Procompsognathus: Dinosaur of the Day

Procompsognathus: Dinosaur of the Day

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Appears in the books, instead of Compsognathus (which are in the films). Somewhat venomous, and kill John Hammond at the end of the first book
No evidence that it was venomous in real life
Coelophysid that lived in the Triassic in what is now Germany (Löwenstein Formation)
Name means “before elegant jaw” and comes from the name Compsognathus
Compsognathus lived later, in the Jurassic
Procompsognathus looks similar to Compsognathus, but no evidence that it was a direct ancestor
Found in 1909 by Albert Burrer
Holotype is an adult and included a crushed jaw, vertebrae, ribs, a forelimb, and hindlimbs
Burrer sent the fossils to Professor Eberhaad Fraas to the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, and in 1911 Fraas referred to it as Hallopus celerrimus, and thought it was a jumping dinosaur that helped show the origin of birds. Then in 1913 Fraas officially named it Procompsognathus
Type species is Procompsognathus triassicus
In 1921 Friedrich von Huene referred two more specimens found in the same quarry (back in 1908) to Procompsognathus (included a partial skull and lower jaws, and a left hand
However, there is controversy about von Huene’s referred specimens. John Ostrom in 1982 said they were from a different taxon, and Fabien Knoll in 2006 and 2008 found that they were a crocodylopmorph or some basal archosaur. Then in 2012 Knoll confirmed with a CAT-scan that one of the specimens was a crocodylomorph
Lots of debate over where to place Procompsognathus in the dinosaur family tree
May be most closely related to Segisaurus halli
Lived in a dry, inland environment
Small, light, bipedal
Grew up to 3.3 ft (1 m) long, though estimates vary. Gregory Paul estimated it weighed 2.2 lb (1 kg), and was 3.6 ft (1.1 m) long
Had long legs, short arms, and claws
Probably a fast runner
Had a stiff tail
Had a slender snout, with lots of small teeth
Probably ate insects, lizards, and small prey
Other dinosaurs that lived in the same time and place included coelophysoids Halticosaurus and Dolichosuchus, sauropodomorphs Plateosaurus and Efraasia, as well as an unnamed herrerasaur and some theropods (found tracks only)
Type specimen is at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, in Germany

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