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90 million years back in time

 
 

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COMPSOGNATHUS


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FAST FACTS

PERIOD: LATE JURASSIC
LENGTH: UP TO 1.25 M
WEIGHT: UP TO 3.5 KG

How do you say it?

comp-sog-NAY-thus

Discovery:

When:       1859
Where:      Germany
By Who:    Johann A Wagner
 

Fun Facts 

Compsognthatus had a long tail, which likely was used for balance during locomotion, and large eyes, which aided in hunting. 

The original Compsognathus fossil specimen was discovered in the Solnhofen Limestone - the same geologic unit that preserved the famous Archaeopteryx.

In 1868, Thomas H. Huxley found the Compsognathus to be closely related to Archaeopteryx, and therefore birds. 

Despite its size, Compsognathus may have been the top land predator throughout the islands which at the time, formed the European continent. 

Warm or Cold Blooded

Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

For a long time it was assumed that like other reptiles, dinosaurs must have been ectothermic, or "cold-blooded." This means they used energy from the sun to control their body temperatures. In the 1960's, famous dinosaur paleontologists John Ostrom and Robert "Bob" Bakker (a NJ native), ignited a vigorous debate when they suggested that dinosaurs may actually have been endothermic ("warm-blooded," meaning they regulate their body temperatures internally) like modern birds and mammals. 

Today we know that some dinosaurs probably were endothermic. After all, their remains have been found even in very cold regions of the planet, like near the north and south poles, where it is also very dark for much of the year. Endothermy would be particularly useful for smaller dinosaurs, like Compsognathus, to help them remain active throughout the cooler parts of the day.