Fun Facts about Coelophysis

Coelophysis was one of the first dinosaur genera, existing between 190 and 225 million years ago during the Late Triassic Period. Coelophysis was a bipedal carnivore that grew up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length and was a small, slenderly constructed ground dweller.

Coelophysis bauri skeleton at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. (photo source: wikipedia)

Coelophysis was a short-legged hunter. This dinosaur ate crocodile-like creatures, according to fossil evidence. Coelophysis was a member of theropods, a group of dinosaurs that ate mostly meat. It walked on its hind legs, like most dinosaurs in its group. Continue reading to learn more facts about the Coelophysis dinosaur genus.

1: Coelophysis quick facts:

Name: Coelophysis (Greek for “hollow form”); pronounced seel-OH-fie-sis
When it lived: Late Triassic, 225-190 million years ago
Type of dinosaur: Small Theropod
Location: USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe
Habitat: Floodplains and dry deserts with access to open areas, water, and a small amount of forest.
Length/Weight: 2 meters/27kg
Diet: Carnivorous
Distinguishing Characteristics: Narrow hips, forelimbs specialised for prey gripping, and small feet.
Named by: Edward Drinker Cope (1889)

2: What does the name Coelophysis mean?

Coelophysis bauri head. (photo source: wikipedia)

Coelophysis is derived from two Greek words: koilos, which means hollow, and physis, which means form. Thus, Coelophysis refers to the dinosaur’s hollow bones.

3: How do you pronounce ‘Coelophysis’?

The pronunciation of Coelophysis is ‘seel-OH-fie-sis.’

4: What is the nickname of Coelophysis?

The nickname of Coelophysis is “hollow form,” referring to the animal’s hollow limbs. Coelophysis, which lived in the Late Triassic period when dinosaurs were not yet at the top of the food chain, would have used its quickness to dodge larger predators and catch its meal quickly.

5: What did Coelophysis eat?

Coelophysis and other early meat-eating dinosaurs used their speed and agility to catch insects and small reptiles. Coelophysis’ keen jaws and grabbing claws would have assisted them in grasping and killing their prey. Fish and tiny reptiles were prey for Coelophysis. The presence of Coelophysis bones in the dinosaur’s preserved gut implies it was a cannibal that preyed on its own kind.

6: Who discovered Coelophysis?

David Baldwin, an amateur fossil collector working for Edward Drinker Cope, discovered the first dinosaur remains in the Chinle Formation in northwestern New Mexico in 1881. Cope named them C. longicollis and C. bauri, two new species of the previously described genus Coelurus (Cope, 1887a). Cope (1887b) later placed the species to Tanystrophaeus and identified a third species, T. willistoni, in a paper published later that year.

Edward Drinker Cope. (photo source: wikipedia)

Cope (1889) altered his mind again, giving the three species the name Coelophysis (“hollow form,” in allusion to the hollow bones of the fossils Baldwin had collected). Coelophysis bauri was named the type species of the genus by Hay (1930), and Von Huene (1911, 1915) was the first to show the fossils of Coelophysis Baldwin had collected.

7: When was Coelophysis first discovered and by whom was it named Coelophysis?

In 1881, the first Coelophysis fossils were discovered in Upper Triassic layers at Chinle Formation sites in northeastern New Mexico. Edward Drinker Cope, a distinguished American palaeontologist, identified and described this dinosaur in 1889.

8: Where was Coelophysis found?

Edwin Colber and George Whitaker discovered a virtual graveyard in the Chama River valley in northern New Mexico in 1947. Hundreds of Coelophysis specimens, including many entire skeletons, were discovered.

Coelophysis Quarry of Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. (photo source: wikipedia)

Water was rare during the Triassic period due to the hot and dry climate, thus this find was most likely a big herd of Coelophysis that had gathered near a drying waterhole in an attempt to obtain water. They were most likely exposed to a flash flood before or after death, which would have buried them. The Coelophysis has become one of the most well-known dinosaurs as a result of its discovery.

9: When was the Coelophysis alive?

Coelophysis (genus Coelophysis), a genus of small carnivorous dinosaurs discovered as fossils in North America during the Late Triassic period, 225–190 million years ago, as some of the earliest dinosaurs. It is thought to be one of the first dinosaur species to have evolved.

10: What kind of climate did Coelophysis inhabit?

Given the time period in which the Coelophysis dinosaurs lived, it is reasonable to assume that their habitat was seasonally dry, desert-like, and savannah-like. Because flowering plants did not evolve until much later in the Cretaceous Period, the ecosystem may be compared to modern-day Kenya, but without the grasses. These dinosaurs lived in floodplains with different wet and dry seasons, according to a research by Therrien and Fastovsky (2001).

11: What was Coelophysis’s height and weight?

