Critter of the Month: Archaeopteryx

Meet Tango.ย This bird likes to party, and loves being the center of attention even more!


Archaeopteryx has been a known fossil for quite some time. Ever since that famous feather discovered in German limestone in 1860, and then the first skeleton in 1861.

Since then there have been many attempts to bring it to life through art, and just like Sir Richard Owen’s famous Iguanodon, it’s appearance varies quite a lot. I’ve been having some fun looking at some of these reconstructions, because Tango is in need of an update…and who really needs a serious reason for browsing old paleoart anyway? ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh, and blanket disclaimer here, only the illustration above and the photos in the progress section are mine. All other images were found through Google search and given proper credit if I have it. ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the earliest illustrations of Archaeopteryx I could find, from 1886. I’m not sure who the artist was, but don’t you love the vulture vibe? ๐Ÿ˜›


This next illustration was painted by Joseph Smit (Smit, not Smith. That’s not a typo lol), who was a Dutch zoological illustrator. This illustration of his vulturesque archaeopteryx and a charmingly pudgy compsognathus sent me down a rabbit hole of his other works. I really should make a few posts simply featuring other paleoartists, because even though his art is obviously inaccurate, it still has quite a lot of charm to it. ๐Ÿ™‚


The next three images you’ll remember from my teaser post. ๐Ÿ™‚ Gerhard Heilmann published The Origin of Birdsย in 1926, where he had some beautiful reconstructions of Archaeopteryx. This book surely inspired Manfred Reichel, who also had a lovely, very naturalistic portrayal of Archaeopteryx.

1924 Archaeopteryx courting






The painting above is by Zdenek Burian, 1961. Absolutely gorgeous and obviously taking inspiration Manfred Reichel’s work. I also really like the confrontational illustration below. ๐Ÿ™‚



Now for some reason, the more we come to the present day, the more garish some reconstructions get…

bakker 1986.jpg
Robert Bakker, 1986. I love him to bits, but these guys look pretty monstrous.
Gregory Paul. A prime example of 1980’s shrink-wrapping.
Luis Rey, 2001. I’m not a huge fan of his style.

But not all modern or near modern reconstructions are shrink-wrapped dinos in feather suits. Some are actually quite lovely, or propose interesting scenarios. ๐Ÿ™‚ Though you may notice the “mouth wide open, wings outspread” meme happening quite a lot.

Jon Gurche, 1986
Mark Hallett, 1996
Mark Hallett, 1996

And that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed browsing through my art research! I had a lot of fun finding all these. ๐Ÿ˜€


Making progress…


What a month! Crazy weather, sick children, and injured chickens. The trees here send off huge clouds of pollen in the wind. I’m one of those lucky people not really bothered by seasonal allergies, but these clouds where so thick everything left outside even just a few hours was covered in pastel green. It’s like being in a sawmill on a windy day, so the whole family’s been hacking and sneezing with the stuff.

Makes me wonder if dinosaurs ever got allergies, because clouds of pollen blowing in the wind is how many plants would pollinate at the time. No bees or butterflies to help pollinate, though I hear beetles and other creepy crawlies can do the job for a smelly cycad.

In any case, maybe dinosaurs didn’t get allergies, because the chickens don’t really seem bothered, but the horses sometimes are. Ever seen a horse sneeze? It’s hilarious. ๐Ÿ˜€


Speaking of chickens, my young chicks are getting big!ย They graduated to a bigger pen to run around in. It didn’t take long to eat all the grass, but fresh hay to peck at, eat, or lounge in turns a good day to a great day. ๐Ÿ˜€ My kids enjoy pulling up handfuls of grass and giving it to them, and they’ll show a little bit of their raptor ancestry if you toss in a scoopful of dried worms. Yumm!!

They have to stay in a fenced-in yard for their protection. They’re not very fast, and there are lots of critters that agree on how delicious chicken nuggets are. Including the ranch dogs. Plus it keeps them from being bullied by our egg-laying chickens. ๐Ÿ™‚

What’choo lookin’ at?
My four littles, all dressed up for Spring pictures. ๐Ÿ˜€ โค

Just one more thing I want to share, and it’s a little more serious, but important.

I’ve been sharing quite a bit more about real life here than I normally would lately, because it’s too easy to forget that the person on the other side of the screen has a real life apart from this website.

Real life is messy, challenging, enriching, and the source of my inspiration. My family is my life, my full-time job I wouldn’t trade for the world, and now my family is growing a little more.

