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Archaeopteryx

Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Here we see a distant ancestor of the bird which lived in the late Jurassic period: around 150 million years ago. It is a fossil of an Urvogel or original bird called Archaeopteryx. The name means: ‘ancient feather’. It’s a bird because it has feathers. You can see very well that birds evolved from reptiles. It has teeth in its bill and claws on its wings. The breastbone in birds normally has a keel to which their flight muscles attach. This original bird does not have the keel, so it was probably unable to fly very well.

The bird’s original ancestors came from a group of dinosaurs. In 1997, a fossil of a feathered dinosaur was found in China. The skeleton of the Archaopteryx is very similar to small species of dinosaur. If the Archaeopteryx had not had feathers, it would have been classified as a dinosaur!

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