Build & Characteristics
- Coelophysis’ name means “hollow form” because of its hollow limb bones.
- Coelophysis measured an average of 10 feet (3 meters) long and less than 4 feet tall, and weighed an average of just 50 pounds.
- They had 3 digits on each hand, sharp jagged teeth and were very fast runners which came in handy when hunting for prey.
- The hollow bones (much like modern birds) of Coelophysis helped them remain nimble and light on their feet. These dinosaurs also possessed a wishbone, one of the first dinosaurs to have been recorded having one.
- Coelophysis roamed what is now the American West including Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico during the Triassic Period (210 million years ago).
- Most scientists believe that Coelophysis was the first true dinosaur.
- It had been thought that Coelophysis possibly ate their own young, but more studies showed they weren’t hatchlings, but instead another tiny dinosaur called archosaur.
- Coelophysis had impeccable eyesight which may have made them nocturnal hunters, some scientist theorize they hunted in packs since many specimens are found together.
- The environment Coelophysis would have experienced looked like the desert conditions of today, but more like modern Kenya without grasses since grass hadn’t evolved yet.
- The first Coelophysis specimens were discovered by Edwin H. Colbert in 1947.
- Thousands of fossils of Coelophysis have been found in the Ghost Ranch Quarry in New Mexico. These fossils included all of the stages of life for this animal.
- Coelophysis fossilized skeleton can be found at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.