Arctic Life/Arctic Animals/Birds/Fossils
The first specimen of Archaeopteryx lithographica was discovered in a limestone quarry in Bavaria in 1861. It was the first fossil that clearly showed the reptilian ancestry of birds. Although Archaeopteryx clearly had well-developed feathers, most ornithologists doubt that it could fly, but agree that it may have been able to glide. The name Archaeopteryx means "ancient wing". Archaeopteryx gained its species name, lithographica, from its discovery in fine limestone that was used to produce the printed illustrations in books; this type of printing is called lithography.
Hesperornis was a large, flightless, diving bird from the Cretaceous Period. It had vestigial wings, a stubby tail, and legs placed far back on the body. Superficially, Hesperornis resembled modern loons.
Confuciusornis sanctus is a recently discovered Jurassic species from China. It is the earliest known fossil of a toothless, beaked bird. Several partial fossils of this species also provided the first indisputable evidence for a body covered with contour feathers. It appears that Confuciusornis was adapted for climbing tree trunks.