Archaeopteryx: The Thermopolis Specimen

2018-06-14T13:12:26+00:00Exhibitions, Featured Display|

ā€œThe ā€œThermopolis Specimenā€ was discovered in Bavaria, Germany, and has the best-preserved skull and feet of the twelve Archaeopteryx specimens found to date. However, most of the neck and lower jaw have not been preserved.

The ā€œThermopolis Specimenā€ was described by Mayr, Pohl, and Peters in the December 2, 2005 Science Journal. The description shows that the Archaeopteryx lacked a reversed toe, a universal feature of birds, limiting its ability to perch on branches and implying a terrestrial or trunk-climbing lifestyle. This has been interpreted as evidence of theropod ancestry. In 1988, Gregory S. Paul claimed to have found evidence of a hyper-extensible second toe, but this was not verified or accepted by other scientists until the ā€œThermopolis Specimenā€ was described and published. Until recently, the feature was thought to belong only to the speciesā€™ close relatives, the Deinonychosaurs.

The ā€œThermopolis Specimenā€ was assigned to Archaeopteryx Siemensii in 2007. The specimen is considered to represent the most complete and best-preserved Archaeopteryx remains yet. Most of the twelve specimens discovered and scientifically described include impressions of feathers, which make Archaeopteryx a clear candidate for a transitional fossil between birds and dinosaurs. Because these feathers are of an advanced form (flight feathers), these fossils are evidence that the evolution of feathers began before the Late Jurassic.ā€

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