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Carving the Archaeopteryx

Is it a bird or a reptile? Or maybe a bit of both?

By: James M. Norton
Updated March 26, 2021
Carving the Archaeopteryx

One of the most iconic and widely recognized fossils in the world is that of the Berlin specimen of the avian ancestor Archaeopteryx lithographica, discovered around 1877 in a quarry near Eichstätt, Germany. This and other Archaeopteryx fossil discoveries seemed to confirm the theory of evolution described by Charles Darwin in his 1849 publication, The Origin of Species. Archaeopteryx appeared to be a clearly transitional form that combined the feathered wings and body of a bird with the teeth, forelimbs, and long bony tail of a reptile. I have long been fascinated by this fossil and by ongoing discussions about the origins of birds and the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, so I decided to do a woodcarving project depicting the Archaeopteryx.

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