Thunder Lizard Thursday: Compsognathus

Compsognathus  3_ 5_ 2015

Compsognathus ,Copyright 2015 Liz Vitale

Sometimes we must remember, my dear readers, that not all dinosaurs were the “thunder lizards” for which these posts are jestingly named….ohhhh, no. Case in point–the little Compsognathus.

It was once thought to be the smallest dinosaur that ever lived–about the size of a turkey. Compsognathus has since been bested by the even more wee Microraptor,however.

Compsognathus’ name means “pretty jaw”, possibly for the petite, delicate size; but don’t be fooled. Studies of the skeleton and how the musculature connected to it reveal that Compsognathus was incredibly fast and agile and caught not only small animals for prey but could also take down animals larger than itself.

One controversy about Compsognathus that hasn’t been settled yet is whether or not this early theropod sported primitive feathers, like so many others of its kind. No trace of feathers has been found in existing Compsognathus fossils, but then again, a soft, downy coat would have left little or no imprint in the fossil record.

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