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Compsognathus is smallest known dinosaur, and was about the size of a chicken. It was 2½ to 4½ feet (0.7 to 1.4 meters) long, and weighed about 6 to 7 pounds (about 3 kilograms). It is believed to be the closest known of relative of the early bird, Archaeopteryx.
Compsognathus was a fast-runner and used its speed when hunting lizards, insects and other small animals.
Compsognathus is known from two near complete skeletons that were found in Germany and France. The German specimen was discovered by Joseph Oberndorfer in Bavarian limestone deposits in the 1850s (where well-preserved Archaeopteryx specimens have also been found). Johann A. Wagner described the specimen in papers in 1859 and 1861, and called it Compsognathus longipes. In 1868, Thomas Huxley hypothesized that the creature was closely related to dinosaurs, and in 1896 Othniel C. Marsh recognized that Compsognathus was in fact a dinosaur. The French specimen of Compsognathus was discovered in 1972, and although this was originally thought to be a separate species, it was later realized that the German specimen was a juvenile member of the same species.
Compsognathus was a carnivore (meat-eater) that lived from 155 to 145 million years ago
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