This Feathery Dinosaur Probably Flew, But Not Like Any Bird You Know

In 1861, German paleontologist Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer wrote a short paper about a fossil so unusual he first thought it was a fake. What appeared to be a bird feather was pressed into 150-million-year-old limestone. Von Meyer labeled it Archaeopteryx, meaning old wing, and a full skeleton was found shortly thereafter.

The bones, discovered two years after Charles Darwin published his “On the Origin of Species,” revealed a path to modern birds from their prehistoric ancestors. This discovery was a hint of a revelation to come much later: Birds are living dinosaurs.

During the next 150-plus years, paleontologists discovered 10 more Archaeopteryx skeletons. A picture of the creature emerged, of a dinosaur the size of a crow, weighing little more than a pound and covered in plumage. But feathers, as the penguin and ostrich know, do not necessarily mean…

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