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10 Descendants And Relatives Of Dinosaurs That Are Still Alive

Tyrannosaurus Rex was among the scariest dinosaur species on this planet about 70 million years ago. Today, it’s extinct just like any other dinosaur, but there still are some animals roaming the Earth that are connected to those ancient species.  From soaring birds to swimming crocs, we’ve found 10 living species that call dinosaurs their (great-great-great-great-great-great-great) grans and grandads.


Who are you calling chicken? Theropods, a clade of two-legged dinosaurs that included the smaller Velociraptors and the formidable Tyrannosaurus rex, are the ancestors of birds.

Hang on, the T-rex was one of the biggest, meanest animals that have ever lived, so its relatives must also be enormous and terrifying, right?  Not quite!  According to fossil research, the T-rex and all other birds actually have a lot of DNA in common.  This includes modern chickens. You will never view a meek pigeon the same way after this!


Chomp on this fun fact: many animals that you see today share some impressive connections with dinosaurs, including crocodiles – and you can really see the similarities in their rubbery skin, their fierce teeth, and their claws.

Chickens may be the rightful descendants of dinosaurs, but we also know that crocodilians, like crocodiles and alligators, share common ancestors with dinosaurs too. In fact, crocs as we know them today are actually pretty similar to their ancient ancestors of the Cretaceous period (about 145-166 million years ago) – and to think that these creatures outlived the dinosaurs.

Sea Turtles

According to recent research, turtles are members of the Archelosauria group, which also includes relatives like dinosaurs, crocodiles, and birds.

Alongside dinosaurs, turtles underwent evolution; approximately 110 million years ago, a distinct type of turtle emerged: the sea turtle. All living species of sea turtles have origins that can be traced back to ancient times; about 80 million years ago, a genus of extinct sea turtles called Archelon swam the oceans. Each one of these guys was over four meters long and measured at five meters wide from flipper to flipper – we’re also shell-shocked!


Even though ostriches have an odd appearance, you might be surprised to learn that they have a close ancestry to a late Cretaceous dinosaur species. Upon closer examination, this is reasonable since ostriches resemble dinosaurs in certain ways.

Their overall size and shape are quite similar to that of a handful of dinosaur species, including the notorious velociraptor; even their talons are claw-like. This remarkable bird, now native to the plains of Africa, has survived a whole host of extinction events, having walked the Earth for over 66 million years.


When we think of dinosaurs, we imagine huge beasts roaming the Earth, but not every creature was so disproportionately large. Indeed, ground level was a hive of activity, with one of the most prevalent animals being one we’re very familiar with today: the snake.

Snakes have been around for millions upon millions of years, somehow slithering their way out of umpteen mass extinctions. And scientists can prove this, with the discovery of several fossilized snakes revealing that they’ve been around for over 140 million years – that’s twice as old as Mr. T-Rex.


Sharks may not look like your typical dinosaur, but these iconic creatures of the deep have been around longer than almost any other animal on the planet – over 450 million years, to be exact. That means the sharks we know and love today are descended from creatures that were around millions of years before dinosaurs were even a concept. It’s almost impossible to fathom.

Of course, sharks haven’t always looked like they do now, nor were they always this size. Fossils show us that sharks used to be much bigger, with the largest known species, the megalodon, being around the size of a blue whale!


Crustaceans, such as crabs and lobsters, have shown some real staying power over the centuries, with several species known to have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Indeed, many species of lobster predate dinosaurs by hundreds of millions of years, and they’re one of the earliest known species of filter-feeders on record.

And, as with sharks, we know that modern crustaceans are much smaller than their great-great-great-great grandparents. Fossilized remains highlight some truly formidable specimens; we’re not sure we would have been as keen to take a dip during the time of the dinosaurs.


Bees are one of the most important creatures to inhabit planet Earth, and they’ve done so successfully for a lot longer than you might expect. Research shows that bees emerged during the Cretaceous period (approximately 60 million years ago), so it’s almost certain they were buzzing from flower to flower when T-Rex roamed the wilderness.

What we do understand about bees, however, is that they aren’t invulnerable to mass extinction events. Scientists believe their numbers were hit on several occasions throughout history, though none were as serious as the threat that they currently face through habitat loss.

Duck-Billed Platypuses

It’s not much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that duck-billed platypuses were around during the dinosaur timeline. These odd-looking creatures, native to eastern Australia, are a truly unique animal, whose only other related species are those found in fossilized remains dating back millions of years.

We’re not sure how platypuses survived the mass extinction, which took care of their forebears, but we’re sure happy to have them around. These unique critters are undeniably cute, but sadly, their numbers are in decline – with a ‘Near Threatened’ status on the Conservation Index.

Tuatara Lizards

Tuatara lizards are the most closely related to dinosaurs of all the reptiles and lizards. These lizards, which are exclusive to New Zealand, are the last members of the Sphenodontia family still alive, having existed during the time of the dinosaurs.

Tuatara lizards certainly look primordial, with dark green scales, spiny backs, and large, black eyes. These elusive chaps, which are classified as Vulnerable to Extinction, have been around for over 250 million years; it would be a shame to lose them now.

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