Primitive bird-like dinosaurs that lie outside class Aves proper, in the broader group Avialae, have been found dating back to the mid-Jurassic period, around 170 million years ago.


[1] Many of these early "stem-birds", such as Archaeopteryx, were not yet capable of fully powered flight, and many retained primitive characteristics like toothy jaws in place of beaks, and long bony tails.
The fossil record indicates that birds evolved from earlier feathered dinosaurs within the theropod group, which are traditionally placed within the saurischian dinosaurs; their closest living relatives are the crocodilians.

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