Prehistoric bird wings in to Senckenberg
Some 150 million years ago, the prevailing climate in central Europe was warm and moist. What is now Altmühltal in Bavaria was dotted with extensive lagoons ringed by coral reefs and islands.
Some 150 million years ago, the prevailing climate in central Europe was warm and moist. What is now Altmühltal in Bavaria was dotted with extensive lagoons ringed by coral reefs and islands. Finely grained lime sludge collected in the trough-like cavities between the reef structures to form deposits which, over a period of millions of years, solidified to create today’s Solnhofen limestones in which remarkably well-preserved fossils are now to be found – chief among them the “ancient bird” known as Archaeopteryx. In all, 13 specimens of the avian have thus far been discovered. Specimen #11, notable on account of its uniquely preserved plumage, is currently on display in the “Schatzkammer” (“Hidden Treasures”) section of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt.
As backdrop to this prized original exhibit, space has been constructed to show the Archaeopteryx in its natural habitat on the fringes of the limestone lagoons in Bavaria’s Altmühltal region. This newly developed thematic area in the museum incorporates the very latest findings of paleontological research, on which the exhibition designers drew extensively when creating the models of this “prehistoric bird” and developing a computer animation illustrating how the avian moved. Accompanying explanations trace the individual steps in the transformation of a predatory land-dwelling dinosaur to a bird as we know it today: from bone structure to the evolution of the flight feathers, and on to the oldest genuine fossilized birds from China.
The newly designed “Feathered Dinosaurs” area, located between the “Dino-Saal” and the whales and elephants section, offers a sneak preview of the new museum, into which – once the museum refit and extension has been completed – it is to be integrated.
Specimen #11 of the prehistoric bird Archaeopteryx has been made available to Senckenberg by Interprospekt AG. It forms part of a private collection curated by Interprospekt AG.
The fossil of flight-enabled dinosaur Rhamphorhynchus was a gift to Senckenberg donated by Horst Weiser.