THE COELUROSAURIAN DINOSAURS
New Mexcico, and Massachusetts, USA
Coelophysis is the oldest well known dinosaur. There are
several late Tirassic dinosaurs of about the same age such as
ischiasaurus, prosomsognathus, saltopus, staurikosarus, but each
is known only from one ot rwo skeletons. In 1947, a mass of a
hundred or more specimences was found at Ghost Ranch, New Mexcico.
The specimes of Coelophysis unearthed there included young and
old animals which ranged in size from 3.3-10ft. (1-3m) long.
Coelophysis was very slim and it could have run on two legs or on
four. The neck and tail were long. Tha hands had only three
fingers, but they were strong. Coelophysis had a long narrow
head, and its sharp jagged teeth show that it ate maeat -
ptobably the small lizard like animals that are found with it.
Some of the skeletons were found with smal Coelophysis bones
inside. It was thought that these were babies, rady to be born.
However, they are rather to big for that, and it may be that
Coelophysis was a cannibal
Coelurus was a very small dinosaur only 7ft. (2m) long
and very lightly built. Its skull would have fitted in man's hand.
Its bones were very light and the tail vertbrae were hollow. The
hand had only three fingers: the thumb was short and the other
two fingers: the thumb was short and the other two fingers very
long with sharp curved claws. Coelurus was similar to
Southern Germany and France
Compsognathus was closely related to coelurus and
lived at avout tghe same time, but in Europe. The adult was once
one of the smallest dinosaurs. Compsognathus was no bigger than a
hen. A single complete skeleton was found in Germany in 1861. In
this speciamen the tail was lifted up, and the head is bent over
the tail. This was thought to be an unnatrual position showing
that Compsognather was in agony. However, in many dead animals,
the head bends back as the neck muscles dry out. This speciman,
like some of those of coelophysis, had small bones inside it, and
it was thought that Compsognathus was also a vannibal. However,
it was determined that the bones belonged to a lizard.
Halticosaurus was a large coelurosaur, up 18ft,
(5.5m) long. It had five fingers on its hands, a feature of
primitve dinosaurs. The arms were shor, and the legs were strong.
The head was longand larg. Two skeletons of Hlaticosaurus have
been found i Germany together with the larger prosauropd
Ornitholestes was a small, lightly built meat-eater.
An almost complete skeleton shows that it was 6.5ft, (2m) long.
The legs and arms were slim and long. Ornitholestes had small
teeth and rather weak hands. It was clearly a fast runner, and
may have fed on small animals like lizards, frogs and early
mammals, which lived at that time. Ornitholestes is a very
similar to coelurus.
Before elegant jaw
Procompsognathus was a very small early dinosaur. It
was an agile meat-eater that could run fast and probably fed on
small lizardlike animals and insects. The skull of
Procompsognathus was only a little over three inches long; it had
large eyes and pointed curved teeth. Procompsognathus is related
to coelophysis, saltopus, and syntarsus.
Saltopus is one of the oldest dinosaur known. It was
named in 1910 from a samll skeleton found in a sandstone quarry.
Saltopus was an agile little animal, only 24in (60cm) long, and
it may have fed on small lizardlike animals and insects. Saltopus
had long hind legs, and it was thought to be a jumping animal.
However, it probably only ran, like ite relatives coelophysis and
Segi Canyon (where found) reptile
Segisaurus is a small early dinosaur. The incomplete
skeleton is rather like procompsognathus in some features. The
slim hind leg and foot are long and very similar. However, the
bones of Segisaurus are solid, whereas animals like.
Procompsognatus and coelophysis have hollow bones. Segisaurus
was probably an active runner and meat-eater, but this is not
Syntarsus was an interesting small dinosaur. It was
lightly built, two-legged meat-eater about 10ft. (3m) long. Syntarsus
was rather like coleophysis except that some of its ankle-bones
were fused or joined together. Some scientists have reconstructed
Syntarsus with a plume on the back of its head and a
covering of feathers. This was because thay wanted to prove that
dinosaurs were warm-blooded like birds (see Facts and
theoies page). However, the feathers in Syntarsus
were not proven.