What is the closest living relative to the dinosaur?



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    Contrary to popular belief, lizards are not the closest living relative to dinosaurs.  Instead, birds are.  In fact, according to some modern classification, birds are dinosaurs, while reptiles are merely cousins of dinosaurs.  Chickens have been found to be the T. rex’s closest living relative, based on protein sequencing.

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    This article also lists crocodiles and alligators along with birds as their closest living relatives.  Scientists study both bird eggs and crocodile eggs in order to draw conclusions about how dinosaurs might have laid and cared for their eggs.

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    My first thought was birds, and then alligators and crocodiles; the information provided by pauleen and krich11 is absolutely correct. Virtually every bird can be traced to dinosaurs, who themselves were evolving to modern conventions of what we consider a bird. For example, the Archaeopteryx from 145 million years ago is regarded as the first bird, as it developed feathers and was sized similarly to a crow.

    Detailed sketch of an Archaeopteryx

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    One factor of evolution that connects birds and dinosaurs is the fact that both have hollow bones.  They also both walk upright, and have very similar skull and foot structure.  Along with crocidiles, birds and dinosaurs also have four chambered hearts and a single systemic aorta.

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