Search Results for 'Archaeopteryx'

Yet More Archaeopteryx – Chicken Wing, Haarlem and Maxberg

I’ve just returned from a brief trip to Germany taking in the Jura Museum, Solnhofen Museum and a quick run up to the Senckenberg in Frankfurt. I was poking around with pterosaurs, birds and dinosaurs and while actually Archaeopteryx didn’t feature in the agenda, I did of course catch up with a few things as it were. As a result, the ever growing Archaeopteryx archive can now be filled in a little as there were some awkward gaps and problems and while still not perfect, I do now have things much better covered than before.

First off, some replacement images for the ‘chicken wing’ specimen in Solnhofen. My previous photos were all out of focus but these should be rather better.IMG_7376



Next we have a cast of the Haarlem specimen from the Jura Museum, and this is backed by a cast from the Senckenberg below. Neither is ideal, I’d still love to see and shoot the original, but between them they have some good coverage of the specimen.


Finally, here is a series of photos of casts of the lost Maxberg specimen – again from both Jura (first) and Senckenberg. Neither the Maxberg or Haarlem have featured on here before and so while still only covered by casts, really does flesh out the archive rather well.





More on the 11th Archaeopteryx

DSCF9843Continuing my collection / database of Archaeopteryx images, it’s time to increase it a little further. Last week I helped out at the Natural History Museum’s ‘open evening’ called “Science Uncovered”. I was there basically to be a scientist for people to talk to, but there were whole stands from other universities with research connected to the NHM and of course a raft of curators, researchers and other staff bringing the behind-the-scences stuff to the front of house. One special had been laid on that really drew the crowds – the 11th Archaeopteryx specimen.

Although it has appeared on here before, this is the first time I had seen it and was able to take some notes of features and indeed get a few photos. The lighting was absolutely nightmarish, but between tons of photos and a bit of tweaking of balance levels I have produced at least a few that are not too terrible, though at not very high resolution and mostly taken at a pretty low angle. Enjoy (as far as you can).





Berlin Archaeopteryx


I’m just back from a quick visit to Berlin and so once I’ve caught up with all the usual stuff that gets behind from being away there’ll be some blogs coming on the exhibitions, Berlin Tier Park and others. Meantime though, here’s the Berlin Archaeopteryx. I have seen this magnificent and legendary specimen a couple of times before and have some old analogue photos, but now have some nice shiny digital ones to put up here. Oddly this is the one obvious specimen that’s been missing from my ‘collection‘. It has been on here before thanks to Heinrich Mallison, but now I can add my own shots to flesh this out with a couple more.




It was suggested to me not too long ago that I might well have the best and most extensive collection of images of Archaeopteryx specimens online. Between having seen quite a few of these on display and having taken photos myself, plus the near endless collection generously sent on by Helmut Tischlinger of his UV works, nearly every specimen is on here and most with multiple views, close-ups and in UV. I am still missing a couple, but I’d have to agree that I’ve yet to see any online collection that can rival mine. Still, they are scatted around all manner of posts and so aren’t necessarily that easy to find. No more, here’s they are all are for convenience.

Cast of the London specimen

The Berlin specimen

The Berlin specimen returns

The Munich specimen

Mayr with the Eichstaett specimen

Eichstaett, Thermopolis and Berlin in UV

Solnhofen, Eichstaett and ‘chicken-wing’ specimens

Close-ups of the Solnhofen specimen

Solnhofen specimen in black and white

The Thermopolis specimen

The Daiting specimen (and in UV)

The most recent (11th) specimen (and in UV)

More on the 11th specimen

Yet more Archaeopteryx – Chicken Wing, Haarlem and Maxberg

If you have others you are happy to share and have permission to distribute, do please let me know and send them on. This is simply there as a reference collection for people to learn and work with, but obviously more (or better, not all of these are great) would be lovely to have and make this still more useful. I know there are some scans and images out there and it’d be great to round this out as a clearing-house for people who want to see and compare these specimens.

Archaeopteryx Coin

Now sure the 150th anniversary of the description of Archaeopteryx was last year, but I’ve only just got my hands on one of the specially minted coins from the German mint. For this I have to thank Helmut Tischlinger who knew I was after one and extremely generously got hold of a spare and sent it my way, I am very grateful. You may well have seen one of these before however, as Larry Witmer got one early and included it on his big roundup of the whole schebang last year.

Not that I know much about coins (thought I’ve seen a hell of a lot over the years with the number of countries I’ve visited) but it is extremely well cast and the detail is impressive. It’s certainly a nice addition to my tiny collection of Archaeopteryx memorabilia (like this one), now I just need to find my Berlin medal….

Bits of Archaeopteryx

What’s a bit more Archaeopteryx between friends eh? After the ‘clearing house’ that was the last two posts, I’ve since found yet more photos of specimens that I have never used. This is the generally somewhat horrible to be honest Burgermeister-Mueller specimen, though while the head and body of this one are not great, as you can see here, the hands and feet are actually pretty good (though my pictures could be better).

