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Coelophysis was a small, nimble dinosaur from the Triassic period featured in the Zoo Tycoon expansion, Dinosaur Digs. Its skin is a dark green color, and lives in small packs. Its main biome is tropical rainforest. Although it was not featured in ZT2 there are some user-made ones, most notably hendrix's one from the Walking With Dinosaurs pack.

Description

Official description: "Coelophysis, or "hollow form," was one of the earliest dinosaurs, having first appeared in what is now the southwestern United States around 220 million years ago. With its lightweight, hollow bones Coelophysis is a predator built for agility and speed. Hunting in packs, Coelophysis will make a meal of any small creature unfortunate enough to get in their path--including immature members of their own species. Never staying still for long, Coelophysis is positively hyperactive compared to some of the big, lumbering, herbivorous dinosaurs. It is constantly on the lookout for the next meal, head swiveling around atop its thin neck. The three sharp claws at the end of Coelophysis short forelimbs and longer hind limbs can seem to almost twitch with nervous energy at times. Coelophysis is always ready to pounce should it spot something it can eat, even if that something is a young relative."[N1]

Coelophysis is one of the earliest known dinosaurs, having evolved in the Late Triassic period, around 210 million years ago, from around the late Carnian to early Norian times. It had a spindly, delicate build and would have been "only" about three metres long. However, its long stiff tail and S-shaped neck accounted for most of this length so it probably weighed no more than 30 kg. Coelophysis was also among the earliest dinosaurs to have bone hollows to save weight, like the later sauropods. Despite looking hardly dissimilar to the ancestors of the dinosaur, the thecodonts, Coelophysis nevertheless bore the defining mark of the dinosaurs - legs placed underneath the body rather than out to the sides.

The skull, while long, was very light since it was full of holes to save weight, and was perched on the end of a long and slender neck that had a very flexible bone structure. The minimised skull is a feature seen in all later dinosaurs. Coelophysis had many serrated teeth, for eating any number of small animals. It was once thought there was evidence of canibilism, but these examples are actually of Coelophysis eating Crocodiliomorphs. Coelophysis was also probably not above scavenging. The teeth were larger in the upper jaw and curved backwards, and the muscle arrangement in the jaw was such that the upper and lower jaws could grind against one another - like an electric carving knife. Coelophysis would in fact have been a fast mover, being light, long-legged and with a stride length of around 75 cm, and could have moved through the upland forests and open plains of Triassic North America with ease.

Each hand had four fingers, but one was too small to be functional. It seems Coelophysis was a transition between the redundant fingers of earlier dinosaurs such as the five-fingered Staurikosaurus and later theropods which had only two or three. The three-toed feet were around four inches long, and left impressions similar in shape to those of modern birds, and indeed some preserved tracks had formerly been thought to belong to ancient birds.

Two different forms of Coelophysis have been found, a more graceful form and those of a slightly more robust build. Originally, these were thought to be different species within the genus Coelophysis, but opinion among paleontologists is now that these were female and male varients - in fact, many other dinosaurs formerly considered distinct species are now being reclassified in this fashion.

Incidentally, Coelophysis was the second dinosaur fossil in space. Although Maiasaura had been taken into space three years earlier, a skull of Coelophysis from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was aboard the space shuttle Endeavour when it left the atmosphere on 22nd January, 1998. It was also taken onto the Space Station Mir before being returned to Earth.

[N1] - This paragraph contains outdated and inaccurate information.

Media

In Real Life

Zoo Tycoon animals

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