Compsognathus ("elegant jaw") is a genus of small, bipedal, carnivorous theropod dinosaurs. Members of its single species Compsognathus longipes could grow to the size of a turkey. They lived around 150 million years ago, the latest Kimmeridgian age of the late Jurassic period, in what is now Europe. Paleontologists have found two well-preserved fossils, one in Germany in the 1850s and the second in France more than a century later.
Today, C. longipes is the only recognized species, although the larger specimen discovered in France in the 1970s was once thought to belong to a separate species and named C. corallestris.
Many presentations still describe Compsognathus as "chicken-sized" dinosaurs because of the small size of the German specimen, which is now believed to be a juvenile. Compsognathus longipes is one of the few dinosaur species for which diet is known with certainty: the remains of small, agile lizards are preserved in the bellies of both specimens. Teeth discovered in Portugal may be further fossil remains of the genus.
Although not recognized as such at the time of its discovery, Compsognathus is the first theropod dinosaur known from a reasonably complete fossil skeleton. Until the 1990s, it was the smallest known non-avialan dinosaur; earlier it was incorrectly believed that it was the closest relative of the early bird Archaeopteryx.
Compsognathus in The Land Before Time
A group of Compsognathus are seen in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration, in Cera's sleep story about Littlefoot returning to the Valley and being welcomed as a hero, where they are depicted among the celebrating dinosaurs. Due to this portrayal in her sleep story, it can be assumed that (probably due to their small size) Compsognathus are friendly with, or are at least tolerated by Flatteeth, and possibly inhabit the Great Valley.
It is unknown what they are called; it is possible they may be called Tiny Sharpteeth, similar to how Mussaurus are called Tiny Longnecks. Due to their size and speed they may also be considered a type of Fast Biter or Fast Runner. They are also correctly depicted with three claws, as opposed to two claws, which stems from common misconception regarding Compsognathus, due to the holotype specimen only displaying two fingers on each hand due to incomplete preservation.