Most vertebrate paleontologists agree that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs. To paleontologists, there is no simple bird-dinosaur dichotomy. Rather there is a continuum of animals that are at first, clearly dinosaurs (like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor), then at the end are clearly birds, like all the modern birds that we see. We recognize lots of ‘in between’ animals, like Archaeopteryx that appear to be at once both bird and dinosaur.
To simplify, many, including me, refer to birds as dinosaurs. Sometimes, we add the term ‘avian’ or ‘non-avian’ to the front of dinosaur, to distinguish between modern, flying birds and their relatives, and the big scary ones that went extinct 65 million years ago.
The interesting outcome is that what this means is that, at least in the United States, we traditionally have a huge family meal on the fourth Thursday of November, in which we consume vast quantities of roasted dinosaur meat.
All right, but how do we know that?