Analysis compares microscopic structures with modern birds’
It may be time to hatch a new crop of those colorful illustrations of early feathered creatures spreading their wings amid the branches of Late Jurassic trees. In life, a new study suggests, the fossil feather whose discovery gave rise to the name Archaeopteryx more than 150 years ago was actually black.
Longtime celebrities among fossils, Archaeopteryx lithographica specimens have until last year been largely accepted as the most ancient bird species known. Whether or not they end up retaining their claim as early birds, their feathers had small pigment-bearing structures that closely matched those found in today’s birds, Ryan Carney of Brown University in Providence, R.