Illustration of Archaeopteryx preying on a dragonfly | De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images

The Feathered Dinosaur Archaeopteryx Could Fly — Just Not Like Today’s Birds

The Late Jurassic dino-bird could fly short distances and in bursts, similar to modern pheasants.

Dennis Voeten indicates the bone wall thickness of the “Chicken Wing” specimen of Archaeopteryx on the top computer screen for comparison against the bone walls of a primitive pterosaur on the bottom screen. A three-dimensional model of the “Chicken Wing” is held up, the referred bone cross section is that of the humerus, the uppermost arm bone visible most right on the 3D-printed model. | ESRF
The Munich specimen of the transitional bird Archaeopteryx. It preserves a partial skull (top left), shoulder girdle and both wings slightly raised (most left to center left), the ribcage (center), and the pelvic girdle, and both legs in a “cycling” posture (right); all connected by the vertebral column from the neck (top left, under the skull) to the tip of the tail (most right). Imprints of its wing feathers are visible radiating from below the shoulder and vague imprints of the tail plumage can be recognized extending from the tip of the tail. | ESRF/Pascal Goetgheluck
The Munich specimen of Archaeopteryx at beamline ID19 at the ESRF. The limestone plate was mounted on a rotating sample stage and the beam is centered on the skull using lasers. The X-ray beam, coming from the right of the picture, travels through the sample and arrives at the detector (visible left) where a camera records the signal. | ESRF/Pascal Goetgheluck