Biggest European carnivorous dinosaur discovery in Portugal

Torvosaurus tanneri in Madrid museum


Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp., the Largest Terrestrial Predator from Europe, and a Proposed Terminology of the Maxilla Anatomy in Nonavian Theropods

Christophe Hendrickx, Octávio Mateus

Published: March 05, 2014


The Lourinhã Formation (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of Central West Portugal is well known for its diversified dinosaur fauna similar to that of the Morrison Formation of North America; both areas share dinosaur taxa including the top predator Torvosaurus, reported in Portugal.

The material assigned to the Portuguese T. tanneri, consisting of a right maxilla and an incomplete caudal centrum, was briefly described in the literature and a thorough description of these bones is here given for the first time. A comparison with material referred to Torvosaurus tanneri allows us to highlight some important differences justifying the creation of a distinct Eastern species.

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp. displays two autapomorphies among Megalosauroidea, a maxilla possessing fewer than eleven teeth and an interdental wall nearly coincidental with the lateral wall of the maxillary body. In addition, it differs from T. tanneri by a reduced number of maxillary teeth, the absence of interdental plates terminating ventrally by broad V-shaped points and falling short relative to the lateral maxillary wall, and the absence of a protuberant ridge on the anterior part of the medial shelf, posterior to the anteromedial process.

T. gurneyi is the largest theropod from the Lourinhã Formation of Portugal and the largest land predator discovered in Europe hitherto. This taxon supports the mechanism of vicariance that occurred in the Iberian Meseta during the Late Jurassic when the proto-Atlantic was already well formed. A fragment of maxilla from the Lourinhã Formation referred to Torvosaurus sp. is ascribed to this new species, and several other bones, including a femur, a tibia and embryonic material all from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian of Portugal, are tentatively assigned to T. gurneyi. A standard terminology and notation of the theropod maxilla is also proposed and a record of the Torvosaurus material from Portugal is given.

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Fossils of England’s Jurassic Coast

This video from England says about itself:

24 Aug 2012

I was lucky to be able to video UK fossil expert Steve Etches when he discovered and excavated this fossil Ichthyosaur skull on Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast, ‘somewhere near Weymouth’ in August 2012.

From Science News:

Hunting fossils in England

Discoveries have been made at Monmouth Beach for more than two centuries

by Sarah Zielinski

10:00am, January 21, 2014

As rain plopped onto our jackets, my tour group huddled against the side of the Lyme Regis Museum on the southwest coast of England, struggling to hear our fossil-hunting guide over the sound of wind and waves.

“This is really the weather you want for fossil collecting,” said marine biologist Chris Andrew, the museum’s education director. “It lets the fossils wash down from the cliffs.” And, he explained, “a bit of rain keeps everyone else at home.”

A friend and I spent a week hunting fossils along the Jurassic Coast, a 150-kilometer stretch of English coastline just a few hours by train from London. In the 18th and 19th centuries, geologists came to the region to study the neatly stacked layers of rock, which date to 250 million to 65 million years ago and provided evidence that the Earth was much older than the 6,000 years many thought at the time. But it’s the fossils that have proved the long-term draw. Now, science tourists find not only some of the easiest fossil hunting for beginners, but one of few places where they will be encouraged to take fossils home.

On Monmouth Beach, just west of the center of Lyme Regis, amateur and professional collectors have been making discoveries for more than two centuries. The rocks are some 200 million years old and hold the remains of an ancient deep sea. Ammonites are the most common finds, their coiled, nautilus-like shells easy to spot on the rocky shore. There’s even an ammonite graveyard, where hundreds of large coils are still buried in the rock. These invertebrates were once at the base of the marine food web, providing meals for large vertebrates such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs, Andrew explains to our group.

Famed fossil hunter Mary Anning discovered the world’s first complete plesiosaur along this coast in 1823, a dozen years after her family uncovered the first ichthyosaur. The region holds the remains of more than just sea life, though. Among Anning’s other discoveries were an early Jurassic pterosaur, called Dimorphodon. And the bones of an armored dinosaur called Scelidosaurus were discovered washing out of the cliffs near Charmouth in the 1850s. The cliffs are still releasing important finds, such as a new 130-million-year-old crocodile species named for Rudyard Kipling in 2012.

