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Coelophysis bauri  (Edward Cope 1889)

Name Means: "Hollow Form" Length: 10 feet
Pronounced: SEE-low-FIE-sis Weight: 50 pounds
When it lived: Late Triassic, 220 million years ago    
Where found:      


    A small tyrannosaur?  Yep.  Carnivores come in all size.  This little fellow was only about ten feet long and three feet tall and weighed only 50 pounds. It walked upright on its strong birdlike hind legs.  Its front limbs ended in three clawed fingers that could grab and tear prey.  Its jaws containing 100 small, sharp teeth. It probably ate lizards, amphibians, and even other small dinosaurs. Its lineage gave rise to the dinosaurs still living today -- the birds.
    Because of its small size, Coelophysis probably traveled and hunted in herds. It was a small, agile predator and was seen running very convincingly all over the TV screen in "Walking With Dinosaurs."  A Coelophysis skull from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was flown into space by the space shuttle Endeavor on January 22, 1998. It traveled to the space station Mir. It was not the first dinosaur in space. 
Maisaura became an astronaut almost three years earlier.
   It one of the most well-known and extensively studied tyrannosaurs.  This is due to the wealth of fossil material. Several hundred Coelophysis fossil skeletons have been found in Arizona, New Mexico, and perhaps Utah. The quarry at Ghost Ranch, near
Albuquerque, New Mexico has yielded dozen of specimens. 
     It lived during the Late Triassic Period, about 210 million years ago, at a time when northern New Mexico was an arid, lowland environment. Periodic monsoonal rains interrupted the dry conditions, producing flash floods that swept across the land. One of these flash floods may have drowned an entire herd of Coelophysis, causing the great concentration of bones that is found at Ghost Ranch. 
    Both adults and juveniles have been found. There are two types of adults, "robust" and "gracile" - these two morphs may represent males and females. Coelophysis have been found with small Coelophysis bones inside of them.  Some authorities believe that they may have eaten their young; others think that they may have been pregnant females.  However, it is generally believed that Coelophysis laid eggs.     


     Coelophysis was discovered in 1881 by David Baldwin. It was named by US paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope in 1889. The type species is Coelophysis bauri (named by Cope and Colbert in 1964). There is some confusion about the naming of this genus arising from the fragmentary nature of the type specimen.  At one time these dinosaurs were called Rioarribasaurus, but this name was later dropped.  After a campaign by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Coelophysis became New Mexico's state fossil on March 17, 1981.


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