Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EARLY EARTH
Early avian evolution: The Archaeopteryx that wasn't
by Staff Writers
Munich, Germany (SPX) Dec 07, 2017


The two slabs that make up the Haarlem specimen, which was thought to be the first Archaeopteryx to be discovered.

Paleontologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich correct a case of misinterpretation: The first fossil "Archaeopteryx" to be discovered is actually a predatory dinosaur belonging to the anchiornithid family, which was previously known only from finds made in China.

Even 150 million years after its first appearance on our planet, Archaeopteryx is still good for surprises. The so-called Urvogel has attained an iconic status well beyond the world of paleontology, and it is one of the most famous fossils ever recovered. In all, a dozen fossil specimens have been assigned to the genus. Archaeopteryx remains the oldest known bird fossil, not only documenting the evolutionary transition from reptiles to birds, but also confirming that modern birds are the direct descendants of carnivorous dinosaurs.

LMU paleontologist Oliver Rauhut and Christian Foth from the Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde in Stuttgart have re-examined the so-called Haarlem specimen of Archaeopteryx, which is kept in Teylers Museum in that Dutch city and has gone down in history as the first member of this genus to be discovered. In the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, Foth and Rauhut now report that this fossil differs in several important respects from the other known representatives of the genus Archaeopteryx.

In fact, their taxonomic analysis displaces it from its alleged perch on the phylogenetic tree: "The Haarlem specimen is not a member of the Archaeopteryx clade," says Rauhut, a paleontologist in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at LMU who is also affiliated with the Bavarian State Collections for Paleontology and Geology in Munich.

Instead, the two scientists assign the fossil to a group of bird-like maniraptoran dinosaurs known as anchiornithids, which were first identified only a few years ago based on material found in China. These rather small dinosaurs possessed feathers on all four limbs, and they predate the appearance of Archaeopteryx.

"The Haarlem fossil is the first member of this group found outside China. And together with Archaeopteryx, it is only the second species of bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic discovered outside eastern Asia. This makes it even more of a rarity than the true specimens of Archaeopteryx," Rauhut says.

Made in China
The Haarlem specimen was found about 10 km to the northeast of the closest Archaeopteryx locality known (Schamhaupten) a full four years before the discovery of the skeleton that would introduce the Urvogel to the scientific world in 1861.

Schamhaupten was once part of the so-called Solnhofen archipelago in the Altmuhl Valley in southern Bavaria, the area from which all known specimens of the genus Archaeopteryx originated. Its taxonomic reassignment therefore provides new insights into the evolution of the bird-like dinosaurs in the Middle to Late Jurassic.

"Our biogeographical analysis demonstrates that the group of dinosaurs that gave rise to birds originated in East Asia - all of the oldest finds have been made in China. As they expanded westward, they also reached the Solnhofen archipelago," says Christian Foth. Thus, the fossil hitherto incorrectly assigned to the genus Archaeopteryx must have been one of the first members of the group to arrive in Europe.

Around 150 million years ago, the area known today as the Altmuhl Valley was dotted with the coral and sponge reefs and lagoons of the Solnhofen archipelago, and the open sea lay to the West and South. The Haarlem fossil was originally recovered from what was then the eastern end of the archipelago, quite close to the mainland. Unlike Archaeopteryx, anchiornithids were unable to fly, and might not have been able to reach areas further offshore.

On the other hand, all true fossils of Archaeopteryx found so far were recovered from the lithographic limestone strata further to the west, closer to the open sea. Based on the new findings, Rauhut argues that other known Archaeopteryx fossils may need reassessment: "Not every bird-like fossil that turns up in the fine-grained limestones around Solnhofen need necessarily be a specimen of Archaeopteryx," he points out.

The authors of the new study have proposed that the Haarlem specimen be assigned to a new genus, for which they suggest the name Ostromia - in honor of the American paleontologist John Ostrom, who first identified the fossil as a theropod dinosaur.

Research paper

EARLY EARTH
Trickle-down is the solution to the planetary core formation problem
Austin TX (SPX) Dec 05, 2017
Scientists have long pondered how rocky bodies in the solar system - including our own Earth - got their metal cores. According to research conducted by The University of Texas at Austin, evidence points to the downwards percolation of molten metal toward the center of the planet through tiny channels between grains of rock. The finding calls into question the interpretation of prior exper ... read more

Related Links
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EARLY EARTH
Pole to pole, linemen hard at work restoring power in Puerto Rico

UN urges 'humanitarian pause' for Yemen

Identifying optimal adaptation of buildings threatened by hurricanes, climate change

Big changes for Florida with mass Puerto Rican immigration

EARLY EARTH
First step toward practical application of holographic memory with magnetic assist

UCLA engineers use deep learning to reconstruct holograms and improve optical microscopy

Study shows how to get sprayed metal coatings to stick

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

EARLY EARTH
Seagrass is a key fishing ground globally

Sea turtles' sad fate: from restaurant menus to plastic 'soup'

Sharks evolved aircraft-like attributes to suit habitats

There's a deeper fish in the sea

EARLY EARTH
Arctic, major fishing nations agree no fishing in Arctic, for now

Antarctic Selfie's Journey to Space via Disruption Tolerant Networking

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

Operation IceBridge 2017: The Beauty of Ice

EARLY EARTH
Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency

What makes soil, soil? Researchers find hidden clues in DNA

Tokyo 2020 to feed IOC food from disaster-hit regions

Robotic device tracks plant growth at the cellular level

EARLY EARTH
Seismologists worried by tremors in DR Congo

Albania sends in military rescue as heavy rains trigger huge floods

Eruption clues: UNH researchers create snapshot of volcano plumbing

New early signals to quantify the magnitude of strong earthquakes

EARLY EARTH
Regional force deploys to Lesotho over security concerns

Mali justice minister resigns after activist's acquittal

Cash and history keep Europe as Africa's prime partner

China hails new Zimbabwe leader, denies role in transition

EARLY EARTH
Trump removes protection for swaths of Utah parks

Chimp females who leave home postpone parenthood

Long-term logging study demonstrates impacts on chimpanzees and gorillas

What grosses out a chimpanzee?




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement