Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A carnivorous theropod dinosaur of the genus Compsognathus of the Jurassic Period, characterized by its very small size, thought to be about that of a chicken.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A genus of extinct reptiles, of the suborder Compsognatha, order Ornithoscelida, from the Solenhofen slates of Bavaria, remarkable as being the most bird-like reptiles known. It differs from the genera of Dinosauria proper in the great length of the cervical vertebræ and in the shortness of the femur, which is not so long as the tibia. The astragalus was probably ankylosed with the tibia. The animal had a light bird-like head, jaws with numerous teeth, very long neck and hind limbs, and small fore limbs. According to Huxley, “it is impossible … to doubt that it hopped or walked in an erect or semi-erect position, after the manner of a bird, to which its long neck, slight head, and small anterior limbs must have given it an extraordinary resemblance.”

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A genus of carnivorous Dinosauria found in the Jurassic formation with a slender body, and remarkable for having several birdlike features. It reached a length of 30 inches when adult.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun very small bipedal carnivorous dinosaur of the late Jurassic in Bavaria

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin genus name : Greek kompsos, refined, delicate + Greek gnathos, jaw; see genu- in Indo-European roots.]

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