Segisaurus (meaning "Segi canyon lizard") is a genus of small coelophysoid theropod dinosaur, that measured approximately 1 metre (3.3 feet) in length. The only known specimen was discovered in early Jurassic strata in Tsegi Canyon, Arizona, for which it was named. Segisaurus is the only dinosaur to have ever been excavated from the area.

Temporal range: Early Jurassic, 183 Ma
Segisaurus halli
Restoration of the holotype skeleton from 1936
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Family: Coelophysidae
Genus: Segisaurus
Camp, 1936
Type species
Segisaurus halli
Camp, 1936



Segisaurus lived about 183 million years ago during the Jurassic period. Segisaurus was roughly the size of a goose and was a primitive bipedal theropod. Segisaurus was roughly 1 meter (3.3 feet) long, half a meter (1.65 feet) tall and weighed about 4-7 kilograms. It was nimble and insectivorous, although it may have scavenged meat also. It was bird-like in structure, with a flexible, elongated neck and stout body. Segisaurus was three-toed and had powerful legs that were long compared to its body length. Like its legs, Segisaurus had a long tail and long forearms. Its collar bone was not unlike a bird's, thus strengthening scientists' arguments that dinosaurs were related to avians. Segisaurus is described from the only specimen ever found, the holotype UCMP 32101, which was a sub-adult. The full size of Segisaurus as an adult may never be known. Strangely, clavicles were found on the Segisaurus specimen, which were unknown in other dinosaurs from that era. A speculative interpretation by Charles Lewis Camp was that the "splint-like" neck ribs supported a Draco-like patagium along the neck, to improve the animal's ability to move quickly.[1] Segisaurus is significant because it demonstrates that the clavicle was primitively present in early theropods.[2]


Segisaurus was described in 1936 by the paleontologist Charles Lewis Camp, based on specimen UCMP 32101, a fragmentary fossil skeleton which consisted of portions of the limbs, pelvis, and vertebrae. Cranial material was not recovered. Segisaurus went relatively ignored for the next half century. When the specimen was examined during this period, all who viewed it commented on the presence of clavicles and the apparently "solid" bones that the dinosaur had. Segisaurus appeared to be closely related to the better-known Coelophysis, but unlike the hollow bones of Coelophysis, Segisaurus had solid bones. This caused some scientists question whether Segisaurus was a theropod at all. In 2005, a re-examination of the Segisaurus holotype revealed that contrary to reports it did in fact have hollow bones.[3] In this study, Carano et al. found that although it was very unusual, Segisaurus was firmly a coelophysoid, and probably a close relative of Procompsognathus.[3]

Distinguishing anatomical features

A diagnosis is a statement of the anatomical features of an organism (or group) that collectively distinguish it from all other organisms. Some, but not all, of the features in a diagnosis are also autapomorphies. An autapomorphy is a distinctive anatomical feature that is unique to a given organism or group.

According to Rauhut (2003), Segisaurus can be distinguished based on the following features:[4]

  • the dorsal centra are not very constricted ventrally
  • the scapula is slender
  • the humeral shaft has stronger torsion (~50 degrees) than does that of Coelophysis
  • the presence of a large ischial fenestra (according to Carrano et al., 2005)[5]
  • the humeral deltopectoral crest is rectangular

History of discovery

Segisaurus halli holotype
Illustration of the holotype skeleton, shown as it was found

In 1933, Max Littlesalt, a Navajo Indian, discovered Segisaurus in Tsegi Canyon of the Navajo Sandstone Formation, of Coconino County, Arizona. The specimen was found in calcareous sandstone, which was deposited during the Pliensbachian - Toarcian stages of the Jurassic, approximately 190 to 174 million years ago. After discovering the remains, Littlesalt, who kept livestock inside the canyon, pointed out the fossils to archeologists who were on an expedition inside the canyon. Other than the first finding of Segisaurus, no other specimens have been discovered.

When the specimen of Segisaurus was discovered, Camp likened its posture to that of a "sitting hen", due to the position the dinosaur's remains were in.[1] Other theropods used this positions to sleep or stay sheltered during sand and ash storms.


The Segisaurus holotype was found in a bed of sandstone, suggesting that the dinosaur had been buried in a layer of sand and died. This is still only a hypothesis, as no nest or den materials were discovered with the specimen. Geological features of the Navajo Sandstone Formation suggest that this genus lived in an environment resembling modern sand dunes.


  1. ^ a b Camp, C. (1936). "A new type of small bipedal dinosaur from the Navajo sandstone of Arizona." Univ. Calif. Publ., Bull. Dept. Geol. Sci., 24: 39-56.
  2. ^ Chure, D. J., and Madsen, J. H., 1996, The furcula in Allosaurid Theropods and its implication for determining bird origins: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, v. 16, supplement to n. 3, Abstracts of Papers, Fifty-sixth Annual Meeting, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, October 16–19, p. 28A.
  3. ^ a b Carrano, M.T, Hutchinson, J.R, and Sampson, S.D. (2005). "New information on Segisaurus halli, a small theropod dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Arizona." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25(4): 835-849.
  4. ^ Rauhut, O. W. M., 2003, The interrelationships and evolution of basal theropod dinosaurs: Special Papers in Palaeontology, v. 69, p. 1-213.
  5. ^ Carrano, M. T., Hutchinson, J. R., and Sampson, S. D., 2005 (published in 2006), New information on Segisaurus halli, a small theropod dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Arizona: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, v. 25, n. 4, p. 835-849.

