Coelophysis

Coelophysis

Pronunciation:
seel-OH-fie-sis
Name meaning:
'hollow form'
Coelophysis
Dinosaur description:
27kg, 2.0m-long
small theropod
small theropod silhouette
Diet:
carnivorous carnivorous food icon
Country:
South Africa, USA, Zimbabwe
Period:
Late Triassic, 225-190 million years ago
Teeth:
small and sharp
How it moved:
on 2 legs
Food:
vertebrates

Early carnivores

In the Late Triassic Period dinosaurs were not at the top of the food chain. Instead, early large reptiles called phytosaurs and rauisuchids domintated.

Early meat-eating dinosaurs like Coelophysis relied on their speed and agility to catch a variety of animals like insects and small reptiles. The sharp teeth and grasping claws of Coelophysis would have helped them to hold and kill their food.

Cannibalism?

A fossil find of an adult skeleton with what appeared to be young Coelophysis bones inside its rib cage led scientists to speculate that Coelophysis ate each other when the opportunity arose.

Recent analysis has disproved this, however, by showing that the bones inside the ribcage are not a baby Coelophysis after all, but belong to a small crocodile.

Hollow bones

Coelophysis means 'hollow form' and this comes from the hollow limb bones. This feature was shared by many other dinosaurs, and would have given Coelophysis a lightly-built body, helping it to be a swift, agile hunter.

Taxonomic details

Taxonomy:
Dinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Coelophysoidea, Coelophysidae
Type species:
bauri
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