What Is the Scientific Name for Birds?

The scientific name for the group encompassing modern birds is Aves. Aves is the only surviving branch of the dinosaur family tree. They are a side branch of the maniraptors, a group of bipedal feathery dinosaurs that included Velociraptor.

The name Aves is the Latin word for birds. Birds are considered part of Maniraptora because all members of that group have a specialized wrist bone found in no other animals. In birds, this bone allows them to flap their wing powerfully; its use in other maniraptors is obscure, but in some species it also was likely used for flight. Although birds are dinosaurs, they are still a distinct group within the dinosaur family tree and thus retain their special scientific name, Aves.