Mini-Museum of Geology & Natural History

Dividing Line

WVGES acquires museum-quality replica of Archaeopteryx, the first bird, and one of the most famous fossils in the world

The Berlin Specimen, Archaeopteryx lithographia (ancient wing)
Age: Late Jurassic
Locality: Solnhofen Limestone, Germany
Donated by: Ray Garton

What has reptilian teeth, a long bony tail, three-clawed fingers on each forearm, and feathers? Archaeopteryx, of course. Sometimes referred to as the first bird, we now understand Archaeopteryx to be part of a group related to the ancestors of modern birds. While Archaeopteryx had true feathers and could fly, the creature was mostly dinosaurian in form.

There have been seven specimens of Archaeopteryx found and a single feather found in 1860. Of these, the most famous is on exhibit at the Humboldt University Museum of Natural History in Berlin. Founded in 1877 in Germany's Solnhofen Limestone, this specimen is known as the Berlin specimen, and remains the best preserved Archaeopteryx of those so far discovered. From the claws and feathers on the wings to the teeth in the tiny skull, the Berlin skeleton is a window on bird evolution.

WVGES is the only museum in West Virginia that displays such an accurate replica of this famous skeleton. Of the many copies of the Berlin specimen available, few reflect the original's detail and color as well.

Archaeopteryx lithographia
Archaeopteryx lithographia

Museum Curator: E. Ray Garton: Curator@PrehistoricPlanet.com

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