One of the most famous of all fossil organisms, and a classic example of a transitional form, Archaeopteryx is currently known from 12 body fossil specimens.
Except one of them is missing.
The Maxberg specimen was part of the private collection of Eduard Opitsch, the owner of the Bavarian quarry where it was originally discovered in 1956. Despite being partially disintegrated, and missing its head and tail, it was still an immensely important discovery – at the time, it was only the third recognized Archaeopteryx ever found.
After briefly attempting to sell the new Archeopteryx, Opitsch eventually allowed it to be held at the local Maxberg Museum. In 1974 he permitted casts to be made from it – but then suddenly removed it from public display and refused all further requests to access or study it.
(This may have been a reaction to the 1973 announcement of the more complete Eichstätt specimen. Opitsch, who was described as having “a difficult personality”, became increasingly defensive about the fossil, seeming to feel this new discovery was getting more attention and was deliberately devaluing his own.)
From then on the Maxberg specimen was lost to science.
When Opitsch died in 1991 his heir attempted to locate the fossil – he was rumored to keep it under his bed – but it was nowhere to be found. There’s some speculation that he was buried with it, literally taking his prized Archaeopteryx to the grave as a final act of spite. Another possibility is that it was stolen and sold in secret, perhaps to this day hidden away in a wealthy owner’s private collection.
It’s been missing for over 25 years, but there’s still lingering hope that the missing Maxberg specimen will one day resurface.
For now, though, all we have left are a few casts, photographs, and x-rays.
My good friend @palaeoplushies is doing another kickstarter, and it’s for a life sized Archaeopteryx plush!!!!! It has 23 days to go and still needs around $2000 to be funded. I totally believe in this project and I think it’s going to be a really great plush (I myself am getting one)! Pixel worked really hard on this design (I saw the process, trust me) and it’s really worth supporting! So please, help fund this kickstarter, and be sure to spread it around!
so this semester I’m doing pre-production for my short film and I’m having TROUBLE deciding between three different ideas. Help me choose?? The short will have to be 60-90 sec and I’m probably not going to do dialogue
Idea 1: Underestimated intern at a paleontological dig is cataloguing a nest of fossilized eggs when one unexpectedly hatches. She has to get her oblivious supervisor’s attention while trying to keep the little gremlin baby dinosaur from running off and wreaking havoc.
Idea 2: Bigfoot is a severe agoraphobe and hates having her picture taken, but secretly dreams of being a famous model. A crafty cryptozoologist figures this out and schemes to lure her to a fake “photoshoot” so he can finally get quality proof of Bigfoot. She shows up, but in heavy disguise…
Idea 3: Tiny alien accidentally crashes in the New Mexico desert next to the highway, miles away from the nearest town. To get his ship up and running, he has to get a ride to town. When he fails at hitchhiking, he approaches the rough, seedy biker bar across the street and gets more than he bargained for. One of the bikers is an alien conspiracy theorist who tricks the alien into taking him back to his ship.
These are rough concept sketches - whichever one I choose will be developed over the course of this semester
… Slowly getting there! You might remember me mentioning it a while ago, but I’ve been working on setting up another Kickstarter to get some lifesize Archaeopteryx soft toys produced.
The kickstarter isn’t live yet, but the plush prototype is coming along splendidly! Here’s a few iterations from the factory, changes between each, and the last one is looking rather nice! I’m super pleased!
I’ll keep everyone posted when this thing goes live, maybe in a month or so?
@thanatoast250 apparently that’s outdated information! I thought so too, but when I was looking things up, it turns out in 2013 they realized that only some parts of it were black. The confirmed black parts of it are the covert feathers, and probably the tips of the flight feathers, the rest is unclear, so I based it vaguely on sparrows because they are very cute!
Here’s a silly graphic I made for my Archaeopteryx Plush Kickstarter showing the different iterations of plush samples in a faux phylogenetic tree. We start at the bottom with the prototype I produced (”Originalopteryx”), and then successive factory samples until we got to something I was happy with (”Finalopteryx”)!
I like this diagram, it both fits with the theme and illustrates the plushie’s “evolution” nicely!
It was really exciting seeing how other people interpreted the pattern I produced, and it was good that it was actually understandable to anyone but me. It meant I could get the plush sized exactly as I wanted!
The first Archaeopteryx fossils ever found included exquisitely preserved skeletons with clear imprints of wings and feathers, but also teeth and a bony tail. Discovered not long after Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, Archaeopteryx provided an example of evolution in action—a fossil that showed the transition between non-avian dinosaurs and birds.
Fossils of Archaeopteryx show clear imprints of bird-like feathers—but could it fly? Some scientists think its flying ability may have been limited to flapping its wings to help it run up tree trunks from which it could then glide or flap back down to the ground.
Feathers are light and airy, but that doesn’t mean they’re delicate. These structures are extremely sturdy and can fossilize well under the right conditions, so feather fossils are not uncommon.