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Help with meaning "Urschwinge" for name Archaeopteryx
From: Ben Creisler
I've been researching the early history of the name Archaeopteryx and
am trying to find the source for the following passage in the
Wikipedia article about Archaeopteryx. In the discussion of the
original fossil feather under "History of discovery," the following
statements are made without providing a source:
"In German, this ambiguity is resolved by the term Schwinge which does
not necessarily mean a wing used for flying. Urschwinge was the
favored translation of Archaeopteryx among German scholars in the late
19th century. In English, "ancient pinion" offers a rough
There is nothing equivalent in the German or Dutch Wikipedia version
of the article. This paragraph is also rather confusing. The German
noun Schwingfeder means a flag-feather, quill, pinion, primary
feather, while Schwinge means a wing. "Urschwinge" would mean
something like "primitive wing" rather than "ancient pinion"--which
might be something more like Urschwingfeder.
Peter Wellnhofer's 2009 book Archaeopteryx: Icon of Evolution shows up
on Google when I query "Urschwinge" but there is no preview or
snippet view of the text. Unfortunately, I do not have this book and
none of the local libraries have a copy. Does Wellnhofer cite the term
"Urschwinge" as a German meaning of Archaeopteryx?
I have been searching 19th century German sources for discussions of
Archaeopteryx, but so far have not found a single instance of the term
"Urschwinge" being offered as the preferred meaning of name
Archaeopteryx. The German meanings "Urflügel" or "alte Flügel"
"ancient wing" show up often. However, many older German sources give
"Urvogel" as the supposed intended meaning of the name Archaeopteryx
itself, which is emphatically NOT what von Meyer had in mind. Note
that Feduccia gives "Urvogel" as the supposed meaning of the name
Archaeopteryx in his 2012 book "Riddle of the Feathered Dragons" on
Urvogel ["original bird, first bird"] was commonly used an epithet for
Archaeopteryx by many German authors, but von Meyer apparently did NOT
think that Archaeopteryx was a bird when he named it in 1861 (a view
that he later stated in unambiguous terms). He most likely chose the
name Archaeopteryx "ancient feather" (rather than "Archaeornis"
"ancient bird," for example (a name later used by Petronievics in
1917)) to avoid stating or even implying that the creature with
feathers was a bird.
Any information about the Urschwinge issue would appreciated, online or offline.