Compsognathid theropods are small. It’s kind of a default setting for them really. While obviously both juveniles neither the original Compsognathus nor Juravenator top out even close to 1 m in length and one would not really expect them to get much bigger. The second Compsognathus specimen was around a metre long it’s true, though that hardly makes it large compared to even other small theropods (like troodontids and dromaeosaurs) and Sinosauropteryx is pretty tiny as well. Finally we have the rather larger Huaxiagnathus but at only around 1.5 m, one could hardly call this big.
It was then quite a surprise in 2007 when a ‘giant’ compsognathid was described in Sinocalliopteryx. This animal is nearly 2.5 m long making it considerably larger than other known taxa, though of course still small by theropod standards (though big enough to hunt and consume other theropods – part of a dromaeosaur is preserved in the stomach). Shown here is a cast on display in Jinzhou, which sadly does not really convey much of the detail of the original specimen. The colour is rather different and the well preserved protofeathers on the neck and tail are not reproduced.
Overall this is a little known and less illustrated theropod and given the endless interest in feathered dinosaurs seemed too good an opportunity to miss. It’s a shame that neither the cast nor my photos aren’t better but there is little out there online so this will at least add a mediocre entry to this small canon.
Share this Post