Characters of Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx was a primitive bird consisting of feathers. It is a genus of bird-like- dinosaurs. Archaeopteryx was accepted by paleontologists as the oldest known bird (member of group Avialae).

Archaeopteryx is considered a transitional fossil between dinosaurs and modern birds. Its German name is “Urogel”.

Scientific position of Archaeopteryx:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Clade: Dinosauria
  • Order: Saurischia
  • Suborder: Theropoda
  • Clade: Avialae
  • Family: Archaeopterygidae
  • Genus: Archaeopteryx

Phylogenetic position of Archaeopteryx:

Modern paleontology has often classified Archaeopteryx as the most primitive bird. It is not thought to be a true ancestor of modern birds, but rather, a close relative of that ancestor.

Habitat of Archaeopteryx:

They lived in the Late Jurassic around 150 million years ago, At that time Europe (Now southern Germany) was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm sea, which is now closer to the equator.

General characters of Archaeopteryx

The general characteristics features of archaeopteryx are as follows:

  • Archaeopteryx consists jaw with a full set of sharp teeth.
  • They had a flat sternum (breastbones), a long bony tail, and gastralia (belly ribs).
  • Archaeopteryx possessed three fingers with claws
  • Hyperextensible second toe (killing toe)
  • The feathers, wings, furcular, and reduced fingers are all characteristics of modern birds.
  • The largest species of Archaeopteryx could grow about 0.5m.
  • As they had wings but not clear whether Archaeopteryx was capable of flapping flight or simply a glider.
  • Despite the presence of numerous avian features, Archaeopteryx had many non-avian Theropod dinosaur characteristics. Unlike modern birds, Archaeopteryx had small teeth as well as long bony tails, features which Archaeopteryx shared with other dinosaurs of the time.
  • Because the Archaeopteryx had common features of both birds and non-avian dinosaurs, it has often been considered a link between them.
Characters of Archaeopteryx: Fig showing external features of Archaepteryx


Other Important Facts 

  • They are also known by the German name ‘Urvogel’
  • The Archaeopteryx is considered a transitional fossil between dinosaurs and modern birds.
  • The initial discovery, a single feather, in 1860 or 1861, and described in 1861 by Hermann von Meyer.
  • The first skeleton, known as the London specimen was unearthed in 1861 near Langenaltheim, Germany.
  • Specimens of Archaeopteryx were most notable for their well-developed, asymmetrical flight features.
  • The tail feathers were less asymmetrical
  • The thumb did not yet bear a separately movable tuft of stiff feathers.

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