The Urvogel’s Old, New Clothes

On May 5th, 1877, the German paleontologist Karl Zittel first laid eyes on one of the most stunning fossils ever discovered.

The 150 million year old specimen belonged to Ernst Häberlein, which he showed off at a meeting of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and only little of the animal could yet been seen. "Mr. Häberlein was able to expose an area of a hand's breadth with the posterior portion of the tail," Zittel wrote, "And there one can see the feathers at both sides of the elongated tail vertebrae in faultless beauty." There was no question to what this animal was - an Archaeopteryx, an animal that combined ...

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