The Archaeopteryx was a dinosaur that contains characteristics close to that of a modern-day bird and lived during the Late Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago. This genus belonged to a family called the Archaeopterygidae, along with other dinosaurs like the Wellnhoferia

Key facts

Archaeopteryx pronunciationThe Archaeopteryx can be pronounced as “ark-ee-OPT-er-ix” and was derived from two Greek words.
What does Archaeopteryx mean?The Greek words that Archaeopteryx was derived from are archaīos, which means “ancient,” and ptéryx, which means “feather” or “wing.” The name was given as the first found evidence of an Archaeopteryx was a fossilized feather.
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivore
Length0.5m (1.6 foot)
HeightAccording to studies of the Archaeopteryx fossil, the length of this animal could be around 20 in (50 cm) long, from head to tail.
Weight0.3 meters (1 foot)
Life expectancyNot much is known about how long can the Archaeopteryx be expected to have lived.
Legs used to get aroundBeing considered the first transition from non-avian dinosaurs to birds, the Archaeopteryx
Estimated top speedThe estimated top speed of an Archaeopteryx is 4.4 mp/h or 7.2 km/h.
When they livedThis genus lived during the early Tithonian stage in the Late Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago.
Where they have been found?The remains of the Archaeopteryx were found in Southern Germany.

When & Where

The fossils of the Archaeopteryx were found in 1861 at the Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone Formation in Bavaria, Germany. The discovered fossils only consisted of a feather, with its head and neck mostly missing. 

Size & Weight

Not much has been known of the size and weight of the Archaeopteryx and scientists believed that the dinosaur was the same size as the common raven. The dinosaur only weighed 0.3 meters (1 foot) and was 0.5 meters long. It was also concluded that this dinosaur had broad wings and tails that are longer than its body length, which can reach up to 20 inches.

Mobility & Diet

The Archaeopteryx was believed to have been a carnivore and may have eaten smaller reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and insects during the Cretaceous Period. With its claws, it helped them catch larger prey and eat small prey with their jaws.

Interesting Points

  • Archaeopteryx was found between 1860 and 1861 by Hermann von Meyer in Solnhofen, Germany, and Meyer gave the name Archaeopteryx litographica as well.
  • The first discovery of the Archaeopteryx was just a fossilized feather.
  • The name Archaeopteryx means: “Ancient Feather or Wing”.
  • Paleontologists have only discovered 12 other fossil specimens of Archaeopteryx.
  • As a form of payment, the fossils that were discovered were then gifted to a doctor, who sold them to the London Natural History Museum. When the specimen was given, it coincided with Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, and helped confirm the theory.