Greetings, and welcome to the inaugural entry in what is certain to be an edifying and scintillating program. I suppose you're wondering why I've called you all here tonight. The reason, good sirs and madams, is birds. A most vital and compelling matter, as you can no doubt see.
Neither of these things is a bird, and yet they're nearer birds than any non-avians alive today. Whatever one might say about archosaurs (and there's a lot to say) they were no slouches. Not content to have produced the first vertebrates adapted to flight, they opted for an encore, conducting themselves with no small amount of style.
Stick this in your fancy sails, synapsid freaks!
There was a lot of tweaking over the eons, but eventually the familiar form emerged: Sans tail, sans claws, sans snout. Aerodynamism incarnate.
Still, it was not so definitive an avian that it overpowered its beakless-breathren. Rather, it coexisted with all manner of feathered beauties.
Look ma, no wings!
Alas, the cosmos is a cruel mistress, for the age of reptiles was coming to an end. Between the Chixalub asteroid and the Deccan Traps, Aves, birds as we know them, watched their dinosaur brethren vanish from the Earth, in what was not even the worst mass-extinction to date.
While those puny mammals were getting their act together, Aves was flourishing, getting up to all manner of outrageous hi-jinks
Flight! What is it good for?
It should be noted that while no other dinosaurs escaped, there was another lineage of archosaurs that survived....
And while it was those pesky hominids that ultimately reached sapience, one can hardly deny the impressive cognitive faculties of certain birds...
Not bad for a lineage that lost its hands millions of years ago!
In conclusion... Well.... What was the point of all this?
Oh! I know!