Archaeopteryx (photo)


27 Responses to “Archaeopteryx (photo)”

  1. Robert Holmen says:

    When they are chipping the stone away to get to the fossil (also stone), how do they know when to stop since the fossil and the stone appear to be pretty much the same?

    • zarray says:

      I think the sand stone forms in layers.

    • alexb says:

       They split the slabs and the fossils are revealed in the centre. The fossils usually divide unevenly, so one side has part of the skeleton and the other part of the slab has the rest. This second part is called the counterpart.
      The neck is twisted back like that because after death the ligament running along the back of the neck shortens. It’s a very common characteristic of dinosaur and bird fossils.

  2. The Funky Chicken is a much older dance than I realized.

  3. mesocosm says:

    I lived two blocks from that museum for two months last year and never went. Oops!

  4. Flashman says:

    This fossil was also the basis of the logo of the Arc’teryx company , designed back when they rebranded themselves from being plain old Rock Solid.

  5. Christian Lev says:

    and the basis for the logo of uber-awesome Arc’teryx brand of outdoor gear -

  6. Jim Saul says:

    How elegant. It looks like Icarus, falling through the clouds.

  7. Ian Wood says:



  8. zarray says:

    So did it have a fatal neck break or did it’s head just get twisted after death?

  9. Marja Erwin says:

    The Solnhofen limestones formed at the bottom of shallow, rarely-disturbed lagoons. This made for very thin, very flat layering in the stone. This was quarried to make thin flat slabs for lithographic printing, hence the name Archaeopteryx lithographica. This also made for ideal fossil preservation, and the fossils tend to be in the soft spots between layers. This Archaeopteryx specimen is actually between two slabs – this one with most of the fossilized bones and the counterslab with at least the matching feather and bone impressions. This slab and the counterslab should align perfectly.

    The neck twist is extremely common in dinosaurian and avian fossils. I’m not sure how common it is outside the group, I hope an actual paleontologist can weigh in. I think it is because the back neck ligaments contract after death. I think it also occurs in modern birds.

    I believe most of the Solnhofen fossils are of marine life, and marine fossils were common enough that it was standard procedure to check for fossils at the quarries. I think there are also many more pterosaur fossils than Archaeopteryx fossils.

  10. cbm says:

    It looks like it’s doing a dance from some Peanuts animated thing.

  11. tacochuck says:

    I thought it was here on BoingBoing I read about this, but maybe not, however, I would just mention, you can see a very nice Archaeopteryx in Thermopolis, Wyoming at the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum.

    I have heard you should call to confirm it will be there when visiting as they loan it out semi often.

    I am going next month :)

    Edit: It was here I read about it

    Anyway, I just wanted to remind folks if they are interested, there is one in North America.

  12. mecki says:

    Back in the bad old days of the DDR, my parents and I made the pilgrimage to East Berlin to visit this. We went mainly because we have a copy of it hanging on our wall at home; some company made casts of the fossil and then made paper positives of it. When we finally made it to the museum and made our way to the Archaeopteryx, we were stunned at how good our copy at home was – it looked exactly the same. In fact, it looked so much alike that we asked. And were told that this was, of course, a copy, that the original was way too valuable to be hanging in a museum, and was in fact locked up in the basement vault. I certainly hope that that’s no longer the case.

    • Culturedropout says:

       So is it wrong that I read half your message before I figured out you weren’t talking about “Dance, Dance, Revolution”? x.x

      P.S.  – that’s an amazing fossil; not sure what the scale is, though.  Is the critter 2 feet tall, or 10 feet tall?

  13. benher says:

    Damn, this thing was put here to test my faith – with it’s awesomeness!

  14. Scott Elyard says:

    Easily one of my favorite fossils.

  15. Amelia_G says:

    I’m amazed by how delicately this was obtained in the 19th century! Was it accidental, this particular fossil just split open like that?? Phoenix rising.

  16. Am I the only person who sees Jesus / elvis/ the virgin mary in that fossil?

  17. Amelia_G says:

    Didn’t mean to imply magic! I was thinkin’ that for a fossil this exquisite to survive from then, that many others were probably unintentionally destroyed. And it would be great to end this comment on an up note.

  18. Tetsubo Kanamono says:

    But remember, THIS. IS. NOT. A. TRANSITIONAL. FOSSIL.  I have been so assured by creationists on the interwebs.

  19. Genre Slur says:

    I’m all for evolution, but Fred Hoyle found this fishy. Just for fun folks, no need to ‘bite’ back lol

    • Mister44 says:

       Yeah – but did you read the whole thing on why Fred is wrong? There have been claims of fakery since it was found, but it has held up. With all the fossils from China with feathers, we now see feathers were around and Archy isn’t unique in that respect any more.

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