Kookaburra (ModernAnimal)
Brown Kookaburra (Future Animal)

Archaeopteryx


external image archaeopteryx.jpg
Image 5: The Archaeopteryx
Source: http://www.dinosaurspark.com/detail/?dinoname=Archaeopteryx

It has been found that the Kookaburra itself has been around for many years and its true ansestor is unknown. Though the Archaeopteryx is not the direct ansestor of the Kookaburra, it has been known to be the orignin of birds, which makes it have a link with the birds and therefore the Kookaburras. The word Archaeopteryx means ancient wing.

The Archaeopteryx existed around 150 million years ago (late Jurassic period), it was an omnivour, and was the first primitive bird known. They were mainly found in Europe and Germany and lived on the land. They were quite small in size, around the size of a pigeon and did not weigh very much due to their boney body and light feathers. They were known to not fly very well due to the lack of muscles in the wings, but they were very good runners and climbers as it can be seen from the long legs and sharp claws.

Level
Classification
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Archaeopterygiformes
Family
Archaeopterygidae
Genus
Archaeopteryx
Species
A. Lithographica

Diagram2.jpg


image4_archaeopteryxadaptation.jpg
Diagram 5: Archaeopteryx Adaptations
Source (Photo Only): http://www.rmrp.info/archaeopteryx.htm

Adaptations

Structural Adaptation One
Though the Archaeopteryx was found at the period of the dinosaurs, it was very different.Unlike the Dinosaurs, the Archaeopteryx had feathers instead of scales. These feathers would not only make the animal lighter, it could have also been used to scare away predators, as it had bright coloured wings. The main cause of this change could have been because of the need to escape fast from predators.

Structural Adaptation Two
Compared to the Archaeopteryx's body, the feet of the Archaeopteryx was quite large and had big claws. Compared to the Kooaburra, the claws were massive, and it shows that these claws were not just used for gripping onto the branches of trees, they would have also been used to do things such as kill prey. The main cause of this difference would be because of the types of predators and prey the Archaeopteryx and Kookaburra were and are facing. The Kookaburra can kill the prey easily, but the Archaeopteryx may have had to kill much larger prey, and defend against much larger creatures such as the dinosaurs. The Archaeopteryx was also not a very good flyer, so its legs would have to be strong to run fast and get away from prey.

Structural Adaptation Three
Unlike the Kookaburra, the Archaeopteryx was bright in colour, some say that it was mainly brown, and some say that it was mainly green, but it is clear that either of these feather colours would help them camoflauge in the trees and branches. The main reason for camoflauging would be because the Archaeopteryx was not a good flyer, so it needed to protect itself using other methods.

Behavioural Adaptation One
There has been research showing that the Archaeopteryx ate both grass and meat, but because on the islands they lived on there were not many large trees, so they mainly ate meat. Due to their diet, the Archaeopteryx would have had to develop a method of catching prey, and their sharp teeth would have helped them. Their sharp teeth not only show evidence of them eating meat, it also shows that their may have been lots of ripping in this process in order to kill the animal. The Archaeopteryx also had a small beak, so this ripping process would help make the meat smaller for it to eat. The cause of this adaptation could have been because the grass could have required more effort to digest and the animals were easier to catch, so the Archaeopteryx would require sharp teeth to catch, kill and eat these animals.

Behavioural Adaptation Two
There were many large animals at that time, so the Archaeopteryx needed to develop a method of escaping, and because most of their predators would be on the land, their only way of getting away from them is to be flying to a safe height. They would use their strong legs to climb up the trees and then use their feathered wings to help them glide to a higher area, for example a tree or rock. This method of escape was not considered very effective, but due to the small amount of predators, the method did not have to be very effective. The environmental pressure that may have caused the Archaeopteryx to develop this defence behaviour is that they did not have many predators, and most of them would be on the land. A reconsructed image of the escape behaviour can be seen in Image 9.
archaopteryx_launch.png
Image 4: Archaeopteryx Method of escape
Source: http://beta.revealedsingularity.net/article.php?art=bird_evo


Habitat

fossil_habitat_map.JPG
Map 1: Distribution of the Archaeopteryx
Source: http://www.kidsdinos.com/dinosaurs-for-children.php?category=Animals%20(Contemporary%20With%20Dinosaurs)

Distribution
The Archaeopteryx lived 150 million years ago in modern Germany and Europe (as shown in Map 1) and because their fossils were found in the anoxic waters of the lagoons near the islands people belive that they used to live on the low low lying islands in Europe. The Archaeopteryx lived on land as everything they needed was there and they spent most of their time on trees. There were not many animals on the islands they lived on, and one of these animals was the Compsognathus
which was the size of a turkey.

Unlike the Kookaburras, the place that the Archaeopteryx lived in was much smaller and so, they lived on land did not need to travel far for food, this could be why they needed the long legs - to get around and run fast on land.

Climate
The Archaeopteryx lived in a tropical environment, which means the environment was warm and the average precipitation would be at least 60 mm. This would be a very relaxing environment for the Archaeopteryx to live in and it would also mean that though the quantity of trees was very little, most would have been of good quality, providing a place for them to sit on. This climate could have been one reason why the Archaeopteryx had feathers instead of scales, as it would be cooler for them in this type of weather.

Plants
On the islands they lived on there has been little evident of large trees, and this would mean that it would be quite hard to find grass and leaves to eat, which could be the reason why their diet is mainly meat. This environment could be the main cause of the Archaeopteryx having strong sharp teeth, as they had to rip and chew the meat.

Diet/Prey
Due to the lack of trees on the islands they lived on, the Archaeopteryx mainly ate small animals and insects, for example lizards and dragonflies. If they were looking for insects, they would notmally look for them in their feathers and pick them out using their teeth, or they would find them under dead animals and on the ground. Their diet could have been one reason why the Archeaopteryx needed sharp claws and sharp teeth, so that they could pick the insects out and rip the meat apart to eat.

Reason for Extinction

The reason for the extinction of the Archaeopteryx is unknown, but there has been research showing many possibilities. The Archaeopteryx did not live for very long, and this could be because they did not have very strong methods of defence. They also had very heavy bones and very little muscles compared to the birds today which means that they would have found it hard to fly, and even if they could fly, it wouldn't be for long distances. The Archaeopteryx did not eat a large variety of food and most of the time, they would have to find it, so they could have also died from starvation.


Bibliography

Buzzle.com. (2010). What is Archaeopteryx. Retrieved June 17, 2011, from Buzzle.com: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/what-is-archaeopteryx.html
KidsDinos.com. (2011). Archaeopteryx . Retrieved June 19, 2011, from KidsDinos.com: http://www.kidsdinos.com/dinosaurs-for-children.php?category=Animals%20(Contemporary%20With%20Dinosaurs)
Lenicia. (n.d.). Archaeopteryx. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from Kapunahala Elementary: http://www.k12.hi.us/~kapunaha/student_projects/gr2dinos/index/archaeopteryx.htm
Nedin, C. (1999, January 15). All About Archaeopteryx. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from Talk Origins: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/archaeopteryx/info.html
Orenstein, R. (1995). How Archaeopteryx May Have Used Its Wings. Retrieved June 19, 2011, from http://www.dinosauria.com/jdp/archie/wings.htm
Wikipedia. (2011, June 16). Archaeopteryx. Retrieved June 19, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeopteryx
Wiley, A. (n.d.). Archaeopteryx. Retrieved June 17, 2011, from http://www.makalapa.k12.hi.us/Makalapa_Folder/HTML/adapt&survive/aw/archaeopteryx.htm