Compsognathus, the tiny terror near and dear to everyone who has seen a JP film. It was once recognized as the smallest dinosaur when it was discovered in 1850 and approximately chicken sized, but that was now known to be a juvenile. A fully grown Compsognathus was one poultry size up to about turkey range, at 1.2 meters (4 feet) long and 7 pounds at most. It was a delicate creature with light bones and a slim body, and it would’ve spent its days in the middle Jurassic darting and hopping about in the underbrush. If you can imagine it, Compsognathus was the apex predator of the ancient tropical island archipelago it lived on, being the only dinosaur found there. It would’ve competed with small pterosaurs and Archaeopteryx during its rein of terror over small lizards, insects, and mouselike mammals. It is found and best known from the Solnhofen formation in Bavaria, Germany in the well preserved limestone slabs.
- Compsognathus was very limber, and it was capable of running 60 kph (40 mph)!
- Even though it’s jaws were filled with dozens on dozens of tiny sharp teeth, Compsognathus preferred to swallow things whole. Skeletons of its favorite prey Bavarisaurus, a small lizard, were found so often swallowed whole within Compsognathus stomachs that it was thought originally to be unborn embryos!
- Compsognathus is incorrectly identified in Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Dr. Robert Burke calls it Compsognathus triassicus, but that species actually refers to Procompsognathus from the Triassic period and it is only distantly related. This is possibly an Easter egg from the novels, where it was in fact actually Procompsognathus that appeared originally.
- Though other compsognathids were feathered, fossil evidence shows that Compsognathus itself was not.
- It’s name means “Elegant Jaw.”
Would you like to see Compsognathus in Jurassic World: Alive?
How do you think it would be in game?
Dinosaurs we would Like #19 - Plateosaurus