Artist's rendering of two Archaeopteryx fighting over a small lizard that one is holding in its mouth
Exhibition

The Fossil that Changed the World

Meet the Chicago Archaeopteryx

The Chicago Archaeopteryx is a rare fossil that reveals the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. The fossil is currently off display, but will be back by popular demand on Friday, June 28.

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Exhibition Summary

Ticketing

Included with Basic admission

When exhibit closes

Opens Jun 28, 2024

Targeted age groups

All ages

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Exhibition Highlights

See a real, Jurassic-era Archaeopteryx fossil up-close

Watch Archaeopteryx come to life in a 3D animated projection

Discover the importance of this small but mighty dinosaur

What is an Archaeopteryx?

How do you pronounce Archaeopteryx?

ar-key-AHP-ter-icks

Every bird you’ve ever seen— every pigeon at a bus stop, every penguin at the zoo— is a living, breathing dinosaur. Birds are the only group of dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction caused when an asteroid hit the Earth 66 million years ago. A fossil called Archaeopteryx, with feathers, hollow bones, clawed wings, fifty tiny teeth, and a long bony tail, is the earliest known dinosaur that also qualifies as a bird.

This is the Chicago Archaeopteryx—one of only a dozen fossils of this animal ever found. Scientists will be studying this fossil for years to come.

Unlike other dinosaurs that used feathers only to keep warm, or, perhaps, for display, Archaeopteryx was feathered, and was able to fly and glide. This trait inspired the name Archaeopteryx, which translates to “ancient wing.” Impressions of feathers are extraordinarily well preserved in the Chicago Archaeopteryx.

Archaeopteryx Timeline

  • 201 million years ago
  • 150 million years ago
  • 66 million years ago
  • 1859
  • 1861
  • 1868
  • 1926
  • 1964
  • 1986
  • 1996
  • 2022
  • 2024
201 million years ago

The Jurassic Period begins.

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Locations of Archaeopteryx

There are 10 Archaeopteryx on public exhibition. The Chicago specimen is the only one in a major city in the Western Hemisphere.

Meet the Team

Countless people devoted their time and expertise to procuring, preparing, and researching the Chicago Archaeopteryx and sharing it with the world. Here are three of the leaders of the project from the Field Museum.

Artist's rendering of two Archaeopteryx fighting over a small lizard that one is holding in its mouth

Museum Store

Chicago Archaeopteryx CollectionShop Online
Ticketing

Included with Basic admission

When exhibit closes

Opens Jun 28, 2024

Targeted age groups

All ages