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Early birds



Tom Holtz <tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov> says:
> Maniraptora is a clade defined as "birds and all dinosaurs sharing a more
> recent common ancestor with birds than with ornithomimosaurs". 

This prompts me to ask a question I have been wondering about.
Birds apparently evolved in the Jurassic so they were around a long
time before the other dinosaurs died off.  Were they a wide spread
and conspicuous taxa like today or where they relegated to the
backwaters of evolution until the K-T extinction like the mammals?

I realize that birds did not fossilize well and their ancestory is
poorly known.  However, what is known?  Were there Cretaceous
equivalents of oxpeckers eating the ticks off T. rex or cattle
egrets following Triceratops around?

>From Les Eastman -  Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
lreastma@apgea.army.mil