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  1. a reptilelike fossil bird of the genus Archaeopteryx, from the late Jurassic Period, having teeth and a long, feathered, vertebrate tail.
Compare protoavis.

Origin of archaeopteryx

1855–60; < New Latin < Greek archaio- archaeo- + ptéryx wing
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for archaeopteryx

Historical Examples

  • Nevertheless, in some other respects, Archaeopteryx is unlike a bird and like a reptile.

    Lectures on Evolution

    Thomas Henry Huxley

  • It is in this matter that the famous Archaeopteryx plays an important part.

  • The importance of Archaeopteryx justifies the following descriptive detail.

  • Nor do I think it likely that the transition from the reptile to the bird has been effected by such a form as Archaeopteryx.

    Lectures on Evolution

    Thomas Henry Huxley

  • It seems just possible that in Archaeopteryx the metapatagium was more Bat-like.

British Dictionary definitions for archaeopteryx


  1. any of several extinct primitive birds constituting the genus Archaeopteryx, esp A. lithographica, which occurred in Jurassic times and had teeth, a long tail, well-developed wings, and a body covering of feathers

Word Origin

C19: from archaeo- + Greek pterux winged creature
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for archaeopteryx


oldest known fossil bird, 1859, Modern Latin, from archaeo- "ancient, primitive" + Greek pteryx "wing" (see pterodactyl).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

archaeopteryx in Science


  1. An extinct primitive bird of the genus Archaeopteryx of the Jurassic Period, having characteristics of both birds and dinosaurs. Like dinosaurs, it had a long, bony tail, claws at the end of its fingers, and teeth. Like birds it had wings and feathers. Many scientists regard it as evidence that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs. See Note at bird.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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