Der Urvogel

archaeo001One of the great things about working in Bavaria is it is really only a matter of time until you get to see most of the specimens of Archaeopteryx. Having already introduced the legs of the Berlin specimen,  I thought it time to bring in a couple of others.

Most of you probably know that there are eleven specimens of Archaeopteryx, named primarily according to where they are housed. They are: London, Berlin, Munich, Haarlem, Eichstaett, Maxberg (now lost), Solnhofen, Thermopolis, the specimen owned by the Ottmann & Steil families, and one found in the Workerszell quarry, plus a lone feather in Berlin.

I have now seen seven of them (including the feather), which is not bad at all. As ever I can’t and won’t publish photos of those not on public display (and some are on analogue film and not digital anyway) but this still gives me a few to play with.

Here then is a photo of the Solnhofen specimen, housed in the Burgermeister-Mueller museum. Although there is no scale bar to show you, it is by far the biggest of the specimens. However, while its size might be impressive, sadly the preparation job on the specimen is not, and generally it’s pretty poor and not only needs to be prepared further to expose more bone, but the bones themselves need to be better protected and the slab as a whole needs restoring as it is in danger of cracking. Still, it is a specimen rarely illustrated (the Berlin and London ones get all the glory) and even if this is not the best photo (taken in half light and through a glass case) it should be of interest to a few readers.

Finally, in case the title seemed mysterious ‘urvogel’ is German for early bird and is commonly applied to Archeopteryx as a common name, one I rather like.

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