Each pregnancy is different, a new journey full of surprises no matter how many times I go through it. Looking back through my posts over the years, I was posting at least once a week through my last pregnancy! This time, things are completely different.ย  This time, I find myself slowing down, cutting back on technology to take more time outside.

The more Babysaurus grows, the more I focus on the moment and preparing for his arrival. (We’ve decided on the name Peter by the way ๐Ÿ˜€ )

There’s actually a lot of really cool science behind why this happens, but I’ll save you the details lol. Let’s just say that pregnancy is wonderful and strange, and the body and brain changes in a lot more ways than just growing a baby bump. ๐Ÿ˜€ Right now, absolutely everything, physically and mentally, is focusing entirely on when Babysaurus will get here.

Even drawing prehistoric critters has become hard to do. And I love drawing prehistoric critters.

I must say that this intense focus on all things Baby (and almost complete brain shut-down on anything not to do with Baby and pregnancy) has taken me completely by surprise. I thought I’d be able to continue posting like I did last time, or have a few tidbits to schedule for you during my after-baby hiatus. But I can’t.

I even canceled the baby shower.

I will try my best for one more post before Babysaurus is born. On June 1st. But after that I will be taking a hiatus from the Paleo Petshop. Sept. 1st I will check back in here with a post and let you know how things are. I think that will be enough time to see how the dust settles once Baby arrives. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m in a season of life that is chaotic and full of change, so we’ll have to be flexible, and I deeply appreciate your understanding. If you don’t want to wait and decide to leave, I’ll be sorry to see you go, but I completely understand.

Thank you for stopping by and chatting with me a while. I truly appreciate you and the time you spend here. ๐Ÿ™‚


Coming June 1st…

This big guy needs a lot of space to swim…you wouldn’t happen to have a goldfish bowl the size of the Mediterranean would you?ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Share your guess in the comments! He’s oneย of the critters over on the critter page. ๐Ÿ™‚

16 thoughts on “Critter of the Month: Archaeopteryx

  1. Tango’s got lots of friends! It’s really interesting–and also kind of funny–to see all the different interpretations of archaeopteryx. ๐Ÿ˜€ I really like the colors in the confrontational illustration and Mark Hallott’s paintings, even though they had different colors. I especially like the painting where archaeopteryx goes fishing. ๐Ÿ˜› Did they eat fish often?

    Just one more egg left! Exciting. ๐Ÿ˜€ And n’aww, I love that picture with all the kids! Can’t wait to see baby Peter, too. I’m glad you’ll be able to take a little break to focus on babysaurus, I’m sure that’ll give you a chance to rest a bit. As cool as prehistoric dinos are, there’s so many other adventures to look forward to!

    …lol, and there are also plenty of present-day dinos to look after. It’s amazing how quickly they grow! I like they’re expressions. ๐Ÿ˜› And no, I never have seen a horse sneeze–that’s so funny!


    1. Hi Brownie, so good to see you here! Thank you very much for your patience ๐Ÿ™‚

      I had a lot of fun seeing the various reconstructions of Archaeopteryx, and Mark Hallot’s painting are lovely and naturalistic reconstructions. Of course, he can be excused for not knowing the critter’s colors, since it’s only in recent years that we were able to tell that Archaeopteryx had some black. Of course, how much black coloration the critter had in its feathers is up for debate. ๐Ÿ˜€

      As for the fish painting…the Archaeopteryx fossils we have exist because it lived near a lagoon or deep lake with very fine sediment on the bottom (and a layer of water so deep there was no oxygen). So it at least was around the water quite a lot. I don’t think it did any fishing though, and that’s pure speculation. ๐Ÿ™‚ It would be safe to say Archaeopteryx wouldn’t turn its nose up at some free fish washed onto shore. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Lol, I’m glad you like my little dinos. They are so fat now!

      Thank you again for stopping by! ๐Ÿ™‚


          1. Lol, I looked up a couple of Youtube videos of sneezing chickens. Absolutely hilarious! My chickens sound pretty funny when they sneeze, but some of the videos they sounded like squeaky toys getting stepped on LOL ๐Ÿ˜€


      1. Hi David! Thank you so much for your patience!

        Lol, I don’t know much about specific Pokemon moves, but that sounds like a pretty accurate move set for Tango. ๐Ÿ˜€ Of course, a precise Pokemon counterpart would be Archeops or Archen, since they’re directly inspired by Archeopteryx. ๐Ÿ™‚ I always thought Archeops was a cool Pokemon.

        And you’re right! Gulper is next. ๐Ÿ™‚


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