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Judy Scherpelz
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Image reproduced with permission
originally published Feb. 1, 1997 New Scientist

Archaeopteryx (ak-kee-OP-ter-ix)

Archaeopteryx lithographica, is the earliest bird in the fossil record, coming from the Late Jurassic lithographic limestone near Solnhofen, Germany. The first specimen was found in 1861, almost coincident with Darwin's publication of Origin of Species two years later, and eight more have since been found.

Archaeopteryx was about the size of a crow with short, broad wings and a long tail. While its feathers were similar to those of living birds, it had jaws lined with sharp teeth, three fingers ending in curving claws, and a long bony tail, in stark contrast to modern birds.

It was immediately recognized by Thomas Henry Huxley that Archaeopteryx was a wonderful example of a transitional form between dinosaurs and birds, supporting Darwin's theory of evolution. This fossil shares many features with dinosaurs, including large, feathered wings underlain by long forelimbs that include three clawed fingers. This First Bird also had a long bony tail, instead of the short pygostyle that supports modern birds' tails, and toothy jaws. The finding of many feathered dinosaurs since the 1990s has only strengthened this conclusion. 

Internet source: http://www.fossilmuseum.net/fossilpictures-wpd/Archaeopteryx/Archaeopteryx.htm

 

http://www.healthstones.com/dinosaurdata/a/archaeopteryx/archaeopteryx.jpg


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