Tuesday, 16 August 2022


An archaeopteryx, a Jurassic aged theropod dinosaur that looked like a skinny chicken, lunges at a dragonfly at the end of a smooth river stone.

Archaeopteryx were feathered dinosaurs and were once thought to be the oldest known fossil bird. 

We find their fossil remains in the Solnhofen Limestone outcrops that are more than 150 million years old.

The Solnhofen Plattenkalk, or Solnhofen Limestone, geologically known as the Altmühltal Formation, is a Jurassic Konservat-Lagerstätte that preserves a rare assemblage of fossilized organisms, including highly detailed imprints of soft bodied organisms such as sea jellies. 

The most familiar fossils of the Solnhofen Plattenkalk include the early feathered theropod dinosaur Archaeopteryx preserved in such detail that they are among the most famous and most beautiful fossils in the world. 

The Solnhofen beds lie in the German state of Bavaria (Bayern), halfway between Nuremberg (Nürnberg) and Munich (München) and were originally quarried as a source of lithographic limestone. The Jura Museum situated in Eichstätt, Germany has an extensive exhibit of Jurassic fossils from the quarries of Solnhofen and surroundings, including marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and one specimen of the early bird Archaeopteryx.

While all the first discoveries were from Bavaria, Germany, we have now found wonderfully preserved specimens in Liaoning, China, including Xiaotingia zhengi. The fossils we find in Germany are in a very fine-grained limestone that preserved their features with remarkable detail. 

These delightful proto-birds were preserved at the bottom of a shallow tropical marine lagoon whose lime-rich muds slowed their decay and encased their bones— and feathers— in mud.