STL Science Center

STL Science Center

26 June 2015

Not A Crocodile

In 1993 the movie Jurassic Park was in theaters and the stars were being unveiled. Michael Crichton had created a star-studded cast for his novel and that left the movie with a great list of characters to choose from. Not all of the dinosaurs could make the cut, of course, and some were eventually replaced or left out entirely. One of those characters that was ignored and omitted was the small dinosaur Procomsognathus ("Before the elegant jaw" referring to its pre- Compsognathus time frame of existence). Living in the earliest Triassic, Proconpsognathus triassicus was a very small dinosaur and was used, by Crichton, to inflict the death of John Hammond in the original novel. This scene was played out by Compsognathus in the second movie, The Lost World, when they ganged up on and subdued the dinosaur hunter Dieter Stark. During this year the position of Procompsognathus as a non-crocodilian was also affirmed and the dinosaur was solidified as a coelophysid theropod. Considering the genus was 80 years old at the time, such a strange revelation may seem out of place, but the gracile little animal was difficult to place due to the fragmentary nature of the fossil, as you can see below.
Holotype on display in Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart

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