Fossil – Small Carninorous Dinossaurs

Title: Unveiling the Enigmatic Predators: Small Carnivorous Dinosaurs of the Appalachian Period


The Appalachian Period, also known as the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous period, witnessed the presence of a diverse range of dinosaur species that roamed the ancient landscapes of present-day North America. Among these fascinating creatures were small carnivorous dinosaurs, which played a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of their time. In this article, we will explore the intriguing world of these pint-sized predators and shed light on their behaviors, adaptations, and importance in the prehistoric ecosystem.

  1. Diversity and Classification

During the Appalachian Period, numerous small carnivorous dinosaurs were part of the ecosystem, each belonging to distinct families and exhibiting a variety of physical and behavioral traits. Some of the most notable carnivorous dinosaur genera during this era included:

a. Coelurus: Belonging to the Coeluridae family, Coelurus was a small, agile predator characterized by its slender body and sharp teeth. Its size made it an efficient hunter of small vertebrates and insects.

b. Stokesosaurus: Part of the Stokesosauridae family, Stokesosaurus was a relatively small dinosaur with long legs and sharp claws. It likely preyed on smaller animals and perhaps scavenged larger dinosaur carcasses.

c. Tanycolagreus: Tanycolagreus, a member of the Proceratosauridae family, was a lightly built predator, possessing long limbs and a slender skull. It was likely an opportunistic predator that relied on its speed and agility to catch prey.

d. Ornitholestes: Belonging to the Coelurosauria group, Ornitholestes was a slender, agile dinosaur with sharp teeth. It is believed to have been a generalist predator, consuming a wide range of prey, including small dinosaurs, mammals, and reptiles.

  1. Adaptations and Hunting Strategies

Being small predators, these dinosaurs developed unique adaptations to excel in their roles within the ancient ecosystem. Some of their notable features included:

a. Size and Agility: Small carnivorous dinosaurs were relatively lightweight and agile, enabling them to navigate through dense vegetation and pursue their prey with precision.

b. Senses: Their keen senses, including excellent eyesight and sense of smell, helped them detect prey from a distance and swiftly respond to potential threats.

c. Teeth and Jaws: These carnivores possessed sharp, serrated teeth well-suited for tearing flesh and consuming their prey. Their powerful jaws enabled them to deliver lethal bites.

d. Social Behavior: Some small carnivorous dinosaurs are believed to have exhibited social behavior, living and hunting in groups to increase their chances of survival.

  1. Role in the Ecosystem

Despite their small size, these predators played crucial roles in the Appalachian ecosystem. They participated in a delicate balance between predators and prey, influencing population dynamics and preventing any one species from becoming too dominant. By controlling the numbers of herbivorous dinosaurs and smaller animals, they indirectly affected plant populations and shaped the landscape of their time.

  1. Extinction and Legacy

As the Cretaceous period dawned, the small carnivorous dinosaurs of the Appalachian Period faced various challenges, including changes in climate, geological events, and competition with other species. While some members of this group managed to survive and evolve into the next era, many eventually succumbed to extinction, making way for new predators to emerge.


The small carnivorous dinosaurs of the Appalachian Period were not as iconic as their larger relatives like Tyrannosaurus rex or Velociraptor, but they were essential contributors to the ancient ecosystem. Their unique adaptations, hunting strategies, and role in the food chain showcased the intricacies of prehistoric life and the web of interdependence that governed it. As paleontologists continue to unearth new discoveries, these small carnivores will undoubtedly remain a fascinating and integral part of the rich tapestry of Earth’s history.