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Archaeopteryx - the first bird - was discovered in 1861, just 2 years after the publication of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species", providing an example of the "missing links" Darwin inferred in his book, in this case between reptiles and birds.

Eight skeletons and a single feather impression are known, all collected from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen limestones of Bavaria.

Archaeopteryx possesses a unique mix of reptilian and avian characteristics (see table below).



 Long, bony tail  Symmetric feathers
 Hand with 3 separate, clawed digits  Furcula (wishbone)
 Toothed jaws  Wings

Author: Robert Davis
Last updated: 21/11/05

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Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2005-6