Andrew and his co-leader, geologist Ben Brooks, show examples of what to look for: the pointed tips of belemnites, semicircles or bathtub shapes that indicate bivalve shells and the starfish-shaped stems of sea lilies. Round or hexagonal black rocks, indented on both sides, are ichthyosaur vertebrae.

But before we could look for fossils, Brooks gave a lesson on safety and the fossil code. There are dangers, such as cliff falls and tides. Most collecting from the beach is legal because whatever isn’t picked up just washes into the sea. Yet it’s not quite a free-for-all, and digging directly into the cliffs requires permission. “We don’t want scientifically important specimens disappearing,” Brooks said.

Only the children were guaranteed fossils on this guided trip, courtesy of Brooks and Andrew. But that afternoon and the following ones, my friend and I tested Andrew’s best piece of advice: “You’re looking for regular patterns in the rock,” he told us. We quickly met success along the beaches at Lyme Regis and nearby Charmouth, finding dozens of ammonites, pieces of belemnites, bits of ichthyosaur rib and sea lilies, and even a globelike sea urchin. The prize find went to my friend, now the proud owner of a coprolite: a piece of fossilized excrement.

Dinosaur footprints discovery in India

This video is called Jurassic Park of India.

It says about itself:

15 Jan 2013

Raiyoli Dinosaur fossil park is the 3rd largest dinosaur park in the world, visitors can see the real fossils of the dinosaurs embedded in the rock as well as real dinosaurs eggs.

From the Press Trust of India:

Dinosaur footprints found near Jaisalmer

January 13, 2014 16:42 IST

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan: A team of foreign and Indian scientists have spotted the footprints of dinosaurs at Thaiat village in Jaisalmer district, sources said today.

A team of 34 foreign scientists from a number of countries including France and Germany are camping in Jaisalmer to study fossils of dinosaurs found in sandy desert areas near the city recently.

Dinosaurs‘ evolution, extinction, and paleo-bio-genography is the centre of their research related to fossils, they added.

Yesterday, the team led by Dr Jan Schlogl of Slovakia observed the footprints in one of the basal rocks of Thaiat scarp section and Professor Gregory Pienkowski of Poland identified the footprints as those of Pterosaurs or the flying dinosaur.

Pterosaurs lived in the age of dinosaurs, but were not dinosaurs themselves.

“The first footprint was small, only 5 cm long, but perfectly imprinted on the upper surface of a sandstone bed. Its shape and name is clear – it is called Grallator, a specific name given to the footprint, left by a small predatory dinosaur. The footprint maker was not bigger than an hen”, according to the sources.

However, the second foot print was much bigger – about 30 cms long. Such tridactyl footprint (three toes) is named Eurontes giganteus and it must have been left by a much bigger creature, the sources added.

Dr P K Pandey of the Geology Department at University of Rajasthan had already recorded petrosaur bore fragments during the previous years.

Near the Thaiat village on the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur highway there is an outcrop of Jurassic rocks.

Careful geological observation by the team allowed them to interpret ancient environments in which these rocks (once soft sediments) were deposited, according to Dr Pandey.

It could be imagined that a vast coastal zone of which the Jurassic sea would be encroached some 180 million years ago, he added.

These scientists have come to Rajasthan on the sidelines of the 9th International Congress on The Jurassic System, held between January 6-9th, organised by Department of Geology, University of Rajasthan in Jaipur.

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Biggest fossil spider, new discoveries

The largest known fossil spiders (left: male, right: female) belong to a newly described species of extinct arachnids, Mongolarachne jurassica. Credit: Paul Selden

From LiveScience:

Biggest Spider Fossil Now Has a Mate — But It’s Complicated

By Megan Gannon, News Editor

December 16, 2013 02:44pm ET

A few years ago, scientists uncovered the largest-ever fossil of [a] spider: a female representative of a never-before-seen species that was buried in volcanic ash during the age of the dinosaurs.

Now the researchers say they have found an adult male spider to match, but the discovery complicates the original interpretation of the species. The scientists have proposed a new genus — Mongolarachne — to describe the extinct creature.

