Priceless ‘Rock Star’ Fossils

Priceless ‘Rock Star’ Fossils That Links Dinosaurs To Birds Leaves The UK To Go On Show In Japan

  • Archaeopteryx is the missing link between birds and dinosaurs
  • The Late Jurassic Era fossil will be the centrepiece of a global exhibition in Japan
  • The fossil is one of a kind and marked a huge turning point in life on Earth

 

By Colin Fernandez Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail, 8th March 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4294226/The-winged-rock-star-fossil-world-fly-Japan.html

It has been 147 million years since it last took to the skies.

But now, Archaeopteryx, the missing link between birds and dinosaurs, is set to fly to Japan, leaving its home in the Natural History Museum in London

Considered ‘the rock star’ of the fossil world it last flapped and squawked in the Late Jurassic Era.

Professor Paul Barrett at the Natural History Museum told the BBC the legacy of the archaeopteryx goes beyond merely looking impressive. It is one of only 11 full-body examples to have been formally identified, and is the version against which others are compared

FOSSIL ‘ROCK STAR’

Archaeopteryx is the missing link between birds and dinosaurs.

It last took to the skies 147 million years ago.

It has wings and feathers like a bird but teeth and claws like a dinosaur.

It was undisturbed for aeons until it was dug up in Germany in 1861.

Scientists had been unaware of any bird specimens of a similar age.

But now it will be the centrepiece of an exhibition in Japan.

Encased in limestone, it marks a pivotal point in evolution as it has wings and feathers like a bird, but teeth and claws like a dinosaur.

It was undisturbed for aeons until it was dug up in Germany in 1861.

Since then it was transported to the Natural History Museum in Kensington, where it caused a sensation.

Scientists had been unaware of any bird specimens of a similar age.

Luckily, two years earlier, Charles Darwin and others outlined evolution – and it became clear that the fossil marked a huge turning point in life on earth.

And ever since, Archaeopteryx has had an exalted status in the fossil world.

Professor Paul Barrett at the Natural History Museum told the BBC the legacy of the archaeopteryx goes beyond merely looking impressive.

He said: ‘Archaeopteryx is important because it’s a nice fossil with lots of information and it was the first one recognised as an early bird, but in terms of being earth-shattering, that job is done.’

Artist impression of Archaeopteryx, the world’s ‘earliest know bird’. The 147-million-year-old skeleton, encased in limestone, has left its London home for Japan, where it will go on display alongside 300 other treasures in the museum’s biggest-ever global exhibition

‘Its central role has been in establishing birds as dinosaurs. That is its lasting historical legacy.

‘Anything that gets published on it now is more or less a tweak to that story.’

Known as the London Specimen, the museum’s archaeopteryx – which means ‘ancient wing’ – is one of only 11 full-body examples to have been formally identified, and is the version against which others are compared.

The Natural History Museum tour, Treasures Of The Natural World, premieres at the National Museum Of Nature And Science in Tokyo on March 18.

Natural History Museum of conservator Lorraine Cornish with their ground-breaking fossil Archaeopteryx, the world’s ‘earliest know bird’ 

It will remain on display in Japan for three months, alongside hundreds of other items which, the museum says, ‘changed how we see the world’.

Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, said: ‘It is a pleasure to be working with our Japanese partners to launch this international tour.

‘Science is a global endeavour fuelled by wonder and curiosity so it has been an ambition for us to share these extraordinary treasures with a wider audience.

‘They are the essence of the scientific exploration that inspired pioneers and continues today at the Natural History Museum.’

Artist impression of Archaeopteryx. Encased in limestone, the fossil marks a pivotal point in evolution as it has wings and feathers like a bird, but teeth and claws like a dinosaur.

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