The Compsognathus was a carnivorous theropod dinosaur that lived in Germany and France during the Late Jurassic Period. This dinosaur belonged to the family Compsognathidae, which comprises other small carnivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Key facts

Compsognathus pronunciationThe name of this dinosaur can be pronounced as “Komp-sog-NATH-us”.
What does Compsognathus mean?The name Compsognathus was derived from the two Greek words, kompsos/κομψος, which means ‘refined’, ‘pretty’, ‘elegant’ and gnathos/γναθος, which means ‘jaw’.
Dinosaur typeTheropod
On the menuCarnivore
Length1 meter (3.3 ft)
Height30 cm (12 inches)
Weight0.83-3.5 kg (1.8-7 .7 lbs)
Life expectancyBecause of the theory that large dinosaurs lived much longer compared to that smaller dinosaurs, it was believed that the Compsognathus may have only lived up to 5-10 years.
Legs used to get aroundThe Compsognathus was bipedal and used its hind legs most of the time.
Estimated top speedDue to the Compsognathus’s small structure but strong hind legs, this dinosaur was discovered to have reached a speed of 25 mph or 40 kph.
When they livedThe Compsognathus lived during the Late Jurassic about 145-140 million years ago.
Where they have been found?The fossils of the Compsognathus were found in Germany, Portugal, and France.

When & Where

During the late 1850s, the first almost-complete dinosaur fossil was found by Dr. Oberndorfer in the lithographic limestone structures located in Solnhofen, Bavaria. Later on, in 1859, this fossil was described and studied by Johann A. Wagner. The second specimen was later on found in France.

Size & Weight

The Compsognathus only grew about 30 cm in height, which is the same height as most chickens, reached a length of about 1 meter, and only weighed about 0.8 kg to 3.5 kg. 

Mobility & Diet

Being considered as one of the smallest dinosaurs, the Compsognathus has only eaten smaller reptiles and vertebrates. Its hind legs as well as its long tail has helped this dinosaur chase off prey and feed off them. 

Interesting Points

  • The Compsognathus lived from 157.3 million years ago to the Tithonian Age.
  • Consisted of a body mass that reached approximately 2.5 kg.
  • Ate insects most of the time.
  • Just like most dinosaurs, the Compsognathus reproduced by laying eggs.
  • As of the time, there were only 4 specimens that have been discovered by paleontologists.
  • This dinosaur was believed to have lived in a terrestrial environment.
  • The interesting point about the Compsognathus was that it was then once considered the smallest dinosaur to have ever been found but now, the smallest dinosaur has been presented to Oculudentavis, which was discovered inside a drop of amber.