Paleontology: Dinosaur Tales

Did today's birds really evolve from dinosaurs? Two spectacular discoveries make the case even stronger

It seems hard to believe, but it wasn't that long ago that the idea of birds evolving directly from dinosaurs seemed just a little flaky. Sure, they shared generally similar body plans--paleontologists have known that for more than a century--but that hardly constituted an airtight case. Over the past couple of decades, however, scientists have uncovered all sorts of detailed characteristics common to birds and dinosaurs: wishbones, swiveling wristbones and, most recently, proof that some dinosaurs sported feathers. There's behavioral evidence too. Some dinosaurs made nests and sat on them, and one four-winged, feathered dino evidently glided like a flying squirrel.

A flurry of new finds offers even...