08 December 2009

Archaeopteryx: the first bird

Archaeopteryx means "beginning wing." The fossil was found in Barvaria in 1860. It was always thought to be rather much a "missing link" between birds & reptiles. It comes from Jurassic period 140 million years ago and was a pigeon-sized bird. Certainly this was not the first bird, just the first we know of. Recently fossils of equal or greater age have been discovered in China.

Archaeopteryx had feathers identical to modern ones but otherwise was more a reptile than a bird:
 1) teeth
2) vertebrae in tail
3) reptile-like skull
4) trunk skeleton like reptile (i.e., did not have fused clavicles)
5) clawed fingers
6) pelvis of three separate bones.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. One day I really should publish an update to the whole course...