Archaeopteryx bavarica: the Munich specimen, is a basal scansoriopterygid

Earlier we looked at the nesting of other Archaeopteryx specimens. Here we’ll add a sixth, the Munich specimen, Archaeopteryx bavarica (Wellnhofer 1993, Figs. 1-4).

Figure 1. The Munich specimen of Archaeopteryx bavarica nests at the base of the scansoropterygids. It has a long third finger and other traits.

Figure 1. The Munich specimen of Archaeopteryx bavarica nests at the base of the scansoropterygids. It has a long third finger and other traits. Click to enlarge.

A. bavarica
is largely complete, lacking only a maxilla and a few rostral bones. What sets this specimen apart are several traits, among them a long finger three, longer than finger 2.

Figure 2. Archaeopteryx bavarica, the Munich specimen, is shown here with elements traced. The hands and feet are reconstructed and a possible clavicle is identified.

Figure 2. Archaeopteryx bavarica, the Munich specimen, is shown here with elements traced. The hands and feet are reconstructed and a possible clavicle is identified. Click to enlarge.

The skull has been disarticulated
but the parts can be put back together. (Fig. 3). If valid, the only large bones I can’t seem to identify are the maxillae. Perhaps they are buried are further scattered beyond the matrix. The premaxillae are broken into several pieces. The dentaries remain connected by anteriorly, taphonomically widened in situ.

Figure 3. The skull of Archaeopteryx bavarica traced and reconstructed.

Figure 3. The skull of Archaeopteryx bavarica traced and reconstructed. The maxilla is missing here.

Here I add
the Munich specimen of Archaeopteryx to the large reptile tree (Fig. 4) and recover it basal to the Scansoropterygidae, the clade of basal birds that shares a long finger 3. Here all of the employed Archaeoptetryx specimens are sisters, yet they nest at the bases of three clades of derived birds. This aspect of their interrelationships has not been explored previously (to my knowledge). Rather only one (or perhaps two when Wellnhoferia was employed) Solnhofen birds have been employed in prior studies.

Figure 4. Here I add the Munich specimen of Archaeopteryx to the large reptile tree and recover it basal to the Scansoropterygidae, the clade of basal birds that shares a long finger 3.

Figure 4. Here I add the Munich specimen of Archaeopteryx to the large reptile tree and recover it basal to the Scansoropterygidae, the clade of basal birds that shares a long finger 3. All of the employed Archaeoptetryx specimens are sisters, yet they nest at the bases of three clades of derived birds. This aspect of their phylogeny has not been explored previously. Rather only one Archaeopteryx has been employed in prior studies.

The nesting of A. bavarica 
at the base of the Scansoriopterygidae provides a fitting finish to this multi-post study, based on a hunch that there was more variety in Solnhofen basal birds than the generic name of Archaeopteryx might suggest. Others have also noticed differences (so no novel hypotheses here) and some have erected new species for referred specimens. Some have not. Others have created new genera. I don’t think anyone has yet employed these six, or any six specimens of Solnhofen birds in a large phylogenetic analysis. This post can be a starting point for for just such an experiment conducted by academics. I am not the person to do it, as so many referees on so many rejected papers have indicated previously. And… I have not seen any of these specimens firsthand. But I have included them in a large gamut phylogenetic analysis (Fig. 4).

Figure 1. The six tested Solnhofen birds currently named Archaeopteryx, Jurapteryx and Wellnhoferia.

Figure 5. The six tested Solnhofen birds currently named Archaeopteryx, Jurapteryx and Wellnhoferia.

References
Wellnhofer P 1993. Das siebte Exemplar von Archaeopteryx aus den Solnhofener Schichten. Archaeopteryx 11; pp. 1-48,

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