Dinosaurs may have gone extinct millions of years ago, but their evolutionary offspring still walk amongst us.
By
Shami Sivasubramanian

11 Feb 2016 - 3:53 PM  UPDATED 11 Feb 2016 - 3:53 PM

When dinosaurs come to mind, most of us picture the big beastly reptiles we saw in Jurassic World. But dinosaurs actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and even still exist today.

Well, not exactly. But their evolutionary descendants do - birds! Birds are descendants of theropods, the two-legged winged variety of dinosaurs that include the feathery velociraptors and waddling tyrannosaurs.

Just to remind you that the real world is practically as cool as a sci-fi action thriller, here are eleven birds that look way too much like the dinosaurs they most definitely are.

1. Great Blue Heron

This bird looks so prehistoric it's crazy. Look at those three-toed tracks, a feature inherted from their velociraptor ancestors.

2. Shoebill

The shoebill's beak looks almost menacing. That sharp hooked curve right at the end of its bill is a remnant of a raptor-like bone structure.

3. Sandhill Crane

A large wingspan and long feathers are features of velociraptors from the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. But though they may have died, many of their features live on, just as they do in this sandhill crane.

4. Cinereous Vulture

This descendant of raptors is the world's largest bird of prey. They weigh up to 15 kilograms and have wingspans of up four metres.

5. Toucan

A small raptor, called Anichorinis, had black and white feathers with a splash of colour, similar to the modern day toucan.  Also the toucan's serrated beak is a throwback to the raptor's prehistorical teeth.

6. Kiwi

New Zealand's national bird shares its DNA with the one and only Tyrannosaurus rex. However, this flightless bird seems much cuter than its Jurassic ancestor.

7. Cassowary

The cassowary looks a lot like a prehistoric turkey. But this endangered species gets its crest from relatives like the corythosaurus, a duck-billed dinosaur with a similarly large structure on its head.

8. Ostrich

This feathered flightless bird's closest relative is the ornithomimosaurus, who had a similarly long, slender neck and moved like modern day ostriches.

9. American Bald Eagle

The eagle, like all birds of prey, has all those raptor-like features: feathers, tallons, small beady eyes, and a hooked beak.

10. Pelican

A pelican's pouch used to help it feed on fish is actually the result of evolutionary stasis - meaning it was a trait that never got lost during evolution, but stayed on as the species changed in other ways. In fact, a fossil was found in France showing a prehistoric species with similar pelican-like pouches.

11. Chicken

The chicken takes its ancestry from tyrannosaurs, and if you look carefully, you can see the similarity.

Bonus: Renowned paleontologist Jack Horner once tried to reverse engineer a chicken's DNA to produce a dinosaur. Take a look at his TED Talk below.