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Archaeopteryx plumage: First show off, then take-off
Date:7/3/2014

oited these structures in different ways." The new results also contradict the theory that powered avian flight evolved from earlier four-winged species that were able to glide.

A cultural treasure

Archaeopteryx represents a transitional form between reptiles and birds and is the best-known, and possibly the earliest, bird fossil. It proves that modern birds are directly descended from predatory dinosaurs, and are themselves essentially modern-day dinosaurs. The many new fossil species of feathered dinosaurs discovered in China in recent years have made it possible to place Archaeopteryx within a larger evolutionary context. However, when feathers first appeared and how often flight evolved are matters that are still under debate.

The eleventh known specimen of Archaeopteryx is still in private hands. Like all other examples of the genus, it was found in the Altmhl valley in Bavaria, which in Late Jurassic times lay in the northern tropics, and at the bottom of a shallow sea, as all Archaeopteryx fossils found so far have been recovered from limestone deposits. "The collector was not only willing to make the specimen available for study, he also had it registered on the list of protected German Cultural Treasures to ensure that it would remain accessible to science. This is a very good example of successful cooperation between private collectors and academic paleontologists," says Rauhut. The detailed analysis of the fossil was made possible by financial support from the Volkswagen Foundation.


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Contact: Luise Dirscherl
presse@lmu.de
0049-892-180-3423
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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