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Origin of coelophysis

It was in 1842 that the English researcher Richard Owen first used the term dinosaurus from which it is possible to trace the origin of the term dinosaur which is used in vogue. It is interesting to note that while the term dinosaurs nitially referred to a particular variety Saurian reptiles which were found in different parts of the world and in England, it has drawn considerably from its Greek roots as well. Hence, in Greek, the root dinosaurs means something dreadful and formidable while the term dinosaurs commonly refers to reptiles or lizards.

The dinosaurs were in most cases enormous and fearsome creatures, comprising of both herbivores and carnivores and lived on the surface of the earth some 230 million years ago. There existed several variants of dinosaurs of which none remain though certain characteristics found in birds go to prove considerably that these dinosaurs have been their predecessors. In the contemporary world, there is a lot of research work going on with reference to dinosaurs and there are innumerable scientists and paleontologists dedicated to the cause of unearthing more and more information from studying the various remains and fossils of dinosaurs.

Most of their remains have been discovered from New Mexico and most of these fossils belong to the mid Triassic period to which they belonged about 228 million years ago

It is known that there are various different kinds of dinosaurs which have been classified accordingly and one of the earliest dinosaurs believed to have wandered on the earth is the coelophysis. Here it must be pointed out that the very first specimens of the coelophysis was first discovered in 1881 by David Baldwin and was named Baur. However, this fossil was not adequate enough to give scholars a clear idea regarding a new dinosaur species.

While researchers continued to work on it, it was in 1947 that a huge grave of coelophysis fossils were unearthed in the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. It can be pointed out here that the very first evidence of the coelophysis was also recovered from a region adjacent to the Ghost Ranch in 1881. Such a huge mass of collected dinosaur fossils were excavated for the first time ever and it is usually presumed that these dinosaurs were swept away at the same time as a result of some natural hazard like a flash flood and buried instantly.

The name coelophysis has a special significance and in that case, it would be necessary to go back to the roots from which the name originated. The term owes it origin to Greek source where dinosaurs refers to something hollow while dinosaurs simply refers to form or structure. The coelophysis, which are one of the first dinosaurs on the earth, therefore are named so because of their hollow bone structure. These were smaller dinosaurs and flash eaters i.e. carnivores.



The coelophysis has been initially considered to belong to a single species, that of the coelophysis bauri. However, there are two other kinds which have been recently added as a variant of this type, namely the C. willistoni and C. longicollis which are known to have no other similarities except that they all belong to similar genetic structures.

The most interesting section of the body of the coelophysis was their vertebra which was arranged in a unique position by means of interconnecting sections of it so that it prevented the long tail from constantly moving up and down.

Physical Features

In terms of physical structure, it should be noted that the coelophysis bauri, which was one of the earliest specimens discovered of this kind, stated that they were only about two or three meters in length. They were so named because of the hollow bones which constituted the limbs and it is interesting to note that despite being a theropod, there are several features which were found in the coelophysis and were considered to be first of its kind in dinosaurs.

Being one of the earliest dinosaurs, the coelophysis was significantly different in structure from other theropods and early dinosaurs like the eoraptor and the herrersaurus. The skull of the coelophysis was long and ended with an elongated snout protruding outwards and its curvaceous neck used to be a mandatory feature. The forelimbs possessed four digits of which four where suitable for functioning while the hind limbs consisted of three toes.

This is one of the reasons which might have allowed the coelophysis to commute swiftly. But, apart from this, there are several other causes which might have facilitated their fast movement like for example their slender body together with its long neck and tail.

Behavioral patterns and hunting

Most of the information regarding the life and times of the coelophysis has been obtained from the fossil specimens that have been discovered from the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. The coelophysis were carnivores and lived mainly on smaller lizard-like animals and reptiles whose flesh could be torn easily with their sharp teeth. Since these dinosaurs were more like scavengers and pounced on their prey, their edged and jagged teeth played a vital role in hunting down the victim.

These teeth were severely sharpened on both edges and therefore greatly aided the animal in hunting down their quarry. Like most variants of dinosaurs, the teeth of the coelophysis were also replaced throughout its lifetime constantly. It had been pointed out by several researchers in the initial stages that the coelophysis displayed cannibalistic traits and this claim was further supported by the fact that the study of the abdominal cavity of some of the fossil specimens proved so. However, such claims have been rubbished recently by various scientists who have provided evidence to show that those specimens did not refer to coelophysis themselves but rather to a variety of crutotarsan reptiles.

Upon a through study of the coelophysis fossils thus excavated, it has been revealed that while some where quite healthy in structure, the others were a bit weak and fragile. It is usually believed that this variance in structure refers to the male and female types of this dinosaur.

In terms of behavioral characteristic, very little information is available on this issue. It is true that a huge mass of coelophysis fossils were unearthed at the same time from the Ghost Ranch and this availability of so many fossils together has often led many to believe that the coelophysis usually moved together in groups.

However, it is necessary to clarify here that such evidences definitely do not provide veracity to this statement. It is only possible that a lot of coelophysis may have accumulated by a water source to drink and in course where swept away by a flash flood.

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