Archaeopteryx is a fossil animal that became famous because it had a combination of reptilian and distinctly bird-like characteristics, which implied support for Darwin's theory of natural selection. Scientists initially hailed it as the first bird. Today, scientists classify all dinosaurs as birds, and some of Archaeopteryx's bird-like traits have been discovered in subsequent fossils of animals once considered entirely reptilian in appearance.
Hermann von Meyer, a German palaeontologist, studied the first Archaeopteryx fossil ever discovered in 1861. The fossil was remarkable because it clearly preserved the impression of delicate feathers within the stone. Darwin's "The Origin of Species" had been published in 1859, generating great debate and controversy. The fossil animal examined by von Meyer, with its mouth full of teeth, long tail and feathery, clawed arms, appeared to be a true missing link between reptiles and birds. Scientists today recognize that there are too many bird-like traits found amongst the clade Dinosauria to classify them as anything other than birds. Many dinosaurs, especially those in the maniraptor group, such as Velociraptor, had feathers and even wings. In fact, maniraptors are actually considered the direct ancestors of birds instead of Archaeopteryx, which is now considered an offshoot. The birds we see today are considered to be avian dinosaurs, whereas animals such as Stegosaurus, which had fewer modern bird traits, are called non-avian dinosaurs.Learn More
The theory of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin entails the evolution by natural selection of all life on earth. It states that new generations are born with different inheritable traits, and that the traits that are superior for survival will be passed on to new generations. This means that given enough time, an organism can change and evolve to create a new species.Full Answer >
The Brachiosaurus is estimated to have had a life span of about 100 years. This estimate is based on body size, following the general rule that large animals live longer than smaller ones do.Full Answer >
According to LiveScience, which features the latest headlines on science news, the velociraptor was a carnivore that survived mainly on small animals, reptiles, amphibians and small dinosaurs. The protoceratops was also a favorite meal of the velociraptor.Full Answer >
The number of chambers in a Tyrannosaurus rex heart cannot be determined because no fossilised heart has been discovered. Conclusions are only guesswork in the absence of any conclusive facts to support a specific amount of chambers in the heart of a T-rex.Full Answer >