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NEW BOOK: Archaeopteryx ? Der Urvogel von Solnhofen,



Dear ALL,

Peter Wellnhofer?s "Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs" is well known probably to many 
list-members as combining popular attractiveness as well as profound scientific 
content in a coherent way easy to read and lavishly illustrated. Now he is out 
with a companion book devoted solely to Archaeopteryx, the famous urvogel from 
Solnhofen and certainly the most outstanding fossil ever.

Archaeopteryx ? Der Urvogel von Solnhofen by Peter Wellnhofer 
256 pp., 453 colored and 57 black-and-white figures, 24 tables. 32.5 x 24.3 cm. 
Hard cover.
Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil (www.pfeil-verlag.de)

So far, I have had just a few glimpses into ?Archaeopteryx? but already I like 
to say this: 

The book is stuffed with unique illustrations; well, a few are copied from old 
historical and dispersed sources, but most figures were never seen before or 
printed at that resolution, including full page photographs of all specimens, 
photos of earlier preparation stages or interesting details or those amazing 
UV-photos by Helmut Tischlinger. Also, there are plenty of all-new line 
drawings and superb artwork by the author himself, all extensively labeled. 
Though possibly some of the list-members will fear that German as the language 
of the book would be an obstacle for them, I dare say that the book is worth 
every Cent already for those illustrations alone and the German of Peter 
Wellnhofer is easy to comprehend.

Just an overview of contents: After a short introduction, ?Archaeopteryx? 
starts in chapters 2-4 with a discourse on the Solnhofen locality, its renowned 
limestones and fossils, and the palecological, environmental and taphonomic 
aspects of the fossillagerstätte. Then, in separate sub-chapters and in more 
than 100 pages, the single feather and each of the ten skeletal finds are 
described in all their paleontological and historical details. For three of 
these precious fossils, Peter Wellnhofer once had done the original 
descriptions himself, and so we can take profit from his first-hand-knowledge 
and much of his life-time experience as well. There is no other source, where 
all these details of the morphology and the discovery and fate of the specimens 
can be found summarized or singularly to such extent. The next part deals with 
the paleobiology of Archaeopteryx and the several attempts to reconstruct the 
animal. The final chapters take up the outstanding importance of Archaeopteryx
 as a ?missing link?, a scientific document of evolution, and the early 
evolution of birds in general. All the text is augmented by worthwhile 
footnotes with further details on people and specimens and quotes from 
additional references. The final section of the book encompasses 12pp of 
references and 4pp index.

This book will certainly attract not only the enthusiastic ?dinosaurologists? 
but probably a wide audience: evolutionary biologists, paleontologists, natural 
history historians, as well as students and laymen. No other ?missing link? has 
been studied in such detail, no other fossil has had and still has such an 
impact on our thinking and the development of science, and for those, who have 
to teach or simply are interested into evolution, this book is a benchmark and 
treasure chest full of facts.


And now, happy me goes on reading ?

Markus Moser


Dr. Markus Moser
c/o Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie
Richard-Wagner-Str. 10
80333 München
Germany