Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature Profile of the Procompsognathus Share Flipboard Email Print Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Animals & Nature Dinosaurs Carnivores Basics Paleontologists Dinosaurs & Birds Herbivores Marine Reptiles Prehistoric Mammals Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Marine Life Forestry Evolution View More By Bob Strauss Science Writer B.S., Cornell University Bob Strauss is a science writer and the author of several books, including "The Big Book of What, How and Why" and "A Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of North America." our editorial process Bob Strauss Updated September 30, 2019 Name: Procompsognathus (Greek for "before the elegant jaw"); pronounced PRO-comp-SOG-nah-thuss Habitat: Swamps of western Europe Historical Period: Late Triassic (210 million years ago) Size and Weight: About four feet long and 5-10 pounds Diet: Small animals and insects Distinguishing Characteristics: Small size; bipedal posture; long legs and snout About Procompsognathus Despite its name--"before Compsognathus"--the evolutionary relationship of Procompsognathus to the later and much-better known Compsognathus is uncertain at best. Because of the poor quality of this dinosaur's fossil remains, the best we can say about Procompsognathus is that it was a carnivorous reptile, but beyond that, it's unclear if it was an early theropod dinosaur or a late archosaur akin to the bipedal Marasuchus (and thus not a dinosaur at all). In either event, though, Procompsognathus (and other reptiles like it) certainly lay at the base of later dinosaur evolution, either as direct progenitors of this fearsome breed or great-uncles a few times removed. One of the little known facts about Procompsognathus is that it was this dinosaur, and not Compsognathus, that had cameos in Michael Crichton's novels Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Crichton portrays "compies" as slightly venomous (in the books, Procompsognathus bites render their victims drowsy and ready for the kill), as well as eager consumers of sauropod poop. Needless to say, both of these attributes are complete inventions; to date, paleontologists have yet to identify any venomous dinosaurs, and there is no fossil evidence that any dinosaurs ate excrement (though it's certainly not outside the range of possibility).