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Archaeopteryx lithographica

1861

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum

An icon of evolutionary debate, Archaeopteryx is now generally acknowledged to be the earliest known bird.

It was named in 1861, just two years after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. The fossils showed traits typical of both birds and dinosaurs, providing a real-world example of Darwin's predicted transitional forms.

Archaeopteryx kickstarted the debate over whether birds evolved from dinosaurs, and had a major impact on our ideas about evolutionary processes.

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  • Title: Archaeopteryx lithographica
  • Date: 1861
  • Location: Bavaria, Germany
  • Subject Keywords: The Rise and Fall of Prehistoric Worlds
  • Age: 150 million years

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