Monday, July 10, 2017

Archeopteryx

Archaeopteryx is a bird that has sparked quite a bit of debate ever since its fossils were discovered in Germany in the mid-19th century. It was described and named by Hermann von Meyer in 1861. Its name means “ancient wing.” It lived during the Late Jurassic Period, about 150 years ago and flew over what is now known as Europe, but at the time was
an archipelago of islands in a shallow tropical sea, much closer to the Equator than it is today.

Similar in shape and size to a modern-day magpie, Archaeopteryx was 30 cm long, and weighed between 300 - 500 grams. It had legs that were longer than what birds usually possess and its wings were asymmetrical – which means that it probably used them to generate lift for flight. However, what scientists don’t currently know about this bird was whether it could fly by flapping its wings or if it had to employ some form of gliding strategy.

Some scientists have referred to it as a bird-like dinosaur and other scientists have referred to it as the first bird.The truth, most likely, is that it is a “missing link” between dinosaurs and birds and was in a transitional form between a dinosaur and a bird.Despite its small size, broad wings, and the inferred ability to fly or glide, this prehistoric animal had more features in common with the other dinosaurs from the Age of Reptiles (such as jaws full of sharp teeth, long bony tail, etc.) than with modern birds.

Archaeopteryx pictures show this bird with a wide-variety of different colors of feathers. Some artists show them as having blue or green feathers accented with red and gold, while other artists show them as being solid colors such as brown or gray. However, the truth of the matter is that the feathers of this bird were more than likely black. This has been confirmed using X-ray analysis of the fossils.

One of the most interesting facts about Archaeopteryx is that it might have had a primitive warm-blooded metabolism – meaning that it could generate body heat on its own. However, its metabolic system probably wasn’t as fine-tuned as warm-blooded animals today, so it had a slower growth rate than most birds and probably ate a lot less. It was a carnivore, so it probably fed off of some of the small animals that were available at the time.