Procompsognathus is a dinosaur that was discovered near Württemberg, Germany in 1909 by Albert Burrer. In 1913, it was named Procompsognathus by Professor Eberhard Fraas – a name which means “before elegant jaw.” It was given this name because its jaws are missing some of the components that would evolve in later dinosaurs.
Some interesting facts about Procompsognathus are that it is not only one of the earliest dinosaurs, living during the Triassic period (about 222 million years ago), but that it is also one of the tiniest dinosaurs to ever live. This dinosaur was only about 10 inches high (at the hips), 3.8 feet long and weighed a mere 2.2 pounds.
This dinosaur belongs to the Order Saurischia – meaning that members of this family were the early ancestors of modern birds. They are also known as “lizard hipped” because they have a hip structure that closely resembles that of a lizard. This includes a pubis bone that points downward and forward.
As you can tell from the Procompsognathus pictures, these dinosaurs very much resembled lizards. And they probably moved very much like a lizard – using quick short bursts to cover ground. This probably made it a pretty efficient hunter for its size.
Its diet probably consisted of small mammals, insects and other reptiles. This means that it diet could have consisted of mammals such as the Tritylodon; insects such as spiders, millipedes and centipedes; and reptiles such as Proganochelys. It might even have been a scavenger – feeding off of the carcasses of animals that have already died. However, scientists believe this is probably unlikely because this dinosaur has a lot of small pointed teeth – which it wouldn’t need if it merely scavenged its meals.
Paleontologists believe that these dinosaurs could run very quickly. While most estimates state that this dinosaur’s top speed was probably around 30 miles per hour, other estimates state that Procompsognathus may have been able to reach a top speed of 43 miles per hour. If that’s true, then that would mean this dinosaur could have run as fast as a modern day ostrich!