Whatever you do, don't try to tell Larry Martin and David Burnham that birds are descended from dinosaurs that eventually ran fast enough to fly.
The two Kansas University professors now have what they say is proof that ancient birds co-existed with dinosaurs. Their work will be featured Tuesday on the PBS network's "NOVA" program.
The two researchers, using a fossil of a dromaeosaur loaned to them from China, built a life-sized model of the birdlike creature. Once they'd done that, and even affixed skin and feathers to the model, they made a revolutionary discovery.
"This animal pretty well demolishes the idea that there ever was a small, fast running protoflyer" that led to a bird, Martin said.
The creature, which Martin calls a dinosaurlike bird, lived in trees and glided to the ground. In fact, he said, it probably couldn't walk at all.
"The closest living model to this is a flying squirrel or flying lemur," Burnham said. "There are no birds that live like this any more."
The dromaeosaur predates the creatures that are often cited as ground-dwelling characters that eventually ran fast enough to gain flight.
Of course, the two wouldn't be going on TV if it really demolished the idea. In fact, researchers at some of the nation's most prestigious universities disagree with the KU researchers' findings.
That's expected to be the context of the "NOVA" program, which airs 7 p.m. Tuesday on Sunflower Broadband Channels 11 and 203.
Despite what the other researchers may say, though, Burnham is convinced the debate is over.