16. The Berlin Archaeopteryx, 1881


In 1877, a second and even more spectacular Archaeopteryx specimen was discovered in the same Bavarian limestone that had yielded the first in 1861. It was more spectacular because the new specimen had a head. And although the skull was somewhat birdlike, it was endowed with a full set of reptilian teeth. Huxley's proposal that Archaeopteryx was a link between birds and reptiles was greatly strengthened by the new discovery. This specimen too was offered up for sale, but German authorities made sure that it did not leave the country like its predecessor. It now rests in the Humboldt Museum and is usually known as the Berlin specimen. Several illustrations of the Berlin Archaeopteryx were published in the years after its discovery, but we chose to exhibit this short article, because of its author, and because of the nature and quality of the reproduction. Harry G. Seeley was one of the great Victorian students of dinosaurs, best known for his work on classifying dinosaurs (see item 20). The illustration was produced from a photograph, with the intermediary of an artist. It is small, only 13.5 x 11 cm., and thus quite a contrast to Owen's enormous plate (see item 14). But it is an exquisite lithograph, and it demonstrates that an illustration need not be large to be effective.

It is interesting to compare Seeley's illustration to that of Carl Vogt.


Seeley, Harry G.. "On some differences between the London and Berlin specimens referred to Archaeopteryx," in: Geological Magazine, series 2, vol. 8 (1881), pp. 454-455. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 16.

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