Dinosaurs and birds

Surprising though it might seem, scientists now recognize birds as the closest living relatives of dinosaurs. The most primitive bird is Archaeopteryx. In 1861, an Archaeopteryx skeleton together with fossil impressions of its feathers were found in a quarry in Germany. Archaeopteryx lived about 140 million years ago, alongside the dinosaurs that Lightwe;ght

Elongated foot bone

Archaeopteryx skeleton

Compsognathus fossil The fossil skeletons of Compsognathus (above) and Archaeopteryx look very similar. Scientists found an Archaeopteryx skeleton in 1951, but for 22 years they mistakenly thought it was a Compsognathus skeleton.

Compsognathus skeleton

Long tail,

Elongated foot bone

Archaeopteryx skeleton

Compsognathus skeleton

Long tail,

Skeleton Theropod Dinosaurs

Similarities Small theropod dinosaurs, such as Compsognathus, had many features Long in common with fingers Archaeopteryx.

\ These included a lightweight ■

skull, a short body, long, thin limbs, and in some theropods, a wishbone. This helps confirm their close relationship.

Archaeopteryx fossil This fossil skeleton of Archaeopteryx was found in 1877 in Germany. Fossil impressions left by the feathers can be seen clearly. Archaeopteryx was a carnivore. It ate small animals and insects.

flights Archaeopteryx may have spent a lot of time in trees, from which it would have launched itself into flight

Clawed hands - a feature modern birds do not have

Archaeopteryx Skeleton Diagram

Tail feather impressions

Long, dinosaurlike tail

The feathers of Archaeopteryx were similar to those of modern pigeons.

Tail feather impressions

Long, dinosaurlike tail

The feathers of Archaeopteryx were similar to those of modern pigeons.

Clawed hands - a feature modern birds do not have

Delicate impressions of wing feathers

Archaeopteryx facts

The name Archaeopteryx means "ancient wing."

• Lived toward the end of the Jurassic period.

• Archaeopteryx skeletons have been found only in Germany.

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