Compsognathus was a small, meat-eating, bird-like dinosaur that walked on two slender legs. It was the size of a chicken and is the smallest-known dinosaur. It was a carnivore (a meat eater) that caught and ate small animals, including insects and lizards; a fossilized lizard was found in Compsognathus' stomach. Compsognathus was a theropod dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic period about 155 million to 145 million years ago.
Anatomy: Compsognathus' bones were hollow. Its long tail acted as a counterbalance and added to stability during fast turns. Compsognathus was from 28 inches-4.6 feet long (0.7-1.4 m), about 6.5 pounds (3 kg) and was about the size of a chicken. Its femur (thigh bone) was only 4. 3 inches (11 cm) long.
Fossils and Name: Compsognathus was first discovered by Dr. Oberndorfer in limestone deposits in the southern Germany in the late 1850's. This dinosaur was named by Johann A. Wagner in 1859. Only two Compsognathus fossils have been found; one in Germany, another in France.