The Archaeopteryx was a dinosaur that contains characteristics close to that of a modern-day bird and lived during the Upper 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 pronunciationArk-ee-OPT-er-ix
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 remains found was a fossilized feather.
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivore
Length0.5m (1′ 8″)
Height0.5m (1′ 8″) from head to tail.
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 was bipedal
Estimated top speedThe estimated top speed was 4.4 mp/h or 7.2 km/h.
When they livedThis genus lived during the early Tithonian stage in the Upper Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago.
Where they have been found?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 is known of the size and weight of the Archaeopteryx and scientists believed that the dinosaur was the same size as the common raven.

Mobility & Diet

They are believed to have been carnivorous and may have eaten smaller reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and insects during the Upper Jurassic Period. Its claws helped them catch larger prey.

Interesting Points

  • First found between 1860 and 1861 by Hermann von Meyer in Solnhofen, Germany, and Meyer gave the name Archaeopteryx litographica as well.
  • The first discovery was just a fossilized feather.
  • The name 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.