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“Phantom” Archaeopteryx, one of the world's 1st birds, can probably fly

After years of private collections, a "phantom" fossil of one of the world's first-known birds has finally seen the light…

After years of private collections, a “phantom” fossil of one of the world’s first-known birds has finally seen the light of the day. Now scientists have determined that it is a previously unknown species within the known genus Archeopteryx .

Archeopteryx is a transition fossil in the development of dinosaur to bird. Nevertheless, it may come as a surprise to some people that this rare, large-scale creature is likely to fly during its lifetime, researchers said.

Like other early birds, this Archeopteryx had fingers and sporty little sharp teeth that “could catch and cut bytes like lizards, insects, snails and worms,” ​​says researcher Martin Kundrát, a paleobiologist at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University of Slovakia. [Avian Ancestors: Dinosaurs That Learned to Fly]

“I would describe it as a chicken with teeth and a long bony tail,” told Customer Science for Live Science in an email.

Researcher is called the newfound species Archeopteryx albersdoerferi . The art name honors Raimund Albersdörfer, who owns the test and made it available to researchers, according to the study.

The first known Archaeopteryx was discovered in Bavaria in southern Germany in 1

861. Since then, scientists have studied only 12 skeletons of the 150 million year-old creature, some of them fragmentary. (It is debatable how many species are found in Archeopteryx but there are at least three: A. lithographica, A . Siemensii and the recently named A . albersdoerferi .)

Some functions put the newly analyzed sample apart from previously studied samples. For beginners, the recently named Archeopteryx is about 400,000 years younger than the other known “first birds”, making it the youngest Archeopteryx on record, said Kundrát. A. albersdoerferi is also the second smallest Archeopteryx test, based on the length of the wolf’s wolf (a wing leg), he said.

The fossil (one of the 12 skeletons found so far) was discovered in 1990 in the Mörnsheim formation of Bavaria. “The exchange happened several times before they were sold cheaply to a private collector in the belief that it was a pterosaur,” said Kundrát. “The scientific community was not aware of this test until 1996, when a casting of the sample was shown briefly at the Naturkundemuseum [Natural History Museum] in Bamberg, Germany.”

The original test was known by researchers but was rarely seen and earned the nickname “phantom”. Finally, Albersdörfer bought the fossil from a private collector in 2009 and offered it on long-term loans to the Bavarian state’s collection of palaeontology and geology in Munich. Albersdörfer also wrote a contract saying that he would not sell the sample to a non-public entity and make sure that the fossil would be available to science, “said Kundrát.

To study the test, researchers used synchrotron microtomography, a state-of-the-art 3D X-ray technique. This enabled them to almost reconstruct and dissect A. albersdoerferi fossil, as well as identify skeletal adaptations in the animal that would have helped it fly.

It appears that A. Albersdoerferi was actually a better flyer than the other samples Archeopteryx the researchers said. For example, the newly created creature had thin, airy legs; a larger fortress area of ​​the air muscles on its wishbone; and a reinforced configuration of legs in the wrist and hand. It also had bones in the skull and fewer teeth than the older examples, “said Kundrát.

The virtual survey also revealed that A. Albersdoerferi probably developed flight-related functions as youth, but more testing is needed to say so safely, “says Kundrát.

A family tree analysis also “convinced” the traditional location of Archeopteryx at the beginning of the bird’s evolutionary tree, “said Kundrát. [Photos: This Dinosaur’s Feathers Shimmered with Iridescence]

Research is a good step forward in the study of Archaeopteryx Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK, who was not involved in research.

“What is so important about this new fossil is that it has been studied in detail by means of synchrotrontomography , giving outstanding details about the small properties of the anatomy that are too hard to see with the naked eye, “Brusatte Live Science told.” It is obvious that this new test has many anatomical properties that indicate a flying animal, such as the high vascular axis and the wing and the highly molten and reinforced hand. “

Although researchers have discussed Archeopteryx’s flying abilities for years,” when yes Looking at this new fossil, I see the characteristics of an animal that can pat the wings and stay airborne, “says Brusatte.

The study was published online today (October 25) in journal historical biology. The research is intended to study co-researcher Junchang Lü, a professor at the Geological Institute, the Chinese Academy of Geosciences, who unexpectedly died on October 8 at the age of 53.

Originally published on Live Science.

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