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No. 59: Sep-Oct 1988

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THE NEW ARCHAEOPERYX FOSSIL

A new fossil of Archaeopteryx has been found in a private collection, where it was misclassified as a small dinosaur. The specimen was actually found many years ago by an amateur in the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen limestone in Bavaria, in about the same area as the Berlin and Eichstatt Archaeopteryx fossils. Under low-angle illumination, the new specimen shows parallel impressions originating from the lower arm of the left "wing." These impressions are "interpreted" as imprints of feather shafts. Thus, the new fossil reinforces the mainstream position that Archaeopteryx really did have feathers and was a link between reptiles and birds. Evolutionists will rest easier now.

Two bothersome observations intrude, however. First, although the report on the new specimen states that the question of forgery does not arise here, even though the specimen's tail has been restored to the length deemed by the owner. In addition, the new Archaeopteryx is 10% larger than the London specimen, 30% larger than the Berlin specimen, and fully twice the size of the Eichstatt specimen. Is there more than one Archaeopteryx species?

(Wellnhofer, Peter; "A New Specimen of Archaeopteryx," Science, 240:1790, 1988. Also: Wilford, John Noble; "Fossil May Help Tie Reptiles to Birds," New York Times, June 24, 1988. Cr. J. Covey) Comment. We wonder if Hoyle and Wickramasinghe will be allowed to examine the new specimen. Of course, this new discovery does not disprove the forgery claim for the two specimens studied by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe; it merely weakens their case.

From Science Frontiers #59, SEP-OCT 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss