Archaeopteryx, one of the first birds - an intermediate between dinosaurs and birds?

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx



Archaeopteryx
Click here for more Archaeopteryx Pictures

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Aves
  Order Archaeopterygiformes
  Family Archaeopterygidae
  Genus Archaeopteryx
Archaeopteryx is the earliest and most primitive bird currently definitely known (Protoavis has been claimed as an earlier bird, however many scientists dispute this). The name "Archaeopteryx" (which, as is often the case, is derived from Ancient Greek) means "ancient wing", although it is sometimes also known by the German name of "Urvogel" which means "first bird".

Archaeopteryx lived in the Jurassic period between approximately 150 million and 145 million years ago. fossils of the animal have been found in what is today southern Germany, but was at the time an archipelago of islands in a warm tropical sea.

Many scientists believe that Archaeopteryx is a transitional fossil between birds and dinosaurs, and its discovery has contributed greatly to the debate about evolution. The first complete specimen of Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1861, just two years after Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection", and seemed to be a spectacular confirmation of his ideas. In particular, the idea that birds were descended from Theropod dinosaurs, was proposed by T. H. Huxley in 1868.

Archaeopteryx fossil
Archaeopteryx seems to have grown to a maximum of about 1 foot 8 inches (50 centimeters) in length, about the size of a medium-sized modern bird. It seems to have definitely had feathers (see below) as well as some other avian features (including a wishbone and a partially reversed first toe), a larger brain than most dinosaurs (again more like birds), but Archaeopteryx also retained several features similar to Theropod dinosaurs. Dinosaur-like features included its small teeth and a long bony tail.

To date, less than a dozen specimens of Archaeopteryx have been found, and many of these fossils appear to include evidence of feathers. Noteably, Archaeopteryx has flight feathers, so it is thought likely that these may have evolved from simpler feathers in its as yet undiscovered ancestors. Over the years, there have been a number of controversies and debates relating to Archaeopteryx, including whether it should be classified as a bird at all, and how it relates to modern birds (currently, many scientists believe that Archaeopteryx is a close relative of the ancestor of modern birds, rather than the direct ancestor).

One of the key points of scientific interest in Archaeopteryx is what it can teach us about the evolution of flying in birds. One theory is that flight evolved from fast-running after insects and other small prey such as small lizards (an idea first proposed by Samuel Wendell Williston). The main alternative theory is that flight began by jumping or gliding down from trees (this theory was first proposed by Othniel C. Marsh). Although it seems pretty clear that Archaeopteryx could fly, it is not entirely clear which of these two theories it provides evidence for - Archaeopteryx does not seem particularly well-suited for either running or for perching in trees. We do know however that there were few in the local environment at the Archaeopteryx was alive, although it is of course possible that Archaeopteryx simply used shrubs, cliffs, and whatever trees were available.

Archaeopteryx Timeline:



Archaeopteryx was an early bird with many dinosaur-like features that lived between 150 and 145 million years ago

Archaeopteryx was an early bird with many dinosaur-like features that lived between 150 and 145 million years ago


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Archaeopteryx Books


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ARCHAEOPTERYX: The Icon of Evolution
By Peter Wellnhofer

Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil
Released: September 1st, 2009
Hardcover (208 pages)

ARCHAEOPTERYX: The Icon of Evolution
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ARCHAEOPTERYX: The Icon of Evolution
  • Manufacturer: Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil
  • ISBN: 3899371089
  • EAN: 9783899371086
  • PartNumber: 9017912
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 208
  • Author: Peter Wellnhofer
  • Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
  • Release Date: September 1st, 2009
Physical Description:
  • Size: 12.83462 Inches by 9.80313 Inches by 0.7874 Inches
  • Weight: 3.2628414776 Pounds
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Archaeopteryx: The First Bird (Graphic Dinosaurs)
By Rob Shone

Brand: Powerkids Pr
Released: August 15th, 2011
Library Binding (32 pages)

Archaeopteryx: The First Bird (Graphic Dinosaurs)
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Archaeopteryx: The First Bird (Graphic Dinosaurs)
  • Manufacturer: Powerkids Pr
  • Brand: Brand: Powerkids Pr
  • ISBN: 1448852048
  • EAN: 9781448852048
Details:
  • Product Category: Library Binding
  • Number of Pages: 32
  • Author: Rob Shone
  • Publication Date: August 15th, 2011
  • Release Date: August 15th, 2011
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  • Size: 11.5 Inches by 9.5 Inches by 0.25 Inches
  • Weight: 0.85 Pounds
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  • Used Book in Good Condition
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Archaeopteryx (The Albuquerque Trilogy Book 1)
By Dan Darling

Curiosity Quills Press
Kindle Edition (415 pages)

