The geologically oldest Archaeopteryx (#12)

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.

Figure 1. The new oldest Archaeopteryx in situ with color tracings of bones.

Figure 1. The new oldest Archaeopteryx in situ with color tracings of bones. The ilium has been displaced to the posterior gastralia, or is absent. I cannot tell with this resolution.

Figure 1b. Archaeopteryx 12 in higher resolution.

Figure 1b. Archaeopteryx 12 in higher resolution.

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.”

Figure 2. Reconstruction of the geologically oldest Archaeopteryx, now nesting at the base of the Scansoriopterygidae.   Note the large premaxillary teeth and short snout on a relatively small skull.

Figure 2. Reconstruction of the geologically oldest Archaeopteryx, now nesting at the base of the Scansoriopterygidae. Note the large premaxillary teeth and short snout on a relatively small skull.

Compared to other Archaeopteryx specimens
you can see the new one is among the smallest (Fig. 3) and has a distinct anatomy.

Figure 2. Several Archaeopteryx specimens. The geologically oldest one, (at bottom) is among the smallest and most derived, indicating an earlier radiation than the Solnhofen formation.

Figure 2. Several Archaeopteryx specimens. The geologically oldest one, (at bottom) is among the smallest and most derived, indicating an earlier radiation than the Solnhofen formation.

References
Spektakulaerer-Fund-kommt-in-Ausstellung-article
originalskelett-eines-archaeopteryx-zu-sehen.html
auf-zum-archaeopteryx

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One thought on “The geologically oldest Archaeopteryx (#12)

  1. I have to share my toughs.
    Well, as far as I know, this in #13, and comes from a late Kimmeridgian sequence -indeed, from near Denkendorf, a privately owned quarry. I know the person who found the specimen, and also I know the owner very well. Surprisingly, the specimen bears an inventory number, and the collection (according to the Bavarian legislation) has a legal status, and -as a highly important cultural-scientific heritage specimen, can’t be regarded as a merchandise. The best known example of similar status is the holotype (and only known specimen) of Sciurimimus (small theropod) recovered from the Rygol quarry in Painten (near Kelheim), of roughly same age (155 MY). Sciurimimus is still in private hands, is exhibited for a limited period of time in the Solnhofen Museum (under the care of Martin Reoper), and was published some years ago, in a high-rank scientific magazine.
    I do not see any problem on evaluating and publishing this specimen. Actually, some guys, already worked on, and very soon, this fabulous “No. 13” will be published.

    What about the almost complete late Cretaceous (not Oligocene) enantiornithin bird, preserving colored feathers and stuff, recently found in Myanmar amber? Is in private hands, and is near to be published. It takes a bit more time, because CT scanning have negative effect on amber, and destroys the specimen. Methodological innovations were needed to evaluate the specimen.

    Still in private hands, still under publication.
    Whatever.

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