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ARCHAEOPTERYX



<<I haven't been able to find many references (outside of Wellenhofer's  
original 1993 description) to the taxanomic validity of the most recent 
"second" Archaeopteryx species.  Anyone else have their thumb on the 
pulse of this issue?>>

There haven't really been many.  

<<I'm finishing up a preliminary Archaeopteryx skeletal reconstruction, 
(I like "non-controversial" animals), and I wanted to check on the 
validity of using some of the data from the Bavarian specimen to fill 
the blanks left by other specimens.  Thanks in advance.>>

According to Elzanowski and Wellnhofer (1996; JVP 16) in their 
discussion of the cranial anatomy of _Archaeopteryx_ spp., there 
probably wouldn't been that many differences between the two species in 
braincase structure.  The rest of the body of _A. bavarica_ is smaller 
than _A. lithographcia_, has interdental plates, has a longer pelvic 
limb, and has a bony, ossified single sternum.  I can buy the small 
size, interdental plates and pelvic limb characters, but not the 
presense of a sternum.  As Larry Martin points out many, many, many 
times, the sternum was probably cartilageous in _A. lithographica_, 
which is something that Ostrom suggested many times also.  The lack of 
an ossified sternum in _A. lithographica_ can be due to the possibility 
that all of the _A. lithographica_ specimens were juveniles (discussed 
in Walker, 1985; Archaeopteryx Conference book).  I haven't really 
looked into the possibility that much, but I think that it may be sound.  
As for _A. bavarica_, I'll have to dig out Elzanowski and Wellnhofer and 
see if Walker's juvenile characters hold up.  

Anyway, regarding your statement that the anatomy of _Archaeopteryx_ was 
"un-controversial"; whoa!  That is a BIG understatement.  Contrast any 
Ostrom and Martin paper and you'll see the differences between opinions.  
Personally, I lean more towards aspects of Martin's restoration (or is 
it Martin AND Whetstone's?  Whetstone and Whybrow say that Whetstone had 
a paper that dealt with the anatomy of _Archaeopteryx_ in the works.  
Regardless that it was not published, anybody hear anything about this?) 
than Ostrom's. 
I used to buy Whetstone's interpretation of the otic region of the 
London specimen, but recent findings suggest otherwise to me.  However, 
one thing that should be noted is that _Archaeopteryx_ may have had an 
incipently double-headed quadrate or at least a partial bipartite 
quadrate articulation as suggested by Walker and if I remember 
correctly, Elzanowski and Wellnhofer.  

Matt Troutman

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