Celebrating Archaeopteryx

Larry Witmer’s timely post on Archaeopteryx over on ‘Pick and Scalpel’ serves as a timely reminder for me to hurry up and finish several posts I have on this most important of taxa. For those who don’t know, 2011 represents the 150th anniversary of this animal coming to light and it is highly significant.

In his post Larry notes that the German’s are releasing a special commemorative 10 Euro coin to mark the occasion and I’ll certainly be after one. However, I already own a couple of Archaeopteryx medals that have been produced at various times. From the Humboldt Museum in Berlin I have one of the Berlin specimen (something I am told is no longer available) and from Eichstaett I have this one.

As you can see it has an image of the Eichstaett specimen on one side and the building that houses the Jura museum on the other. Also of interest is the inscription on the face “Creatura Clamat Creatorem” which thanks to Helmut Tischlinger I’m told translates as “The creature points to the creator” (or perhaps “calls for a creator”) but more importantly Helmut also offers an explanation for this. The ‘founder’ of the museum was a Catholic priest, Professor Franz Mayr and the museum sits in what was Willibald castle that was taken over by the state of Bavaria from the church in order to found the museum. However Mayr was no creationist but a firm supporter of evolution and (as you might guess from the ‘Professor’ bit) a scientific researcher. This quote of his about Archaeopteryx refers to a position more that such wonders of nature do reveal (to him at least) the glory of god. In short, it is more about the wonder of discovery and the beauty of the fossils, and I can hardly complain about that.

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