[Hac-announce] 150 Years of Archaeopteryx

Thomas Platt tplatt13 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 7 14:37:11 EST 2011

Folks may be interested in this link:


Perhaps the excerpt most important to humanists is the following:

"Only in America? How ‘bout never in America!
There are a couple remarkable things about this coin. First, it’s  
amazing that the German government would honor Archaeopteryx by  
emblazoning its image2. Second, even more amazing is what’s inscribed  
on the edge of the coin: “Archaeopteryx – Zeuge der Evolution,” which  
translates to “Archaeopteryx – witness evolution.” Sadly, it’s only  
“amazing” to Americans. Can any US citizen imagine our Congress  
voting to inscribe the word “evolution” on our money…or use a symbol  
of evolution like Archaeopteryx? The Bank of England likewise puts  
Charles Darwin on its 10-pound note without fear of remonstration.  
It’s hard to see that happening here. Maybe Archaeopteryx can help us  
fight the good fight!"

While Archaeopteryx still merits the description "A fossil caught in  
the act of evolution", it is now considered by paleontologists to be  
more of a feathered non-avian dinosaur, a kind of uncle in the bird  
lineage.  Archaeopteryx had teeth instead of a beak, three claws on  
each wing, and a long tail.  Actually the young of at least one bird  
today, the Hoatzin, have claws on their wings which later drop off;   
Some actual birds, now extinct, had teeth;  But no bird today has a  
long tail, only a stubby "pygostyle",

A final point:  While it is  the 150th anniversary of the discovery  
and naming of Archaeopteryx, it is an interesting coincidence that A.  
lihographica lived about 150 million years ago.

		Tom Platt

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