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Dinosaur of the Day #246 - Compsognathus

compys
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Despite its diminutive size Compsognathus is one of the dinosaurs that are best known to science.‭ ‬Not only was the skeleton well persevered but the remains of its last meal,‭ ‬a small lizard named Bavarisaurus were also found inside the specimen proving without doubt that Compsognathus was a carnivore.‭ ‬At the time of its discovery Compsognathus was the smallest dinosaur known to the still new science of palaeontology resulting in the frequent comparison of Compsognathus being the size of a chicken‭ (‬although one meter long about half that length is tail‭)‬.‭ ‬However Compsognathus no longer carries the title of smallest dinosaur as the discovery of maniraptorian dinosaurs like Microraptor has shown that dinosaurs were capable of being very small,‭ ‬and further discoveries are likely to reduce this size even further.

The holotype specimen of Compsognathus was of a juvenile individual meaning that the full size of Compsognathus was not realised until the discovery of a French specimen in‭ ‬1971.‭ ‬Initially hailed as a second species,‭ ‬further study revealed it to be the adult form of the juvenile German holotype.‭ ‬This realisation increased the known length of Compsognathus from eighty-nine centimetres to one hundred and twenty-five centimetres.

Most early reconstructions of Compsognathus show it‭ ‬to have two fingers similar to Tyrannosaurus however these are based upon a product of incomplete preservation.‭ ‬Compsognathus did indeed have a third finger like many other theropod dinosaurs,‭ ‬something that is becoming increasingly‭ ‬well-known with accurate modern reconstructions showing Compsognathus to have three fingers.

The main prey of Compsognathus appears to have been small lizards as evidenced by the remains of fossilised prey in both specimens.‭ ‬These lizards are found in a relatively complete state suggesting that they were not pulled apart but swallowed whole.‭ ‬Invertebrates like insects may have also formed a part its diet,‭ ‬especially in smaller juveniles that were not yet large enough to swallow whole lizards.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬well preserved fossils of the related Sinosauropteryx show that small mammals may also have formed a part of the diet of Compsognathus.

Compsognathus was well adapted to catching small and presumably fast moving prey like lizards that would have scurried into the undergrowth as soon as they were seen.‭ ‬The long legs that featured a proportionately small humerus when compared to the lower legs are a hall mark of a fast runner.‭ ‬The feet of Compsognathus were also digitigrade meaning that Compsognathus essentially balanced on its toes rather than the flat of its foot.‭ ‬This also means that the main foot bones served to extend the length of the leg and increase the striding length even further.‭ ‬A fast running animal would also explain the very long tail of Compsognathus.‭ ‬Held erect off the ground,‭ ‬the tail would have been a versatile balancing aid when chasing after prey.

The large eyes of Compsognathus suggest that it was a visually orientated predator that may have reacted more to the movement of prey.‭ ‬This would have required fast reflexes to stop prey from escaping,‭ ‬but aside from being a fast runner,‭ ‬the long neck of Compsognathus meant that it could quickly move its head to the sides without moving its body.‭ ‬Compsognathus would also be able to work its head into the undergrowth and pull out prey that was using it for cover.

Compsognathus has a long standing association with Archaeopteryx due to their shared presence in the same deposit,‭ ‬as well as stark similarities which include a specimen that was thought to belong to Compsognathus being revealed to be an Archaeopteryx without the feather preservation.‭ ‬For a long time the question of‭ ‬‘if Compsognathus had‭ ‬feathers‭?’ ‬has been asked by many.‭ ‬Chinese relatives of Compsognathus such as Sinocalliopteryx and Sinosauropteryx show a covering of primitive feathers,‭ ‬different from those seen in modern birds but enough to provide insulation as well as possibly serve a display purpose.‭ ‬The discovery of Juravenator,‭ ‬also from Germany was initially hailed as a relative to Compsognathus that seemed to confirm a lack of protofeathers as evidenced by a skin impression.‭ ‬However a review of Juravenator by Xu Xing in‭ ‬2010‭ ‬revealed a very light covering of protofeathers in the skin impression that are visible under ultraviolet light.‭ ‬These pieces of evidence combine to the suggestion that it is at least possible that Compsognathus had primitive feathers,‭ ‬something which might one day be confirmed by directly attributable fossil evidence.

Eggs that are ten millimetres long were once thought to have possibly belonged to Compsognathus on the basis that they were found in close proximity to Compsognathus remains.‭ ‬However these are no longer thought to have belonged to Compsognathus on the principals that they were not found inside Compsognathus,‭ ‬and that the related and similarly sized Sinosauropteryx had eggs preserved in its oviducts that were much larger at thirty-six by twenty-six millimetres long.‭

compsognathus-size

Rarity: Epic.
Tier: TBA.
Health: 3600
Damage: 1200
Speed: 128
Armour: 0%
Critical: 5%

Cunning Strike.
Hop and Mock.
Alert Scurry.
Alert the Flock.
Alert Swarm.
Absorb.

Resistant to reduced damage (66%), rending (33%), speed decrease (100%) and stun (50%).

It has been long in coming but we have Compy’s added to the game. So, we have a flock of creatures with reasonable set of stats. Good health, damage and speed. Looking at their abilities, we have a flock that is based on debuffing the opposition and healing themselves. Compsognathus could well be a nuisance type creature - wearing the opponent down and then keeping itself alive.

Without, at this time, having not played Compsognathus, I think they may be okay for the Arena but I’m not so convinced that flocking will be all that useful in Raids (yet). They are going to take some practice to see how and where they will work best.

What are your thoughts on Compsognathus?

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the whole flock mechanic will be interesting to see whilst fighting with it or against it, especially in skill and advantage tourneys since I can see it being one of the new normal lvl 20s being used along with rex, diplo, erlik, brachi, etc

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I haven’t had chance to try out the flocking mechanic as my Compy’s and Dodo are levelling in sanctuaries right now, but they look both really cool and mind bending awkward at the same time.

You think Compsognathus will be that good as to be that high up?

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possibly, I’m gonna guess since its hybrid needs it to be lvl 20, it’ll be a regular with all the other lvl 20 non-hybrids in advantage tourneys. And so I don’t think there are epic or rare lvl 20’s with a group attack so I can see it doing well against mainly fierce creatures and possibly holding up against pesky swappers as long as it has 2 “lives”

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