45. Alert Coelophysis, 1947


In 1947 Edwin Colbert and a team from the American Museum of Natural History made a spectacular find at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. More than a dozen complete skeletons were discovered of Coelophysis, a previously little-known Triassic dinosaur that Cope had first described in 1889. It was clear that this animal was a runner, with long legs and a bird-like posture. In this popular article for Natural History, Colbert not only gave an account of the dramatic discovery, but he included a lively restoration by his wife, Margaret Colbert.

This drawing presents Coelophysis as a truly alert, active predator. When viewed along with Heilmann's restoration of Iguanodon (see item 44), and Knight's drawing of Ornitholestes (see item 32), we realize that the concept of the dinosaur as an active creature rather than a heavy-footed plodder has quite a venerable histsory. It is interesting that the concept would shortly go into eclipse, as the next exhibit items demonstrate.


Colbert, Edwin H. "Little dinosaurs of ghost ranch," in: Natural History, vol. 56 (1947), pp. 392-399, 427-428. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 45.

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