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Re: questions about Laopteryx and Archaeopterygidae

At 4:26 PM 8/23/95, FUCCI@CERNVM.CERN.CH wrote:
>Laopteryx has been discribed in 1981 by Othniel Charles Marsh as
>an Archaeopterygidae.
>Could it possibly be a pterosaur?
>What parts of the skeletton have been found?

        The braincase that made up most of this animal has been redescribed
as pterosaurian:

Ostrom, John H. (1986).  "The Jurassic "bird" _Laopteryx priscus_
Re-examined."  _Contributions
        to Geology of the University of Wyoming_ Special Paper #3, 11-19.

>How many different species belonging to Archaeopterygidae have been discovered
>up to now? What are there names?

        Depending on who you ask, there are 1, 2, or 3 species.  Most
people right now seem to be in the "2" camp.  Historically, the
classifications hinged mostly around the Berlin and London specimens; in
the past, people have placed them into two genera (_Archaeopteryx_ for the
London one and _Archaeornis_ for the Berlin -- one person even went so far
as to make the London specimen ancestral to ratites and _Archaeornis_
ancestral to the rest of the birds!).  Also historically, some have only
made the differentiation in species, thus you will see _Archaeopteryx
lithographica_, _A. macrura_, and _A. siemensi_.  Most people currently
view them all except the newest specimen as _A. lithographica_.  About 10
years ago, there was a brief flurry about the Eichstatt specimen being a
separate species, and then even a separate genus (_Jurapteryx_), mostly
because it lacked a furcula, but also due to reported differences in the
pelvis.  Most people now just view it as a juvenile of _A. lithographica_.
The newest specimen has been described by Wellnhofer as a new species, _A.
bavarica_ in part because it possesses a sternum, albeit a small one. de
Beer (back in '54?) thought he saw a sternum on the London specimen as

        Anyway, so there could be just one species (_A. lithographica_), 2
(the former + _A. bavarica_), or 3 (if you like the idea of the Eichstatt
specimen as a separate species, if not genus).  Again, most people right
now seem to opt for "2" as the number of choice!  8-)

Jerry D. Harris
Shuler Museum of Paleontology
Southern Methodist University
Box 750395
Dallas  TX  75275-0395
(214) 768-2750
FAX:  (214) 768-2701
        (Compuserve:  73132,3372)

---------/O\------*     --->|:|:|>     w___/^^^\--o

"If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and
quacks like a duck, then it is the sister taxon to,
but cannot parsimoniously be, the direct ancestor
to all other ducks."

                                --  W. Hennig

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