Archaeopteryx (The Albuquerque Trilogy Book 1)
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Archaeopteryx (The Albuquerque Trilogy Book 1)
  • Manufacturer: Curiosity Quills Press
Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 415
  • Author: Dan Darling
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Archaeopteryx (Finding Dinosaurs) (Focus Readers: Finding Dinosaurs: Navigator Level)
By Rebecca E. Hirsch

Focus Readers
Released: January 1st, 2018
Paperback (32 pages)

Archaeopteryx (Finding Dinosaurs) (Focus Readers: Finding Dinosaurs: Navigator Level)
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Archaeopteryx (Finding Dinosaurs) (Focus Readers: Finding Dinosaurs: Navigator Level)
  • Manufacturer: Focus Readers
  • ISBN: 1635175747
  • EAN: 9781635175745
  • PartNumber: Illustrations, unspecified
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 32
  • Author: Rebecca E. Hirsch
  • Publication Date: January 1st, 2018
  • Release Date: January 1st, 2018
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  • Size: 8.75 Inches by 7.0 Inches by 0.25 Inches
  • Weight: 0.22 Pounds
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Archaeopteryx, the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery
By Fred Hoyle

Christopher Davies
Hardcover (135 pages)

Archaeopteryx, the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery
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Archaeopteryx, the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery
  • Manufacturer: Christopher Davies
  • ISBN: 0715406655
  • EAN: 9780715406656
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 1st Edition
  • Number of Pages: 135
  • Authors: Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe
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A Jurassic Mystery: Archaeopteryx (Dinosaurs) (v. 2)
Brand: Abbeville Kids
Released: September 2nd, 2008
Hardcover (64 pages)

A Jurassic Mystery: Archaeopteryx (Dinosaurs) (v. 2)
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A Jurassic Mystery: Archaeopteryx (Dinosaurs) (v. 2)
  • Manufacturer: Abbeville Kids
  • Brand: Brand: Abbeville Kids
  • ISBN: 0789209799
  • EAN: 9780789209795
  • PartNumber: 64 colour
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 64
  • Publication Date: September 2nd, 2008
  • Release Date: September 2nd, 2008
Physical Description:
  • Size: 11.5 Inches by 8.0 Inches by 0.5 Inches
  • Weight: 1.1 Pounds
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  • Used Book in Good Condition
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Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight
By Pat Shipman

Simon & Schuster
Released: January 15th, 1999
Paperback (336 pages)

Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight
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Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight
  • Manufacturer: Simon & Schuster
  • Brand: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN: 0684849658
  • EAN: 9780684849652
  • PartNumber: 9780684849652
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Edition: 1st Touchstone Ed
  • Number of Pages: 336
  • Author: Pat Shipman
  • Publication Date: January 15th, 1999
  • Release Date: January 15th, 1999
Physical Description:
  • Size: 9.21 Inches by 5.96 Inches by 0.78 Inches
  • Weight: 1.10231131 Pounds
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  • Used Book in Good Condition
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Archaeopteryx (Dinosaurs: Dash, Level 1)
By Julie Murray

Abdo Zoom
Released: August 1st, 2019
Library Binding (24 pages)

Archaeopteryx (Dinosaurs: Dash, Level 1)
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Archaeopteryx (Dinosaurs: Dash, Level 1)
  • Manufacturer: Abdo Zoom
  • ISBN: 1532127162
  • EAN: 9781532127168
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  • Number of Pages: 24
  • Author: Julie Murray
  • Publication Date: August 1st, 2019
  • Release Date: August 1st, 2019
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  • Size: 8.9 Inches by 6.1 Inches by 0.3 Inches
  • Weight: 0.45 Pounds
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The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx
By Miriam Schlein

Dial Books
Released: November 1st, 1996
Hardcover (40 pages)

The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx
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Description:
The Puzzle of the Dinosaur-bird: The Story of Archaeopteryx
  • Manufacturer: Dial Books
  • ISBN: 0803712820
  • EAN: 9780803712829
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 1st
  • Number of Pages: 40
  • Author: Miriam Schlein
  • Publication Date: November 1st, 1996
  • Release Date: November 1st, 1996
Physical Description:
  • Size: 10.75 Inches by 8.75 Inches by 0.5 Inches
  • Weight: 1.0 Pounds
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Archaeopteryx lithographica: A study based upon the British Museum specimen
By G. R De Beer

Printed by order of the Trustees of the British mu
Hardcover (68 pages)

Archaeopteryx lithographica: A study based upon the British Museum specimen
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Archaeopteryx lithographica: A study based upon the British Museum specimen
  • Manufacturer: Printed by order of the Trustees of the British mu
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 1st Edition
  • Number of Pages: 68
  • Author: G. R De Beer
Physical Description:
  • Weight: 1.01 Pounds
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