Temporal range: Late Jurassic – Early Cretaceous, 151.5–108 Ma
|Cast of a Compsognathus longipes specimen, Oxford University Museum of Natural History|
Compsognathidae is a family of small carnivorous dinosaurs, generally conservative in form, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. Compsognathids lie at or near the origin of feathers—skin impressions are known from four genera, Compsognathus, Sinosauropteryx, Sinocalliopteryx, and Juravenator. While Juravenator, Sinosauropteryx, and Sinocalliopteryx show evidence of a covering of simple, primitive feathers, Juravenator and Compsognathus also show evidence of scales on the tail or hind legs.
In 2003, O.W.M. Rauhut redefined the family Coeluridae to include Coelurus (Late Jurassic, North America), Compsognathus (Late Jurassic, Europe), Sinosauropteryx (Early Cretaceous, Asia) and an unnamed Compsognathus-like form (Early Cretaceous, South America; this dinosaur has since been placed in the new genus Mirischia). However, this taxonomy has not been widely adopted. Sereno (2005) points out that Compsognathidae has priority of name, even if dinosaurs such as Coelurus or Ornitholestes belong in the same family as Compsognathus.
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