When researchers first found the female spider in northern China, they named it Nephila jurassica, putting it in the Nephila genus of golden silk orb-weavers, which still exist today and have been known to ensnare birds and bats in their huge wheel-shaped webs. [Ewww! See Photos of Bat-Eating Spiders in Action]

“It was so much like the modern golden orb weaver,” said Paul Selden, a paleontologist with the University of Kansas. “We couldn’t find any reason not to put it in the same genus of the modern ones.”

With soft, squishy bodies, spiders don’t typically turn up in the fossil record, but several hundred have been found in the volcanic deposits at the Daohugou fossil beds in Inner Mongolia, Selden said.

Volcanic ash is famous for preserving more ephemeral pieces of the past, from bodies buried in their death poses at Pompeii to 2.7-billion-year-old raindrop impressions found in South Africa. Researchers think these spiders were likely swept to the bottom of a sub-tropical lake and covered in fine ash after a volcano blew its lid.

Unlike insects, spiders are typically pretty good at staying away from water, Selden explained.

“It would take something like a volcanic eruption to blow them into the bottom of the lake and bury them,” Selden told LiveScience. “That’s the sort of scenario we imagine.”

And in that volcanic rock layer at Daohugou, the researchers found another spider that looked remarkably similar to Nephila jurassica, except it was male. There were several clues in the newfound fossil, however, that suggest this ancient arachnid just doesn’t fit the bill for Nephila.

First of all, the male was remarkably quite similar in size to the female, with a body that measures 0.65 inches (1.65 centimeters) long and a first leg stretching 2.29 inches (5.82 cm).

“This is rather strange,” Selden said. “In the modern orb weavers, there is quite a lot of sexual dimorphism,” with a huge female and a tiny male.

Compared with Nephila male spiders, this newfound fossilized male had more primitive-looking pedipalps — the sex appendages between a spider’s jaws and first legs that it uses to transfer sperm to the female. And it had a more feathery hairstyle: The fossil was preserved so well that Selden could look at imprints of the spider’s hair under an electron microscope. Instead of one or two scales along each bristle, Selsen said he saw evidence that this spider had “spirals of hairlets” along the strands covering its body.

The researchers think the fossilized spiders may actually be more closely related to spiders in the Deinopoidea genus, also called ogre-faced spiders. Arachnids in this group are considered orbicularians. They also make orb-shaped webs, but their silk is more “woolly,” Selden said, with a stickiness that’s more like Velcro than glue.

Revising their original labeling of the giant fossilized female spider, the researchers created a new genus and species name for the pair: Mongolarachne jurassica. Selden and colleagues also created a branch for Mongolarachne on a phylogenic tree, placing it quite close to the stem where orbicularians originate.

The study was published online Dec. 7 in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

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Could ancient bird Archaeopteryx fly?

This video says about itself:

The evolution of birds is thought to have begun in the Jurassic Period, with the earliest birds derived from theropod dinosaurs. Birds are categorized as a biological class, Aves. The earliest known species of class Aves is Archaeopteryx lithographica, from the Late Jurassic period, though Archaeopteryx is not commonly considered to have been a true bird. Modern phylogenies place birds in the dinosaur clade Theropoda. According to the current consensus, Aves and a sister group, the order Crocodilia, together are the sole living members of an unranked “reptile” clade, the Archosauria.

From Nature:

Theory suggests iconic early bird lost its flight

Archaeopteryx anatomy matches that of modern flightless birds.

Matt Kaplan

12 November 2013

Although it has long been debated whether the proto-bird Archaeopteryx was able to actually fly or merely evolving toward that ability, to date nobody had yet seriously suggested that it could have been instead in the midst of losing its ability to fly. But that is precisely what Michael Habib, a biologist at the University of Southern California proposed last week to a packed hall at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Los Angeles.

With the skeleton of a dinosaur and the feathers of a bird, Archaeopteryx has long been hailed as marking the transition from dinosaurs to birds.

The idea that it was instead evolving to lose its flight and becoming flightless again, or ‘secondarily flightless’, occurred to Habib while he was calculating limb ratios and degrees of feather symmetry in Archaeopteryx, and comparing the values to those of living birds, to better understand its flying ability. In doing so, he found that the creature’s traits were surprisingly similar to those of modern flightless birds such as rails and grebes that frequently dwell on islands.

