First discovered in 1861, Archaeopteryx lithographica was the first fossil to demonstrate an evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. As such, it rightly remains one of the most famous and important fossils in the history of paleontology.
Archaeopteryx rounds out Papo’s prehistoric assortment for 2014 and it does seem fitting that their first feathered dinosaur should be the legendary Ancient Wing itself. This one has been sculpted in a threatening stance with its feet planted, its wings spread wide, and its mouth open in a screech.
The Archaeopteryx has a length and a wingspan of about 13 cm. Unlike most of Papo’s prehistoric figures, it’s decked out in a multitude of colours. Its plumage is a combination of fiery orange, greyish-brown, beige, and white with vivid blue patches on the wings and back. The back of its neck is covered in dark blue feathers and topped off with a spiky orange crest. The scaly head and throat have been painted orange with a dark green wash, the eyes are yellow with red pupils, and the inside of the mouth is pink with tiny white teeth. Finally, the knobby bare hands and feet are beige with black claws.
The detailing is nothing short of spectacular. Each and every feather, from the large flight feathers on the wings and tail to the smaller contour feathers on the main body, has been carefully shaped and sculpted to resemble the real thing. The head, hands, and feet are covered in small scales and the roof of the mouth and the tongue are grooved. Whoever crafted this figure is a first rate talent.
But this being a Papo product, it’s not without its share of inaccuracies. Namely, the neck, legs, and toes are far too short and far too beefy. Indeed, they resemble those of a tyrannosaur. The real Archaeopteryx was a sleek, graceful animal; this depiction looks like it’s been overdosing on steroids. In addition, we now know that the second inner toes were raised, just like those on maniraptors.
After so many years of naked skinned dinosaurs, the Archaeopteryx is a welcome addition to the Papo line. It’s arguably their best sculpted figure yet. Now if only the designers could improve on scientific accuracy.
Available from Amazon.com here.