An early bird

Archaeopteryx lithographica, a cast reproduction of a circa 150 million-year-old fossil of a crow sized proto-bird. This is one of the fossil sculptures on the downtown platform of the 81st Street-Museum of Natural History subway station.

Did you know feathers came about before flight? They seem to have been developed for insulation. So Archy probably didn’t fly: the remains show a relatively flat sternum, not the strongly keeled sternum that characterizes actual birds (the major flight muscles are attached there). But this dinobird may have glided or jumped around a lot. I imagine a fox-like leap onto its dinner. Hoppity-hop!

Today’s the last chance to bid on my services at the Nation’s on-line auction. The lucky winner gets a tour of the natural and unnatural history of Prospect Park. I won’t be going back 150 million years, but I will start with the ice that made all this real estate possible….

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