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 magpie, 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, but a study of its wing bones found that they resemble those of birds that fly short distances or in short bursts. 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 ?
Determining the fossil's status as an Archaeopteryx, however, has been a tremendously painstaking order of business.
De hecho desde que fue descubierto el primer Archaeopteryx la hipotesis de que la evolucion de las plumas habria tenido ese sentido adaptativo original de cobertura, sirviendo mas tarde como ayuda para el vuelo, ha sido una de las mas firmes.
But other paleontologists take a bit of an issue with that claim, saying that Archaeopteryx hasn't been really seriously considered a 'first bird' for some time.
In spite of all these new discoveries, Archaeopteryx is still considered by many as the earliest bird, but with the discovery of the feathered Anchiornis, which is about 10 million years older, Archaeopteryx is no longer the oldest feathered animal.
They point out that their robot is, of course, no Archaeopteryx, but add that their findings indicate that more interdisciplinary research is needed to develop an understanding of the abilities of early winged animals.
Outsiders Tranglarhad the owl and Kawaka the archaeopteryx hope to take advantage of this confusion.
2009: India--Hidden Treasures, Archaeopteryx Fossil Park, & Alpine Giants (Alpine VI)
In an interview with Gulf News in 1994, he said the original Archaeopteryx fossil is placed in the Natural History Museum of Berlin but a copy of it was also available at the museum of the ILE-IFE University, Nigeria.
Fortey shows how specimens can be re-examined and re-interpreted by successive generations of experts, yielding new insights each time, as for NHM's famous specimen of Archaeopteryx.
Presumably, Archaeopteryx's proto-wings were adaptations, but were they adaptations for increasing the speed with which an earth-bound Archaeopteryx pursued its quarry, as the so-called 'cursorial' hypothesis has it, or for slowing the rate with which a tree-dwelling Archaeopteryx descended to the ground, as the 'arboreal' hypothesis has it?
For discussion of another famous bird, see Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight (1999) by Pat Shipman.