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Compsognathus

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Compsognathus

Conservation status: Fossil

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Archosauria
Superorder:Dinosauria
Order:Saurischia
(unranked)Theropoda
Suborder:Tetanurae
Family:Compsognathidae
Genus:Compsognathus

Compsognathus (komp-sog-NAY-thus) lived in Late Jurassic of Germany, France and perhaps Portugal. Though traditionally touted as the smallest dinosaur, several others are now known to have been smaller (e.g. Microraptor, Parvicursor, and Caenagnathasia).

Compsognathus is known from two nearly complete skeletons: one from Germany that is 2.9 feet long (1.3 pounds), and another from France that is 4.1 feet (5.5 pounds). Teeth from Portugal have also been assigned to the genus. Although the French specimen was originally described as a separate species (Compsognathus corallestris), both it and the German specimen are now thought to be Compsognathus longipes. A partial foot has also been referred to Compsognathus, but this has subsequently been disproven.

Compsognathus may have had only two fingers, since no bones of a third finger have been found. However, the hands are disarticulated, so this is still uncertain. It appears that Compsognathus preyed on small vertebrates, since remains of the lizard Bavariasaurus have been found in its thoracic cavity.

For many years, Compsognathus was the only well known small theropod, and was thus compared to Archaeopteryx as a dinosaurian ancestor or relative of birds. We now know that many other kinds of dinosaurs were more closely related to birds, including segnosaurus, oviraptorosaurus and deinonychosaurus. It is often argued that Compsognathus lacked feathers, because none are preserved with either skeleton, while Archaeopteryx, which was found in the same sediments, always preserves feathers. However, the only feathers always preserved on Archaeopteryx are the large ones on the wings and tail. The short feathers which cover the body are rarely preserved. Compsognathus' relative, Sinosauropteryx only has the short kinds of feathers, so it's possible Compsognathus was feathered too.de:Compsognathus pt:Compsognato

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