Coelophysys in Greek means “hollow bones”, it was given this name because the bones of its legs were really hollow… Only one species of this Cellophysid Theropod is known, the Coelophysis Bauri lived in the Triassic period about 215 million years ago. Lived mostly in North America. It was a relatively small dinosaur, it could measure up to 3 meters long, a meter tall and weigh up to 30 kilos, experts consider it thin and very agile so it is known as a very good runner. His remains have been found mainly in Arizona and New Mexico.
It was one of the first known dinosaurs, not as old as others but very old, this is known because the shape of its body is already very similar to known dinosaurs. His tail helped him run extremely fast and functioned practically like a rudder. To their characteristics we can add that they had large eyes and long, flexible necks that allowed them to move relatively quickly. His head was flat and elongated and had small, sharp teeth.
What we can say is that there are many remains of this peculiar dinosaur, so many that at some point the ones found in Ghost Ranch were to be carefully classified so as not to confuse them with each other. It was discovered by David Baldwin in 1881, but its name and description is due to the paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope in 1889. The first fossils that were found were not in very good condition so at first they were not very sure what it looked like physically.
Later, many more specimens were found, in fact thousands of fossils of Coelophysis were found, it is in fact the largest collection of fossils of the same species found in one place, precisely Ghost Ranch New Mexico. It was then in 1947 that Coelophysis could be fully described. It is believed that because they were all found together in the same place they could have died at the same time, the most accepted theory is that they died in a flood. Edwin H. Colvert was the one who did the most work on the process of reviewing all the fossils and it is thanks to him that we know much more about this dinosaur.
The snout of the Coelophysis was long and its mouth had curved teeth with sharp edges, this shows that it was a carnivore, probably eating small animals like reptiles. The most interesting thing, especially because of the large number of remains found together, is that it is believed that they lived in herds, so that all together they could surely hunt larger animals and share them. By the shape of his neck it is known that his bite had great speed so he could be a pretty efficient hunter. It is also believed that because of its size and lightness as well as its agility, it may have even eaten flying insects.
A particular feature is that for a long period of time it was thought to be cannibal, that is to say that they ate each other, this because in the stomach of some of the skeletons younger bones of Coelophysis were found. But this theory was dismissed by Rob Gay who thinks it was a misinterpretation and that the bones belong more to other Coelophysis-like reptiles. This theory was revised in 2006 and the evidence was inconclusive, it is believed that more studies are needed to truly rule out the theory of cannibalism.
Another of their particular characteristics was their speed, we could say that they were as agile as the cats of today and had excellent eyesight, which made it possible to track almost anything. Especially if we take into account that his skeleton was very light in some cases as his legs had hollow bones and in other cases had holes that allowed him to lighten a lot.
If you’re looking for the Coelophysis you must look in space, in 1998 its skull was sent in the Endeavour Shuttle traveling 6 million kilometers around the earth, it’s the first astronaut dinosaur. The purpose of his trip into space was of course to study it and get to know it better in a totally different environment than he is used to. You can also find it in Walking with Dinosaurs and in the Jurassic Park series.