“We know Archaeopteryx was living on an archipelago during the Jurassic. And with its feathers and bones looking so much like modern flightless island birds, it just makes me wonder,” says Habib.

When Archaeopteryx was first discovered, it was the earliest known feathered dinosaur, and the argument that it was evolving towards flightlessness might have been considered madness. But with the discovery in recent years of many earlier feathered dinosaurs with anatomies tailored for flight, the idea is being seriously considered.

Before the first birds could take flight, they needed a lift from a surprise source: pigments in their feathers: here.

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Oldest mating insect fossils discovered

This image shows a holotype male, on the right, and allotype female, on the left. Credit: PLoS ONE 8(11): e78188. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078188

From today:

Earliest record of copulating insects discovered

1 hour ago

Scientists have found the oldest fossil depicting copulating insects in northeastern China, published November 6th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dong Ren and colleagues at the Capital Normal University in China.

Fossil records of mating insects are fairly sparse, and therefore our current knowledge of mating position and genitalia orientation in the early stages of evolution is rather limited.

In this study, the authors present a fossil of a pair of copulating froghoppers, a type of small insect that hops from plant to plant much like tiny frogs. The well-preserved fossil of these two froghoppers showed belly-to-belly mating position and depicts the male reproductive organ inserting into the female copulatory structure.

This is the earliest record of copulating insects to date, and suggests that froghoppers’ genital symmetry and mating position have remained static for over 165 million years. Ren adds, “We found these two very rare copulating froghoppers which provide a glimpse of interesting insect behavior and important data to understand their mating position and genitalia orientation during the Middle Jurassic.”

Dinosaur age mammal discovery in China

The newly discovered fossil is one of the best-preserved early mammal ancestors ever found, and provides some of the earliest evidence of pre-mammalian hair. Credit: April Isch, University of Chicago

From LiveScience:

Fossil of Ancient Hairy Creature Reveals Clues About Mammal Ancestors

By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer   |   August 07, 2013 01:58pm ET

An extremely well-preserved rodentlike fossil recently discovered in China provides some of the best evidence yet for how the earliest human ancestors lived.

Named Megaconus mammaliaformis, the animal closely resembled but predated true mammals, living about 165 million years ago in a humid world dominated by early dinosaurs. It is one of two recently described ancestral mammal fossils that provide a significant leap forward for research in early mammal evolution.

Until now, most knowledge of M. mammaliaformis has been based on isolated teeth remains that suggested that the animals were not highly evolved. But the newly discovered intact skeleton — complete with some of the earliest evidence of hair — shows that these animals were more complex than previously thought, the team reports in the Aug. 8 issue of the journal Nature.

“Research always assumed that these were primitive and not highly specialized, but this animal shows that they were already highly specialized and highly adapted to special feeding strategies,” said Thomas Martin, a paleontologist at the University of Bonn in Germany and one of the authors of the paper.

Hair impressions

By closely examining the orientation of the animal’s relatively flat teeth in relation to its jaw, the team determined that M. mammaliaformis evolved to grind plants, making it one of the earliest plant eaters in a world dominated by carnivores. [Image Gallery: Fantastic Fossils]

Hair impressions were also found on the fossil. The hair — which appears darker on the animal’s back and lighter on its belly — are among the only premammalian hair impressions ever discovered. The hair likely evolved to keep the animals warm, which could indicate that it would otherwise lose heat quickly through a fast metabolism typical of modern rodents, Martin said.

“This is very important because the presence of hair was always postulated, but the direct evidence was never well preserved in fossils,” Martin told LiveScience. “This is direct evidence, not just interpolated evidence.”

The team calculated the weight of the animal’s body based on the length of its limbs, estimating that it weighed roughly half a pound (250 grams) — about the size of a rat. The orientation of its legs in relation to the rest of its body suggests that the animal couldn’t hop or climb, but instead maintained a walking gait similar to that of a modern hedgehog or armadillo.

To escape predators, including early dinosaurs and other mammaliaforms (a group that closely resembles but predates true mammals), the animal evolved a spur on the back of its heel that the researchers believe contained poison, similar to modern platypus spurs.

The animal likely roamed humid, junglelike forests full of evergreens and void of colorful flowers that had not yet evolved, Martin said. Fossilized fish surrounding M. mammaliaformis suggest that it died in an ancient lake.

The fossil owes its exceptional preservation to the extremely fine-grained silt, which consists largely of volcanic ash, in which it was found. Surrounding regions in China have yielded a multitude of other important fossils in recent years, including fossils of a similar animal described in the same issue of Nature.

Mammal or not?

The second animal was able to climb trees and has been identified as a mammal, though the authors have classified it within the same broader group to which M. mammaliaformis belonged. This apparent contradiction — that a mammaliaform and a true mammal fall within the same group — has called into question when the first true mammals evolved, but both groups agree that they will only be able to settle this debate upon further analysis of the fossils.

“To me, the most important part is, we know more about the morphology, more about the structure of this extinct group,” said Jin Meng, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and an author of the second paper. “Our knowledge of this extinct group has increased drastically.”

Martin and his team also believe both discoveries offer an important step forward in understanding the complexity and diversity of the earliest human ancestors.

“It’s very exciting to see that these basic forms can be very highly specialized,” said Martin. “The ecomorphological diversity is much higher than anticipated before.”

Svalbard Jurassic giant reptiles, other fossils

This video about Svalbard says about itself:

National Geographic Live! – Jørn Hurum: Sea Monster Island

Jan 2, 2012

Far north of the Arctic Circle, emerging explorer Jørn Hurum coaxes the secrets of evolution from a rocky polar desert with a treasure trove of fossils, including sea monsters of the Jurassic era.

Don’t worry, the reports and photos about Svalbard birds and other wildlife in June 2013 will return.

Meanwhile, about other Svalbard wildlife, from much longer ago.

From the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway:

Jurassic Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs of Svalbard

Plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs are two groups of marine reptiles that inhabited the Earth’s oceans in the Mesozoic – the plesiosaurs being most diverse in the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, while the ichthyosaurs dominated the Triassic and diminished throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Like today’s whales and seals, plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs descended from land-living animals that adapted to a life in water. The evolutionary path to this life is reflected in the anatomy of the body. Both groups had four flippers of which, in plesiosaurs, all four were used for locomotion, whereas in the dolphin-like ichthyosaurs the hind flippers were reduced and a fish-like tail propelled the animal forward, while the fore flippers were used for steering.

On Svalbard the first remains of these animals are of Triassic ichthyosaurs found over a century ago. The first Jurassic fossil – a plesiosaur – was found in 1913 on Spitsbergen near the mountain Janusfjellet. In 1931 the postcranial remains of another plesiosaur was found by an American group of medical doctors studying the spread of the common cold in Longyearbyen. This material was later described and named Tricleidus svalbardensis.

With the exception of one isolated plesiosaur limb, no new material from Jurassic rocks were recorded until 2001 when an excursion of Norwegian scientists and students came across the remains of a marine reptile weathering out of the black shale in the Slottsmøya Member of the Agardhfjellet Formation (Tithonian, Upper Jurassic). The find was reported to Dr. Jørn Harald Hurum at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, who in 2004 led a team into the field to collect the specimen, which turned out to be a partial plesiosaur skeleton. While in the field, Dr. Hurum’s team found an astounding nine additional occurrences including a large complete ichthyosaur skull (which was also collected and is being prepared).

Based on the exceptional number and quality of specimens collected in 2004, Dr. Hurum and Dr. Hans Arne Nakrem, planned a larger expedition for the summer of 2006. The purpose of this return trip to Spitsbergen was to locate and map other marine vertebrate skeletons occurring in the Slottsmøya Member. During this 11-day expedition parts of additional 28 specimens were discovered, including six ichthyosaurs, 20 long-necked plesiosaurs, and two remarkable short-necked plesiosaurs (commonly known as pliosaurs). One of these pliosaurs along with one long-necked plesiosaur and one ichthyosaur were collected during a 3 week expedition led by Dr. Hurum the following year. Back in Oslo the material was prepared and is now part of the Ph.D. study of Espen M. Knutsen at the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo.

