Meeting the Urvogel

Greetings from Deutschland! I’ve returned from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting in Berlin. Here’s a couple of snapshots from the Museum fur Naturkunde, where the welcome reception was held last week. Giraffatitan (nee Brachiosaurus) brancai supervised the shenanigans in the main entrance hall.

The dinosaur gallery is dominated by animals from the Tendaguru Formation in Tanzania, which was pretty neat. Most of us in North America are pretty familiar with the animals from the Morrison Formation, so it was neat to see some of their African doppelgangers, like Dysalotosaurus (American counterpart: Dryosaurus).

Elaphrosaurus, a ceratosaurian, was a new theropod for me.

And here’s Kentrosaurus (American counterpart: Stegosaurus), with some excellent parascapular osteoderms.

SVP is probably the only place where Archaeopteryx would have a lineup akin to someone meeting a rock star, but it IS a rock star in the palaeontological world.

It was pretty special to be able to see this famous fossil in the fossilized flesh. Archaeopteryx is sometimes called the Urvogel, or ‘original bird’ in German, and even though many new discoveries show that Archaeopteryx is not the only feathered dinosaur out there, it will always have an important place in the history of evolutionary study.

Elsewhere in the museum, there were many fun treasures to be found, like this hippo skeleton.

The wet collections were spectacular and overwhelming.

Hey look, a Wall of Stuff! I love Walls of Stuff!

Walls of Stuff often reward close inspection. I learned about a new kind of large amphibian, the amphiuma! (The amphiuma’s the one with the highly reduced legs; I’ve now forgotten what the other big salamander was!)

I was excited to see a quagga in the biodiversity gallery!

And a thylacine!!

This comparison of aquatically-adapted skeletons was a great way to show homologies and convergences in skeletons. One half of the body was a fleshed-out model, and the other was a skeleton (all were scaled to about the same length). In this photo you can see a sea turtle, seal or sea lion, dolphin, fish, and ichthyosaur, and there was also a penguin, hesperornithid, and plesiosaur in the case as well.

That’s all for Berlin for now, and I’m hoping to share some more information about Mongolian ankylsoaurs and some other exciting news in the next week or so! Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Meeting the Urvogel

  1. Looks like an excellent place to visit! Thanks for taking us along!

    I've finally figured out what I need to do to be able to comment on your blog — in the browser (Firefox, in my case), enable to set cookies whenever it wants (I have 3rd-party coookies turned off — except for, now).

    — the other Victoria, from the first Dino 101 class 🙂


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