The archaeopteryx is also called by the name Urvogel, which is a German word that means first bird or original bird. According to the history of science, it is so far the most primitive type of bird known today. It lived approximately 145 to 150 million years ago, specifically during the latter parts of the Jurassic Period. It was discovered in Germany, the shape and size of which are similar to that of European magpies. In addition to these highly interesting details, it is also good to know who discovered the archaeopteryx.
The Discovery of the Archaeopteryx
Who discovered the archaeopteryx? A German paleontologist named Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer first discovered this primitive form of bird. In 1860, he unearthed a single feather, which is still preserved at Germany’s Humboldt Museum fur Naturkunde in the city of Berlin. However, this feather has yet to be directly connected to the other archaeopteryx skeletons that were found close in the area.
In 1861, a local physician by the name of Karl Haberlein received the first skeleton of the archaeopteryx in exchange for the medical services that he performed. It was referred to as the London Specimen, which was later on sold to London’s Natural History Museum in England. In 1863, English paleontologist Richard Owen described it as Archaeopteryx macrura. He assumed that the feather and the skeleton were from different entities.
Based on the different evidences found concerning this type of bird, the archaeopteryx grew at the average length of 1.6 feet or 0.5 meters. Although it was quite small compared to other dinosaurs, it has an inferred capacity to glide of fly using its broad wings. It has similar features with that of the deinonychosaurs, which have hyperextensible second toes, long bony tail, three-fingers with claws as well as jaws with sharp teeth.
Based on reports, it was considered a candidate for transitional fossil, which may possibly link birds and dinosaurs. For this particular reason, scientists find it highly important evidence in their studies of the origins of dinosaurs as well as birds.
The specimens were discovered in Bavaria, particularly from the Solnhofen limestones that can be found in the southern parts of Germany. American paleontologist John H. Ostrom claimed in the 1970s that birds came from theropod dinosaurs. Although it had a number of theropod features, it also had several avian features such as partially reversed first toe, wings and flight feathers. Additionally, it also had interdental plates, anklebone and wishbone.