Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Superorder Dinosauria
Order Saurischia
Suborder Theropoda
Superfamily Coelophysoidea
Family Coelophysidae
Subfamily Coelophysinae
Genus Coelophysis
1st Species Coelophysis bauri
2nd Species Coelophysis sp.
Other attributes
Time Range 214-201 mya
Location United States of America
Name Meaning Hollow form
Physical Dimensions 3.3 meters long for C.bauri
Weight 44.9 kilograms for C.bauri
Dietary Classification Carnivore
Coelophysis is a coelophysid theropod dinosaur from the Late Triassic of the United States of America. It was officially named in 1887 by Edward Drinker Cope. It was one of the most successful early theropods (persisting up to the Jurassic), and is often hailed as the mother of theropods, due to having anatomical traits that would carry on as theropods evolved.


Coelophysis was a small theropod with a slender body, a long tail, long arms with three fingers on each hand, a moderately long neck, and a long, conical head with large jaws. Most of its body would have been covered in short, fuzz-like feathers.


Coelophysis was a predator, preying on small crocodylomorphs, small cynodonts, pterosaurs, fish, and smaller theropods. Its teeth had knife-like serrations from front to back, and were used to cut into the hides of large prey.


Coelophysis had skeletal features that would carry on further in theropod evolution, such as a bipedal stance, erect legs, relatively small arms, a long tail, a curved neck, and a mouth filled with serrated teeth. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't an exceptionally fast runner due to its leg proportions; however, this didn't matter, as it was able to catch up with most of its prey items. Due to large quarries containing many individuals, people may regularly assume that Coelophysis hunted in packs; however, while pack-hunting is suitable for almost any carnivorous theropod, it doesn't apply to these scenarios, with possible alternate explanations being that the theropods congregated in order to drink the last drops of a shrunken river or to feed on a migrating school of fish before getting killed by a flash flood. A comparison of its sclerotic rings to those of modern reptiles and birds indicates that it was diurnal.

In popular cultureEdit

Coelophysis was introduced to the public in the 1974 adaptation of Land of the Lost. Since then, it has been featured in many books focusing prehistoric animals, with an occasional movie appearance. So far, its biggest public appearance was in the first episode of the 1999 documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, where the popular Triassic species, Coelophysis bauri, was shown as an extremely versatile theropod that could survive harsh droughts (along with the Thrinaxodon); as well as this, it was mentioned to be a somewhat successful reptile that would give way to the appearance to larger, more advanced theropods.

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