Distribution and habitat

Archaeopteryx lived near a large shallow, coastal lagoon.

Archaeopteryx lived near a large shallow, coastal lagoon.

Archaeopteryx fossils have been found only in the Atlmuhl valley in Bavaria, Germany. Ten specimens have been discovered over a period of 150 years from lithographic limestone quarries all within 15 km of each other. 

147 million years ago the area was covered by a shallow and often stagnant coastal lagoon fringed with low vegetation. The animals must have fallen into the water and then sank slowly into the thick plastic mud where they were preserved in great detail. 

The lithographic limestone is one of the world’s most famous fossil preservations. The beautifully preserved fossils of animals that lived in the lagoon include fishes, crustaceans, crinoids and starfishes, together with land animals that were washed in to or fell in to the water - lizards, small dinosaurs and pterosaurs.