Species: Coelophysis kayentakatae (See-loh-fy-sis Kah-yen-tah-kah-tay)
What it means: Hollow form
Other species: Coelophysis bauri (type), Coelophysis rhodesiensis
Where I live: Arizona in the U.S.A.- The Kayenta formation
When to find me: The Early Jurassic period, about 196 million years ago.
My favorite food: Meat! I’m a carnivore.
My neighborhood: The Kayenta formation used to be a tropical floodplain, a bit like African savannah today- but no grass or flowers. Ferns cover the open plains, dotted with islands of spiky cycad groves. Rivers crisscross the land with lush tree ferns, ginkgo trees, and conifers. Every year during the wet season the plains turn into a flooded marsh, but the hottest months bring no rain, and the rivers shrink until the plains are almost as dry as the great desert that lies to the north.
A few of my neighbors: Sarahsaurus (an early sauropod) and Scelidosaurus (armored dinosaur) are some tough neighbors. We don’t talk much. But if I’m lucky, little Scutellosaurus (small armored dinosaur) might join me for lunch. Dilophosaurus is the biggest carnivore around, but Kayentavenator (smaller meat-eater) are happy to share a few leftovers or join me on a quick chase after frogs, turtles, or a crocodile cousin or two. They like to stay close to the rivers. A long-tailed pterosaur patrols the skies for insects like beetles, dragonflies, an ancient cousin of the moth, and something called a snakefly.
- My brother and sister Coelophysis have been running around here since the Triassic period! (technically different species of Coelophysis, but still, same genus)
- I’m also known by the name Syntarsus, because it can be hard to figure out what bones are supposed to look like when they’re squashed by time, or broken before they’re fossilized. It was later determined that what appeared to make the bones unique from Coelophysis were really just distortion, so the name Syntarsus is no longer used.
- When I was first discovered, some thought I might be a young Dilophosaurus because I have a double crest like the big guy, but they quickly determined that I was not because just like human children, young dinosaurs have bones that still have soft areas with room to grow. All my bones were ossified, and could not grow anymore.
- The name Coelophysis comes from the Greek koilos (hollow) and physis (form). Kayentakatae is in honor of Dr. Kathleen Smith, who was often called “Kayenta Kay” for her work in the Kayenta formation, including her involvement in the discovery of the type specimen for C. kayentakatae.
Fossil Finds: Remains of at least three semi-articulated individuals that died in the same time and place, so that the bones are intertwined with each other.