Ancient Wing

Archaeopteryx Lithographica

Archaeopteryx Lithographica

This cast of the original fossil, which was discovered and still resides in Germany today is the finest Archaeopteryx specimen ever found. It came to light in 1877, when the original discoverer, a farmer, sold it for a cow. Called the Berlin specimen, it was the first fossil to preserve the skull with its small teeth. It is one of the most famous fossils ever collected. Considered a link between the Jurassic dinosaurs and modern birds, this 150 million year old fossil was doctored by its initial preparers. Feathers on its legs were removed to make it appear more bird-like.

I made my own little archeological discovery over the weekend, when I found a living fossil in our kitchen. A tiny mosquito was resting on the white kitchen tile by the refrigerator. Initially, I figured it was dead, what with the polar vortex that had descended upon us by then, but no, it wiggled a couple of its legs when I approached, as if it was making ready to fly away. That particular wall is an exterior wall and as such is much colder than the rest of this drafty old house. Such was the state of this mosquito’s torpor that with my open palm, I easily smashed it against the wall. Examining my palm, on which it now lay and looking not too dissimilar to the crushed fossil pictured above, I wondered for a moment whether I had just done the right thing or not? Then I washed my hand.

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