Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A genus of fossil reptilian Mesozoic birds discovered by Andreas Wagner, in 1861, in the lithographic slates of Solenhofen in Bavaria. It is of Jurassic age, and is notable as the oldest known avian type, and as combining some characters of a lizard with those of a bird. The original fossil consisted only of the impression of a single feather, upon which the name Archæopteryx lithographica was imposed by Von Meyer. A second specimen from the same formation and locality was named A. macrura by Owen. The specific identity of the two can be neither affirmed nor denied, and their generic identity is only presumptive. A third and still more characteristic specimen is identical with the second, and has furnished many additional characters. Members of this genus had teeth, a long, lizard-like tail formed of many vertebræ, and separate metacarpal bones, in combination with a carinate sternum and other features of modern birds. It is thus a unique type of ornithic structure, and represents a distinct subclass of Aves. See
- n. Rare spelling of archeopteryx.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Paleon.) A fossil bird, of the Jurassic period, remarkable for having a long tapering tail of many vertebræ with feathers along each side, and jaws armed with teeth, with other reptilian characteristics.
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