archaeopteryx


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Archaeopteryx

(är'kēŏp`tərĭks) [Gr.,=primitive wing], a 150 million-year-old fossil animal first discovered in 1860 in the late Jurassic limestone of Solnhofen, Bavaria, and described the following year. All eight known fossils of Archaeopteryx, discovered between 1860 and 1992, were found in a 516 sq-mi (1,336 sq-km) area of the Solnhofen quarries. First classified as a birdbird,
warm-blooded, egg-laying, vertebrate animal having its body covered with feathers and its forelimbs modified into wings, which are used by most birds for flight. Birds compose the class Aves (see Chordata). There are an estimated 9,000 living species.
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 because of the presence of feathers and the structure of the legs and wings, it nevertheless has many characteristics now found only in reptiles or in bird embryos. It was long regarded as the most primitive known bird, but more recent discoveries of fossils that have feathers and other birdlike features while also retaining strong dinosaurlike characteristics has led some to argue that Archaeopteryx is in fact a feathered dinosaurdinosaur
[Gr., = terrible lizard], extinct land reptile of the Mesozoic era. The dinosaurs, which were egg-laying animals, ranged in length from 2 1-2 ft (91 cm) to about 127 ft (39 m).
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 that should be grouped with the theropods. It is still debated whether Archaeopteryx, which was about the size of a pigeon or grackle, was arboreal or a swiftly running terrestrial animal and poor flyer; its feathers appear to have been too weakly constructed to be useful for active flight. Some claimed that a fossil discovered in West Texas in 1983 and dubbed Protoavis represents a primitive bird that predated Archaeopteryx by some 75 million years, but many experts also have questioned whether Protoavis is in fact a bird or even an correctly reconstructed animal.

Bibliography

See L. M. Witmer, The Search for the Origin of Birds (1995); A. Feduccia, The Origin and Evolution of Birds (1996); S. Chatterjee, The Rise of Birds (1997); P. Shipman, Taking Flight: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight (1998).

Archaeopteryx

[‚ärk·ē′äp·tə·riks]
(paleontology)
The earliest known bird; a genus of fossil birds in the order Archaeopterygiformes characterized by flight feathers like those of modern birds.

archaeopteryx

any of several extinct primitive birds constituting the genus Archaeopteryx, esp A. lithographica, which occurred in Jurassic times and had teeth, a long tail, well-developed wings, and a body covering of feathers
References in periodicals archive ?
A point that too many people always have ignored, however, is that the most birdlike of the dinosaurs, such as bambiraptor and velociraptor, lived 70,000,000 years after the earliest bird, Archaeopteryx," Ruben notes.
In one test, volcanic rocks associated with the bones have been dated at 137 million to 142 million years old, which in evolutionary terms would make the bird a virtual contemporary of archaeopteryx.
A controversial 2011 paper argued that Archaeopteryx and two other specimens were feathered dinosaurs, not birds.
A team led by researchers at Brown University announced last year that an analysis of melanosomes in the single Archaeopteryx feather indicated it was black.
This bird was more advanced than Archaeopteryx in that it had a beak, but was less advanced in that it had two small openings in the rear of its skull very similar to the reptile progenitors of birds.
But recently, researchers examining fossilized melanosomes--pigment-producing organelles found in feathers--have started reconstructing the hues of the birdlike dinosaurs Archaeopteryx, Sinosauropteryx, Anchiornis and Microraptor.
Washington, May 30 ( ANI ): An international team of scientists believes archaeopteryx, a raven-sized creature that lived about 150 million years ago, should indeed be considered a bird.
Tracking the evolution of natural flight from insects, the first masters of the air, to modern day birds, the exhibition includes a wealth of specimens such as largescale insect models, casts of feathered dinosaurs, the first bird, Archaeopteryx, and examples of modern day insects, birds and bats.
Finding this type of galaxy is as important as the discovery of the Archaeopteryx was in understanding dinosaurs' evolution into birds, because they were both caught at a critical transitional phase," Fu said.
And a feathered ill fossil flap has arisen about whether Archaeopteryx, long touted as the first known bird, was actually a dinosaur with feathers.
This discovery sheds further doubt on the theory that the famous fossil Archaeopteryx - or "first bird" as it is sometimes referred to - was pivotal in the evolution of modern birds," Dr Dyke said.
Using a formula often applied to bridges and beams, Nudds and Gareth Dyke, an evolutionary biologist at University College Dublin, estimated the load-carrying capacities of feathers from the ancient birds Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis.