Temporal range: Late Jurassic
Compy art
3D reconstruction of C. longipes by Joanna Kobierska
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Genus: Compsognathus
Wagner, 1859
Species: C. longipes
Binomial name
Compsognathus longipes
Wagner, 1859

Compsognathus ( Greek kompsós/κομψός "elegant", "refine" or "dainty" and gnáthos/γνάθος "jaw") was a genus of small theropod carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic Period, around 150 million years ago in Europe. Its streamlined body shape allowed it to run swiftly. Only two specimens have been found. Teeth discovered in Portugal may be further fossil remains of the genus.

Compsognathus skeleton

Compsognathus Skeleton


Compsognathus' pointed head was only three inches long. The tail was longer than the head, neck, and body put together. Many presentations still describe Compsognathus as a "chicken-sized" dinosaur because of the small size of the German specimen, which is now believed to be a juvenile form of the larger French specimen, and actually grew to be the size of a turkey.

Discovery and species[]


The diet is known with certainty: the remains of small, agile lizards are preserved in the bellies of both specimens. It most likely lived alongside different species of stegosaurs, sauropods, and was also probably prey to the large carnivore Megalosaurus.


Although not recognized as such at the time of its discovery, Compsognathus is the first dinosaur known from a reasonably complete skeleton. Until the 1980s and 1990s, Compsognathus was the smallest known dinosaur and the closest supposed relative of the early bird Archaeopteryx. For nearly a century, Compsognathus was the only well-known small theropod. This led to comparisons with Archaeopteryx and to suggestions of a relationship with birds. The two theropods share many similarities in shape, size and proportions, so many in fact that a featherless skeleton of an Archaeopteryx was for many years misidentified as a Compsognathus.

Skin Texture[]

Because some relatives to Compsognathus (Most notably Sinosauropteryx and Sinocalliopteryx) have been known to been preserved with the remains of fur-like feathers, scientists have suggested that Compsognathus would have had similar feathers. Despite this (and numerous depictions of the dinosaur portraying it as having a coat of proto-feathers), there is no evidence that Compsognathus had such integument. Unlike the contemporary Archaeopteryx, which has been known to preserve feathers, no fossil of Compsognathus has preserved feathers alongside it. While scale impressions were said to have been discovered by Von Huene in 1901, they were simply identified as corpse wax in 2012.

In 2006, Karin Peyer discovered skin impressions on the side of the dinosaur's tail. The skin was said to have bumpy turbercles like those found on the tail and hind legs of Juravenator. As a result, it is possible that feathers were not omnipresent in this group of dinosaurs.

In popular culture[]

  • Compsongnathus had a fairly large role in the movie, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, where it's shown to have hunted in large packs, capable of taking down prey much larger than themselves, and even swarmed and killed one of the poachers. However, this theory was eventually proven false.
  • Compsognathus appeared in Jurassic Park III, where two Compys running through the forest while T-Rex and Spinosaurus fight each other, and a whole group was seen chasing bugs while Eric and Alan are hiding in the abandoned truck.
  • In the cartoon show, Dink, the Little Dinosaur, one of the main characters, a hungry little dinosaur named Scat, was a Compsognathus.
    JP Compy

    Compsognathus in The Lost World: Jurassic Park

  • Compsognathus is also a playable character in the online game, Primal Carnage.
  • Compsognathus (shortened to 'Compy') appear in the video game ARK: Survival Evolved, shown as attacking other animals in packs.
  • In the first, The Land Before Time one was scared by a Hopper (frog).

    The Land Before Time Compsognathus

  • In the tenth movie of The Land Before Time during Cera's sleep story (Dream) Compsognathus appeared and even got Sharpteeths but likes Littlefoot.
  • Compsognathus appeared in the video game called Jurassic Park: The Game.
  • In the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom it shows that some Compies are present on Isla Nublar, as they are seen running away alongside the other dinosaurs from the erupting volcano.
  • Compsognathus is confirmed for Jurassic World: Evolution via the Return to Jurassic Park DLC.
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    Dino Dan/Dana

    Compsognathus appears in Dino Dan, Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures & Dino Dana as a Scavenger, Egg-Eater, and All-Time Mischief-Maker.