Coelophysis

Coelophysis at Wingham Wildlife Park

Distribution:

Coelophysis inhabited Laramidia, an island continent which forms the eastern half of modern day North America.

Time Period:

They lived during the late Triassic period, 203-196 million years ago. The Triassic period followed the worst ever mass extinction of Earth at the end of the Permian era where roughly 90% of all species perished. It was also the first segment of the Mesozoic Era, in which the super continent of Pangaea first started to break apart and form smaller continents across the world. This was a time when animals outside of the oceans really started to diversify. It was a warm, dry period in which the first dinosaurs and mammals evolved and despite the huge loss of life and harsh conditions, new life began to thrive as the remaining species evolved into new niches.

Size:

These dinosaurs were 3 meters (9 ft) long, 1 meter (3.2 ft) high and weighed around 20kg.

Diet:

This was a carnivore which mostly fed on smaller animals like insects and lizards.

Interesting fact:

Coelophysis was one on the first dinosaurs to exist. They are thought to have hunted larger prey by attacking in packs, walking and running on their just their hind legs. Their name means ‘hollow form’ because of the hollow bones which made up their structure. This would have made them lighter and therefore more agile when hunting. They would have been small compared to other animals from that period and relying on their speed and agility to catch prey and escape their large predators. Their sharp teeth and claws would have helped them to keep a tight hold on their prey which would have consisted of insects and small reptiles such a lizards and young crocodiles but also carrion. Often Coelophysis skeletons are discovered in groups, supporting the theories which suggest that they lived or hunted in packs.