Coelophysis was about 6.6 feet (2 metres) long, weighed just 18–27 kg (40–60 pounds), and came in two forms: robust and gracile, which likely represented males and females, respectively.

Size of Coelophysis. bauri compared to a human. (photo source: wikipedia)

From a human perspective, the Coelophysis was almost the same size as an ostrich. It was small and had a long, slender neck, a tail, and hind legs. The jaws were filled with sharp fangs, and the cranium was long and thin.

12: How many eggs did Coelophysis lay?

Coelophysis was most likely a laying egg species. The Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, USA, discovered thousands of fossilised Coelophysis skeletons. The bones of young Coelophysis could be found in the abdomens of several of them. Rinehart et al. compared the anatomy of Coelophysis to a database of numerous reptiles and birds and found that the dinosaur lay eggs that were roughly 31–33.5 millimeters in diameter.

A single clutch of 24-26 eggs would be laid by a female Coelophysis. Evidence reveals that the dinosaur put enough effort into reproduction and even looked after the hatchlings throughout their first year.

13: What was Coelophysis known for?


Coelophysis was one of the first dinosaurs to walk the Earth. It was a small yet excellent hunter who lived approximately 200 million years ago during the Late Triassic Period. Coelophysis was also one of the first therapods, a group of two-legged, primarily carnivorous dinosaurs that included hunters such as the Tyrannosaurus rex. Coelophysis was, of course, considerably smaller than T. rex, but it was also likely more faster.

14: How did Coelophysis go extinct?

Water was scarce during the Triassic period due to the hot and dry climate, thus most likely a big herd of Coelophysis that had gathered near a drying waterhole in an attempt to obtain water. They were most likely exposed to a flash flood before or after death, which would have buried them.

15: How many teeth does a Coelophysis have?

Coelophysis had teeth like those of other predatory dinosaurs: they were blade-like, curved, sharp, jagged, and had small serrations on both the front and back edges. Its teeth show that it was a carnivore, and the small lizard-like animals that were found with it suggest that it ate them.

It may have also hunted in groups to take on bigger animals. Coelophysis bauri has about 26 teeth on the upper jaw bone (maxillary) and 27 teeth on the lower jaw bone (dentary).

16: How did Coelophysis walk?

Coelophysis, like all Theropods, was bipedal and moved by using its long back legs. This dinosaur’s forelimbs were longer than T- Rex’s, but they were still not long enough to facilitate quadrupedal walking.The back legs of Coelophysis were powerful and agile. It had three long toes and one short toe, and it could leap away from larger predators. Coelophysis’ front legs were small and were most likely not utilised for walking. They were most likely employed to harvest food.

Coelophysis. (photo source: wikipedia)

Coelophysis has a huge head with a pointed nose and large eyes. Coelophysis was a master of ambush. Perhaps a fish-eater, it appears that this 100-pound predator lived beside streams, moving among ferns and horsetails, always on the lookout for predators. It also ate insects, lizard-like reptiles, and other small dinosaurs.

17: What are the Coelophysis predators?

Coelophysis was a carnivore, but because of its small size, it was not the dominant predator in its habitat. Postosuchus, Smilosuchus, and semi-aquatic Phytosaurs, according to researchers, would have preyed on Coelophysis. Both on land and in the water, these enemies ruled the Triassic landscape.

18: How fast can Coelophysis run?

Coelophysis was a fast-moving predator with hollow bones and long, slender legs. Researchers estimate a stride length of 2.5 feet based on its estimated body mass and measurements from a whole specimen. Although the feet of this smaller dinosaur were just four inches long, it is thought that this Theropod had a top speed of 25 to 30 miles per hour.

19: Why is the finding of Coelophysis significant?

For a variety of reasons, Coelophysis is a noteworthy paleontological discovery. One of the most interesting things about this species is that it helps scientists figure out how the Theropods changed over time, from the first ones to the more famous Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Coelophysis is also one of the first known carnivorous dinosaurs, making it an intriguing animal to study in general. At New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch, a Coelophysis “graveyard” was uncovered in 1947, and these well-preserved Coelophysis specimens let scientists learn more about this early dinosaur.

20: Other interesting Coelophysis facts:

  • On January 22, 1998, a Coelophysis skull from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was launched into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavour mission STS-89. Coelophysis was the second dinosaur in space after Maiasaura.
  • The Coelophysis was formally designated as New Mexico’s state fossil in 1981.
  • Coelophysis is the ancestor of several dinosaurs, including all Dilophosaurs, Oviraptors, Ornithomimids, and the well-known “raptor” family, which includes Velociraptor, Utahraptor, and Deinonychus.

Sources:Wikipedia, Research Gate

Written by James

James has always been intrigued by dinosaurs, the universe, technology, and animals. With a Bachelor of Computer Science and years of writing expertise, he joined World Amazing Facts in 2021 as a staff writer.

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