Dinosaur Series: Archaeopteryx

The Archaeopteryx (Archaeopteryx lithographica) is a small pterosaur, a cousin of the dinosaur, in the Archaeopterygidae family. Archaeopteryx means ancient wings. 

Palaeontologists think it was the oldest known bird that was on the Earth. It lived in the Late Jurassic period around 150 million years ago in the land that it now called Europe.


Scientists are still debating its status because its skeleton mixes dinosaur characteristics (teeth and a long tail made up of vertebrae) and bird characteristics (wings and feathers). So, is it a bird or is it a dinosaur? 

It had small teeth (unlike birds of today), feathers, a long bony tail, and two legs with three clawed digits on ech leg. 

It moved in ‘flat flights’ but the structure of its wings should allow it to fly for short distances.

Palaeontologists think it grew to the size of a crow – about 50 centimetres (20 inches) tall. 

The Archaeopteryx is part of an exhibition called “Evolution on the Road to Enlightenment.” The palaeontologist department of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris held the exhibition of dinosaurs from December 2021 to January 2022 in conjuction with the China Light Festival. 


Location of photographs: National Museum of Natural History, Paris, France

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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