The Coelophysis was a small theropod that lived in the present-day southwestern United States in North America. This genus of dinosaurs was a part of the family, Coelophysidae, which also includes other carnivorous theropod dinosaurs during the Upper Triassic to the Lower Jurassic Period.

Key facts

Coelophysis pronunciationThe Coelophysis can be pronounced as “seel-OH-fie-sis”.
What does Coelophysis mean?The dinosaur’s name was derived from two Greek words κοῖλος/koilos (meaning ‘hollow’) and φύσις/physis (meaning ‘form’) and when put together, the name Coelophysis means hollow form, this is because this dinosaur has hollow vertebrae.
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivore
Length3 meter (10 feet)
Height1.3 meters (4 feet)
Weight15-20 kilograms (33-44 lbs)
Life expectancyThe life expectancy of Coelophysis is still unknown as there is not enough evidence to prove how long they have lived.
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speedThe estimated top speed of a Coelophysis is 25 miles per hour or 40.23 kilometers per hour.
When they livedThis theropod was known to have lived during the Late Triassic Period, about 225-190 million years ago.
Where they have been found?Their fossils were discovered in Abiquiu, located in New Mexico.

When & Where

In 1947, a massive fossil of a Coelophysis group was found in the Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, in New Mexico. The fossils that were discovered in this were found to have been washed away by a flash flood, which is a common occurrence during the Late Triassic Period. It has also been concluded that the fossils deposited in the area were well-preserved.

Size & Weight

According to studies, the Coelophysis was one of the earliest dinosaurs and have been concluded that they can get fairly large for a dinosaur. Their heights can reach up to 1.3 meters (4 feet), with length reaching up to  3 meters (10 feet) and can weigh about up to 15-20 kilograms (33-44 lbs). 

Mobility & Diet

Just like other theropods, the Coelophysis was a carnivore. They were considered predatory dinosaurs and have been believed to have fed on smaller reptiles as well as early relatives of different mammals.

Interesting Points

  • This genus existed from Upper Triassic Epoch to 182.7 million years ago.
  • Compared to other theropods, this dinosaur had a body mass of approximately 15.3 kg.
  • Thrived in a terrestrial environment.
  • Just like most dinosaurs, they reproduced by laying eggs.
  • Was a carnivore.
  • 38 different specimens have been found by paleontologists.
  • Aside from being an example of an early dinosaur, the Coelophysis was also one of the first dinosaurs that had a wishbone. Its skull was also the first fossil to be taken to space in 1998 when the Space Shuttle “Endeavor” delivered a specimen from the Carnegie Museum to the Mir Space Station.