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Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx in flight Archaeopteryx is the earliest and most primitive bird known. It has features that resemble both birds and dinosaurs, leading many palaeontologists to believe that birds were directly descended from small theropod dinosaurs. Archaeopteryx's bird-like features include: flight feathers; broad wings; very small and light body. Its dinosaur-like features are: jaws with sharp teeth; three-clawed fingers; long, bony tail.


Skeleton of Archaeopteryx

Ability to fly

Although Archaeopteryx closely resembled the small dinosaur it shared its habitat with, Compsognathus, it is thought to be more closely related to other small, feathered theropods from the family called the dromaeosaurids, such as Deinonychus and Microraptor. Being able to fly would allow it both to pounce on its prey more easily and escape attack from predators—such as Compsognathus itself. 
Archaeopteryx gliding, running and climbingArchaeopteryx lacked the well-developed breast bone of modern birds so it may have taken to the air in short “hops”, or by gliding down from a perch. The arid habitat where Archaeopteryx lived would have had low shrubs instead of trees, suggesting it may have been primarily a ground-dweller. It probably spent its life preying on any small lizards and insects it could find near the shores of the tropical islands where it lived.

The name Archaeopteryx means “ancient wing”.

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