As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 17 March 2017

'Rock star' Archaeopteryx fossil heads for Japan

Jonathan Amos Science correspondent
8 March 2017

One of the true "rock stars" of the fossil world is going on tour for the first time. 

London's Natural History Museum has sent its specimen of Archaeopteryx - the so-called "first bird" - to Japan.

It is travelling in Asia with nearly 300 other treasures from the South Kensington institution's collections. 

The limestone slabs that contain the bones of this pivotal creature on the evolutionary line from dinosaurs to birds are considered priceless. 

They are also very delicate. But museum officials are satisfied the iconic fossil will come to no harm.

"The scary thing is that it contains parts that are only one or two millimetres in depth, and so for me going to Tokyo with it is a bit challenging," concedes Lorraine Cornish, the head of conservation at the NHM.

"But we're doing some exciting touring exhibitions - putting ourselves out there to promote our collections. And if you're going to do an exhibition about the 'treasures of the Natural History Museum' then you kind of have to include this fossil because it really is a treasure."

Purchased in 1863 for £700 from Germany, where it was unearthed, the fossil was kept initially at the British Museum before being moved to the NHM when it opened in 1881. It has not been out of the building since - until now.

The fossil is referred to by experts simply as the "London Specimen".

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