Munich Archaeopteryx

While writing yesterday’s little post about the Berlin Archaeopteryx, I realised that of all the specimens I had covered on here, somehow the Munich one had never made it. A dig though my files turned up a couple of far-from-perfect photos of this very-nearly-perfect cast on display at the BSPG. I’m still a couple short of the full set, but especially given all the UV stuff I have kindly been loaned, I can’t help suspect this is collectively the most complete set of Archie photos online. It was never an intention, but does seem to have happened.

Berlin Archaeopteryx

I have managed to get decent pictures of nearly every Archaeopteryx specimen on here at one time or another. For those who have missed out, there’s Daiting, Eichstaett, London, Bergermeister-Mueller, Thermopolis, the ‘new’ specimen, the ‘chicken wing’ (and a couple of others), and various ones in UV. One that has done badly as it were, is Berlin. The most famous of the lot and to date all I have shown is a grainy old image from when the leg feathers were still present. Finally though, here is a good quality photo of the whole thing.

Sadly for me, it’s not because I have been back to Berlin where this is now permanently on public display, but comes courtesy of Heinrich Mallison who kindly took this for me.


Another Archaeopteryx

This has been doing the rounds for a few days so I’d be very surprised if any regular readers didn’t know this already but a new Archaeopteryx has turned up. There’s little information on it right now but it is apparently, and sadly, in private hands. It’s mostly complete and with a cracking set of feet (and nice curvature to the tail) though there’s only a few bits of skull preserved.

Helmut Tischlinger has been kind enough to send me high-res copies of the photos of the beast and to put them up here. They are rather clearly tagged as his copyrighted material and they are ‘on loan’ to me so to speak. Please do not copy, download, link directly too, or use without *his* permission.


The London Archaeopteryx

Thanks to my work and trips to Germany I’ve been able to cover a great many of the known Archaeopteryx specimens on here. One obvious omission however is the London specimen, despite its likely soon-to-be holotype status for the genus. Although I’ve seen the original and a number of casts, this is the first time I’ve been in a position to show this off. These photos are from a very nice cast on display at the IVPP and while there is never anything quite like the original of something, this is an excellent copy.

I should of course add for those who don’t know, that the various Archaeopteryx specimens are informally named for the location of the institute that houses them, hence the London, Berlin, Munich Haarlem specimens. The London specimen does hot hail from any quarry in the UK!

The historical impact of Archaeopteryx

Believe it or not, I’m trying to cut down on the Archaeopteryx posts but well, it is a big anniversary and it is such a very cool animal with many interesting and important facets to it’s scientific life that I don’t seem to be able to stop. One thing that really should get a mention is the small role it played it buoying up Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the initial publication of the Origin lead to rather  mixed reviews. While it did have a number of important and influential supporters, it also inevitably came in for some really strong criticism. Darwin has quite rightly noted a number of major problems with his own work and there were certainly some gaps that needed to be filled sooner or later. One of these (which is of course still ludicrously trumpeted by the creationists) was the apparent lack of transitional fossils. If Darwin was right and birds and mammals had come from reptiles, amphibians from fish and so one, then where were all those in-betweens?

The obvious short answer is that 150 years ago the fossil record had only just begun to be explored. We didn’t have many dinosaurs yet (which were nice and big and preserved in big numbers in well explored countries like the US and Belgium) let alone all manner of well, just about everything. Palaeontology as a field was only just getting going and there were very few researchers doing relatively little research and they’d not done much. We now of course have enormously detailed and complete transitional series for the origins of whales and amphibians and vertebrates and all kinds of others. We do of course also know a great deal about the origin of birds, but in addition to its important phylogenetic position, Archaeopteryx very publicly plugged one of those big gaps.

Coming to light a just a couple of years after the publication of the Origin, it was a clear and obvious fillup for Darwin and vindication of his ideas. Here was something that was obviously a bird (it had feathers) but obviously not quite a bird (it had teeth and a long tail and clawed fingers). It was part bird and part reptile –  a halfway house. Darwin obviously recognised the fact and it must have been enormously gratifying to see something like this turn up. In a letter to a colleague in 1893 he wrote:

“The fossil Bird with the long tail & fingers to its wings is by far the greatest prodigy of recent times. It is a grand case for me; as no group was so isolated as Birds; & it shows how little we know what lived during former times.”

And he also took a letter from another colleague that same year that clearly referenced this fact as well:

““You were never more missed—at any rate by me—for there has been this grand Darwinian case of the Archaeopteryx for you and me to have a long jaw about”.

Darwin was therefore well aware of just what Archaeopteryx could do for his ideas and as he notes, the birds had seemed an especially disparate group compared to other vertebrates yet here was an obvious transition, or at least possible connection, between birds and reptiles. Perhaps more importantly, this obviously was recognised by his colleagues as well and provided a strong case that the fossil record had much more to say about the theory of evolution and that what it would say might well support Darwin. The timing was really quite perfect then.

Thanks to Rich Tabor and Brian Switek for helping me track down those quotes.

The Eichstaett Archaeopteryx

Yesterday I made mention of Professor Franz Mayr and his relation to the Jura Museum in Eichstaett in southern Germany. And here, thanks to Helmut Tischlinger, is a photo of the man himself with the Eichstaett specimen of Archaeopteryx. The photo is from 1972 (just two years before he died) and was taken to mark the completion of the preparation work on the specimen that was undertaken by Prof. Mayr and Ludwig Meier.

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