In the summer of 2008 the same team led by Dr. Hurum collected the last pliosaur and two more long-necked plesiosaurs.

According to a Spitsbergen Jurassic Research Group leaflet, six plesiosaur species and at least two ichthyosaur species, new to science, were discovered recently on Svalbard.

Also fossils of ammonites, belemnites, and other marine invertebrates from the age of dinosaurs, plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs have been found on Svalbard.

New Chinese flying dinosaur discovery

A new flying dinosaur that lived about 150 million years ago has been dug up in China, which scientists say throws new light on the evolution of birds. The Aurornis xui was about the same size as a chicken, had tiny triangular teeth and was covered almost head-to-toe in primitive feathers

From the Daily Mail in England:

Flying dinosaur which had triangular teeth and resembled a CHICKEN discovered in Chinese quarry

The chicken-sized Aurornis xui lived 150 million years ago, had tiny triangular teeth and was covered in primitive feathers
Belgian scientists claim the fossilised skeleton throws new light on how birds evolved from land dinosaurs

By Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 18:02 GMT, 29 May 2013 | UPDATED: 21:18 GMT, 29 May 2013

A flying dinosaur that lived about 150 million years ago has been dug up in China.

The Aurornis xui was roughly the same size as a chicken, was 20 inches in length and had tiny, triangular teeth. It was also covered almost head-to-toe in primitive feathers.

Scientists from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels say the complete fossilised skeleton throws new light on the evolution of birds.

Unearthed in at a quarry in Liaoning Province, near the North Korean border, it was closely related to the earliest known flying bird Archaeopteryx.

Both were avialans – dinosaur-birds that diverged millions of years ago from the theropods that included Tyrannosaurus rex and the velicoraptor of Jurassic Park fame.

Discoveries of feathered theropods over the past 20 years have questioned whether Archaeopteryx was the archetypical bird-like dinosaur.

Now the analysis into Aurornis, carried out by Dr Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels and his colleagues, puts Archaeopteryx back at the head of the tree of when dinosaurs turned into birds.

Dr Godefroit said the results support a ‘single origin of powered flight’.

This means that all the dinosaurs which eventually became birds decided at a very similar time to take to the sky, while keeping some of their defensive and hunting features such as tiny teeth.

These features were later lost as the birds developed further and no longer needed them while in the air.

He added traces of soft feathers comprising a bundle of filaments joined together are preserved along a third of the tail, above the neck and around the chest.

The chicken-sized bird would also have had longer feathers designed for flight rather than show – and help it catch prey or escape predators – but these have not been preserved.

Liaoning has proven a rich source of ‘dino-birds’ over the years with the discovery and naming of dozens of types of species.

As with many important fossil sites around the world, this region of northeastern China is believed to have been covered by a lake at the time and supported a complex ecosystem of dinosaurs, birds, fish and mammals.

When some of these creatures died they floated to the lake’s bottom where they were preserved by the silt or buried by sudden, deadly rains of volcanic ash.


Dr Goedfroit continued: ‘This new comprehensive phylogeny, or evolutionary development, shows that point of origin avialans were already diversified in northern China during the Middle-Late Jurassic.’

The study, published in the journal Nature, also places another family of small, upright, bi-pedal theropods called Troodontidae as a sister group to the avialans.

Magpie-sized Archaeopteryx developed flying abilities that may have evolved from gliding out of trees or simply running along the ground.

The first complete skeleton was discovered in Jurassic limestone in Germany in 1861 and is a very important fossil, almost certainly representing the transition between reptiles and birds.

This ‘missing link’ shared sharp teeth and a long bony tail with small theropod dinosaurs and a wishbone and feathers with birds – making them the living descendants of Tyrannosaurus rex.


Archaeopteryx are the earliest known flying birds, thought to have been about the size of a modern-day magpie.

They lived around 150 million years ago and developed flying abilities that are believed to have evolved from gliding out of trees.

The first complete skeleton of an Archaeopteryx was discovered in Jurassic limestone in Germany in 1861.

Scientists said the fossils represented the transition between reptiles and birds.

The Archaeopteryx forms the missing link, sharing sharp teeth and a long bony tail with small theropod dinosaurs, and a wishbone and feathers with the birds.