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A new carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Jurassic Solnhofen archipelago

Nature volume 440, pages 329332 (16 March 2006) | Download Citation



Small Late Jurassic theropod dinosaurs are rare worldwide. In Europe these carnivorous dinosaurs are represented primarily by only two skeletons of Compsognathus1,2, neither of which is well preserved. Here we describe a small new theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period of Schamhaupten in southern Germany3,4. Being exquisitely preserved and complete from the snout to the distal third of the tail, the new fossil is the best-preserved predatory, non-avian dinosaur in Europe. It possesses a suite of characters that support its identification as a basal coelurosaur. A cladistic analysis indicates that the new taxon is closer to maniraptorans than to tyrannosauroids, grouping it with taxa often considered to be compsognathids. Large portions of integument are preserved along its tail. The absence of feathers or feather-like structures in a fossil phylogenetically nested within feathered theropods5,6 indicates that the evolution of these integumentary structures might be more complex than previously thought.

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We thank H. Weiss and K.-D. Weiss for discovery of the specimen, P. Völkl for its preparation, H. Tischlinger and G. Janssen for photography, M. Kölbl-Ebert and F. Stark for access to the specimen, and E. Frey, D. Goujet, S. Hwang, R. Leinfelder, O. Rauhut, M. Röper, G. Viohl, P. Wellnhofer and W. Werner for providing access to specimens, for logistics, and/or for discussions. This research was made possible by the Humboldt Foundation, and was also supported by the Jurassic Foundation, European Commission's Research Infrastructure Action-Synthesys Program, Antorchas Foundation, Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology, Department for Geo- and Environmental Sciences (Munich University), DFG, Jura Museum, and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Author information


  1. Department for Geo- and Environmental Sciences, Section Paleontology, University of Munich, Richard-Wagner-Strasse 10, D-80333 Munich, Germany

    • Ursula B. Göhlich
  2. The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90007, USA

    • Luis M. Chiappe


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Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Luis M. Chiappe.

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    Supplementary Notes

    This file contains Supplementary Figures 1–3, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Data (Cladistic analysis, Appendices 1–3) and additional references.

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