The Online Library of Knowledge

Dinosaur species


CoelophysisCoelophysis Coelophysis was a theropod from Triassic North America. It had a narrow head, shaped like a stork’s, with a long curved neck. Its body was slim and compact, with long legs and three-toed, bird-like feet. Its short arms had three-fingered clawed hands. Coelophysis's long tail (half its length) was used to balance the rest of its body. Coelophysis was as long as a small car but, because its bones were hollow, it was as light as an eight-year-old child.


A pack of Coelophysis on the moveA pack of Coelophysis on the moveCoelophysis may have been a ferocious pack-hunter, with several of them surrounding and ambushing their prey. Rushing at its victim, Coelophysis would catch its prey in its jaws with a sudden, jabbing motion of the head. It could swallow smaller prey whole. When tackling larger prey, it would hold it down with its claws while tearing it apart with its teeth.

Fossil finds

Coelophysis's fossil skeletonCoelophysis's fossil skeletonPalaeontologists excavating a site at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, found many skeletons of different sizes belonging to Coelophysis in the same place. The dinosaurs may have lived as a group and probably died in a flash flood.

Two of the adult skeletons had tiny skeletons apparently inside them, leading to suggestions that Coelophysis was a cannibal. New studies show that what were previously thought to be baby Coelophysis were, in fact, small crocodiles crushed underneath the larger dinosaurs.


The name Coelophysis means “hollow form”, after its hollow bones.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile