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STL Science Center
06 July 2016
Compsognathus' Extra Material
The name Compsognathus means "elegant jaw" with an alternative definition of "dainty" but the dinosaur was far from fragile; though it may have been elegant. Both specimens are robustly preserved, the German specimen even more so. The German specimen is thought to contain eggs in addition to its integument preservation. A chicken sized dinosaur with well preserved skin and eggs a marvel unto itself but could certainly spawn chicken-dinosaur-egg jokes. This specimen also contains gastric contents, illuminating the diet of the small dinosaur as it was in the instant that it died. Illustrations of Compsognathus prior to the more famed illustration by Nopsca in 1903 that shows these coincidental fossils, such as that by Marsh in 1896, were recreated in the traditional dinosaur pose with the tail dragging along behind it. Both Nopsca and Marsh's illustrations are great for what they are. Marsh's illustration shows the body plan and skeleton of the dinosaur in a reasonably accurate portrayal of the bony anatomy, though not in posture, as noted earlier. Nopsca's illustration is great for showing the coincidental fossil material. Together they show a great deal of information about the dinosaur.