Great Transitions: The Origin of Birds
This film follows paleontologist Julia Clarke as she describes some of the most important fossil evidence showing that birds descended from dinosaurs.
The discovery of Archaeopteryx in a quarry in Germany in the early 1860s provided the first clue that birds descended from reptiles. But what kind of reptile? In the last 40 years, scientists have discovered that birds descended from a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods. By following this trail of discovery, the film illustrates many of the iterative and inquiry-based practices of science: asking important questions, formulating and testing hypotheses, analyzing and interpreting evidence, and revising explanations as new evidence becomes available.
The “Abbreviated Film Guide” provides a short summary of the film, along with key concepts and connections to curriculum standards.
An audio descriptive version of the film is available via our media player.
Archaeopteryx, Deinonychus, dinosaur, feather, fossil, theropod
Ostrom, John H. “Osteology of Deinonychus antirrhopus, an Unusual Theropod from the Lower Cretaceous of Montana.” Peabody Museum of Natural History Bulletin 30 (1969).
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-1, EVO-3, SYI-2
IB Biology (2016)
5.1, 5.4, 10.3
AP Environmental Science (2020)
Topic(s): 2.6, 2.7
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Vision and Change (2009)