Archaeoptery1 - Archaeopteryx: Answering the Challenge of...

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Archaeopteryx : Answering the Challenge of the Fossil Record "From the reconstruction shown in Figure 11, it is obvious that Archaeopteryx was very much a bird, equipped with a bird-like skull, perching feet, wings, feathers and a furcula, or wish-bone." (p 112). Figure 1 The figure (reprinted here as Fig. 1) is taken from Lull ( 1940 , pl. XIV). However, the caption to plate XIV cites Heilmann as the source. Dr. Gish's Figure 11 is in fact, a painting, by Heilmann, from the frontispiece of his 1926 book, The Origin of Birds . Lull ( 1940 , p. 328) describes the figure, "[t]hese first birds, of which but two or three specimens have been recovered, are known as Archaeopteryx and Archaeornis (see Fig. 80 and Pl. XIV) are so reptile-like that were it not for the preserved feathers it is doubtful whether they could be surely proved to be birds." Prophetic words, since in 1940 a specimen of Archaeopteryx lay in the Haarlem Museum, misidentified as a pterosaur, and more recently, the Solnhofen specimen was recognised as being an Archaeopteryx after being originally identified as the small dinosaur Compsognathus . Dr. Gish not only ignores Lull's clear proclamation concerning the reptilian nature of Archaeopteryx , but uses a 70 year old painting of Archaeopteryx , drawn as a bird , to show that Archaeopteryx was "very much a bird". Presumably, by the same logic, "Barney" proves that dinosaurs were purple! The painting does not show a "bird-like skull"; the feet are obscured by the foliage; and the furcula is an internal skeletal structure, thus making its exhibition in the painting impossible. Besides, in Heilmann's ( 1926 ) detailed analysis, Archaeopteryx was compared with maniraptoral dinosaurs only for the link to be rejected because it was thought that maniraptoral dinosaurs lacked clavicles (these are thought to be the precursor to the avian furcula or wishbone) ( Ostrom 1976 ). More recently, not only have clavicles been found in dinosaurs such as Velociraptor , Euparkeria and Ornithosuchus ( ), but indeed furculas have also been
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found in dinosaurs such as Oviraptor and Ingenia ( Barsbold 1983 , Barsbold et al. 1990 , Bryant ). Therefore, possession of a furcula is no longer a character unique to birds. The wings of Archaeopteryx are structurally dissimilar to those of modern birds; the wrist and finger bones are unfused (as in most theropod dinosaurs, but unlike birds and some cretaceous dinosaurs, in which the bones are fused); the wrist articulation is also much less than that in modern birds; the fingers retain claws in the adult stage (as in other theropod dinosaurs but unlike birds) and the shoulder joint is most similar to that of the theropod dinosaur Deinonychus and appears intermediate between theropod dinosaurs and birds ( Jenkins 1993 ). Not only does the painting fail to document some of the characters claimed by Dr. Gish, but the painting is patently inadequate as a scientific illustration - since it was never meant to be one. A far more
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course GLY GLY1100 taught by Professor Jaymuza during the Spring '10 term at Broward College.

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Archaeoptery1 - Archaeopteryx: Answering the Challenge of...

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