Updated November 10, 2016 with higher resolution images of the specimen. The new data moved the taxon over by one node.
Not published yet in any academic journal,
but making the news in the popular press in Germany to promote a dinosaur museum (links below) is the geologically oldest Archaeopteryx specimen (no museum number, privately owned?). Found by a private collector in 2010, the specimen has been declared a Cultural Monument of National Significance. It is 153 million years old, several hundred thousand years older than the prior oldest Archaeopteryx. It is currently on display at a new museum, Dinosaurier-Freiluftmuseum Altmühltal in Germany, about 10 kilometers from where the fossil was found.
So is it also the most primitive Archaeopteryx?
No. But it nests as the most primitive scansioropterygid bird. As we learned earlier, the Solnhofen birds formerly all considered members of the genus Archaeopteryx (some of been subsequently recognized by certain authors as distinct genera) include a variety of sizes, shapes and morphologies (Fig. 3) that lump and separate them on the large reptile tree. The present specimen has been tested, but will not be added to the LRT until it has a museum number or has been academically published (both seem unlikely given the private status). Given the additional publicity the specimen is now in the LRT.
The fossil is wonderfully complete and articulated
and brings the total number of Solnhofen birds to an even dozen.
This just in
Ben Creisler reports, “The fossil specimen was originally found in 2010 in fragmented condition and took great effort to prepare and piece together as it now appears.”
Compared to other Archaeopteryx specimens
you can see the new one is among the smallest (Fig. 3) and has a distinct anatomy.