recently when more facts showed that they are a separate group of reptiles. Tuatara resembles lizards but has green scales. Their reproduction is slow, and so is their growth. However, they share many similarities with the dinosaur, that it is evident both shared the same ancestor.

Like the dinosaurs, tuatara are reptiles. Hence, they exhibit all characteristics of reptiles. They have dry skin that is covered in scales. They lay fertilized eggs. They walked on two-four legs like the sauropods, and their young ones resemble them. Also, they are terrestrial. They have powerful jaws like the dinosaurs and can live for up to ten decades.

Tuatara indeed came from the same ancestors as the dinosaurs, but they probably evolved before the dinosaurs. Paleontologists believe tuatara had been around since about 250 million years ago. They had managed to escape mass extinctions, which dinosaurs couldn’t survive. Unfortunately, due to their slow reproduction, they are among the endangered species today, and if we don’t take steps to protect them, they may soon become extinct.

4. Alligator


Source by:

Alligators had been linked with both crocodiles and birds. Therefore, they are far from the dinosaurs, who also shared many features with the two animals. Just as birds can communicate with sounds, alligators too can. Many scientists believe this trait is because both birds and alligators share the same ancestor. With that discovery, it is obvious that alligators share the same ancestors as the dinosaurs since birds are dinosaur descendants. More importantly, alligators are reptiles. They have dry skins. Their bodies are covered in scales, and they lay fertilized eggs. All these features were exhibited by the dinosaurs when they walked on earth. 

Also, like the sauropods, alligators have four legs. However, you cannot compare an alligator’s size and weight with those of a typical dinosaur. Also, alligators cannot walk erect as the dinosaurs did. But without any doubt, alligators must have come from an ancestor that was closely related to the ancestor of the dinosaurs.

5. Lizard


Source by:

If you know the meaning of dinosaurs, then lizard will be the first relative of the reptile to come to your mind. The word dinosaur means a terrible lizard. Hence in appearance, a typical dinosaur looked so much like a terrible lizard. Even though many lizard species are known today, they all share many similarities with the dinosaurs. Like other animals mentioned so far, except the birds, lizards are reptiles. As a reptile, lizards have dry skins that are covered with scaled. Of course, the dinosaurs also had the same feature. Lizards are also oviparous like dinosaurs. Being oviparous means reproducing by laying eggs. Also, Lizards walk on four legs as the sauropod dinosaurs did. They are also terrestrial.

There are no doubt dinosaurs and lizard must have shared the same or closely related ancestors with all these features and similarities.

6. Turtles


Source by:

Turtles may not look so much like dinosaurs, but scientific data show more similarities between the two organisms than their looks indicate. Apart from the DNA and other scientific data, there are still some physical resemblances between a turtle and a typical dinosaur. Both are reptiles, and both lay eggs. Also, turtles have dry bodies, as dinosaurs did. They equally walk on four legs like the sauropod dinosaurs. But while turtles are aquatic, dinosaurs were terrestrial.


Dinosaurs were extinct over 65 million years ago, but many organisms that share the same or closely related ancestors with them are still living till now. The only direct dinosaur descendants that live on earth today are the birds, but today’s reptiles are very close to dinosaurs. Being reptiles themselves, dinosaurs share the same physical appearance, features, and behavior as reptiles like crocodiles, alligators, lizards, tuatara, and turtles. Among the shared features are the ability to lay fertilized eggs and produce offspring that look so much like them, dry skin, scales on the body, and the ability to walk on legs.

Share to:

Leave A Comment

Leave a Reply