Primeval Bird Archaeopteryx

After the refurbishment of the exhibitions in 2007, the original Berlin specimen of primeval bird Archaeopteryx lithographica went on public display for the first time ever. It is supposed to be the best-known fossil in the world.

All ten known specimens were found in the 150-200 million year-old lime deposits near Solnhofen (Bavaria).

Bird and Reptile Features
The two specimens Archaeopteryx lithographica and Archaeopteryx bavaria show characteristics of reptiles as well as birds. Charles Darwin postulated in 1859 that when new species developed, transitional forms would develop, showing characteristics of the old as well as of the new species. At that time, however, no such fossils were known. Archaeopteryx is therefore considered to be an important confirmation of Darwin's theory.

Scientists have now come to the conclusion that the evolution of birds was not a straightforward process and that during the Jurassic period, many species of primeval birds lived alongside each other, all of them showing bird as well as reptile characteristics. It is as yet unclear which line was eventually successful and became the ancestor of modern birds.

Last update: 06.11.2013