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Ferocious tyrannosaurs and towering sauropods are long gone, but dinosaurs continue to frolic in our midst. We’re talking about birds, of course, yet it’s not entirely obvious why we should consider birds to be bona fide dinos. Here are the many reasons why.

Make no mistake, birds are legit dinosaurs, and not some evolutionary offshoot. All non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out following the asteroid-induced mass extinction 66 million years ago, but some species of birds—probably ground-dwelling birds—managed to survive, and they wasted no time in taking over once their relatives were gone.

“Those little guys singing outside your window are the dinosaurs we have left these days,” Adam Smith, curator at Clemson University’s Campbell Geology Museum, explained in an email. “Birds are just one type of dinosaur. Saying ‘birds descended from dinosaurs’ is akin to saying that people descended from mammals. Simply put, all birds are dinosaurs, but not all dinosaurs are birds.”

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