External links

1936 in paleontology

Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1936.


Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.


Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.


Cerapoda ("ceratopsians and ornithopods") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia.

Charles Lewis Camp

Charles Lewis Camp (March 12, 1893 Jamestown, North Dakota – August 14, 1975 San Jose, California) was a palaeontologist and zoologist, working from the University of California, Berkeley. He took part in excavations at the 'Placerias Quarry', in 1930 and the forty Shonisaurus skeleton discoveries of the 1960s, in what is now the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. Camp served as the third director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology from 1930 to 1949, and coincidentally as chair of the UC Berkeley Paleontology Department between 1939 and 1949. Camp named a number of species of marine reptiles such as Shonisaurus and Plotosaurus, as well as the dinosaur Segisaurus.

Camp was also an important bibliographer and historian of Western America. This aspect of his career is represented most notably by two works. The first is his biography of American pioneer James Clyman, which Bernard De Voto called "one of the half-dozen classics in the field." The second work was the third edition of The Plains and the Rockies, published in 1953, which Camp annotated heavily. He was the 1970 recipient of the California Historical Society's Henry Raup Wagner Memorial Award.

The theropod Camposaurus was named in Camp's honour in 1998.


Coelophysidae is a family of primitive carnivorous theropod dinosaurs. Most species were relatively small in size. The family flourished in the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic periods, and has been found on numerous continents. Many members of Coelophysidae are characterized by long, slender skulls and light skeletons built for speed. One member, Coelophysis, displays the earliest known furcula in a dinosaur.Under cladistic analysis, Coelophysidae was first defined by Paul Sereno in 1998 as the most recent common ancestor of Coelophysis bauri and Procompsognathus triassicus, and all of that common ancestor's descendants. However, Tykoski (2005) has advocated for the definition to change to include the additional taxa of "Syntarsus" kayentakatae and Segisaurus halli. Coelophysidae is part of the superfamily Coelophysoidea, which in turn is a subset of the larger Neotheropoda clade. As part of Coelophysoidea, Coelophysidae is often placed as sister to the Dilophosauridae family, however, the monophyly of this clade has often been disputed. The older term "Podokesauridae", named 14 years prior to Coelophysidae (which would normally grant it priority), is now usually ignored, since its type specimen was destroyed in a fire and can no longer be compared to new finds.


Coelophysoidea were common dinosaurs of the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic periods. They were widespread geographically, probably living on all continents. Coelophysoids were all slender, carnivorous forms with a superficial similarity to the coelurosaurs, with which they were formerly classified, and some species had delicate cranial crests. Sizes range from about 1 to 6 m in length. It is unknown what kind of external covering coelophysoids had, and various artists have portrayed them as either scaly or feathered. Some species may have lived in packs, as inferred from sites where numerous individuals have been found together.

Examples of coelophysoids include Coelophysis, Procompsognathus and Liliensternus. Most dinosaurs formerly referred to as being in the dubious taxon "Podokesauridae" are now classified as coelophysoids.


Dinosauriformes is a clade of archosaurian reptiles that include the dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives. All dinosauriformes are distinguished by several features, such as shortened forelimbs and a partially to fully perforated acetabulum, the hole in the hip socket traditionally used to define dinosaurs. The oldest known member is Asilisaurus, dating to about 245 million years ago in the Anisian age of the middle Triassic period.


Dracoraptor is a genus of carnivorous neotheropod dinosaur from the Hettangian age of the Early Jurassic period of Wales.


Gojirasaurus (meaning "Godzilla Lizard") is a dubious genus of coelophysoid theropod dinosaur named after the giant monster movie character Gojira (the Japanese name for the monster Godzilla).

Haya griva

Haya is an extinct genus of basal neornithischian dinosaur known from Mongolia.


Jingshanosaurus (meaning "Jingshan lizard") is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period.


Neotheropoda (meaning "new theropods") is a clade that includes coelophysoids and more advanced theropod dinosaurs, and the only group of theropods who survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Yet all of the neotheropods became extinct during the early Jurassic period except for Averostra.


Orionides is a clade of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic to the Present. The clade includes most theropod dinosaurs, including birds.


Orodrominae is a subfamily of parksosaurid dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia.


Procompsognathus is an extinct genus of coelophysid theropod dinosaur that lived approximately 210 million years ago during the later part of the Triassic Period, in what is now Germany. Procompsognathus was a small-sized, lightly built, ground-dwelling, bipedal carnivore, that could grow up to 1 m (3.3 ft) long.


Sarcosaurus (meaning "flesh lizard") is a genus of theropod dinosaur, roughly 3.5 metres (11 ft) long. It lived during the Sinemurian stage of the Early Jurassic, about 194 million years ago. Sarcosaurus is one of the earliest known Jurassic theropods, and one of only a handful of theropod genera from this time period.


Xixiposaurus is a genus of prosauropod dinosaur which existed in what is now Lower Lufeng Formation, China during the lower Jurassic period. It was first named by Sekiya Toru in 2010 and the type species is Xixiposaurus suni.


Zupaysaurus (; "ZOO-pay-SAWR-us") is a genus of early theropod dinosaur living during the Norian stage of the Late Triassic in what is now Argentina. Fossils of the dinosaur were found in the Los Colorados Formation of the Ischigualasto-Villa Unión Basin in northwestern Argentina. Although a full skeleton has not yet been discovered, Zupaysaurus can be considered a bipedal predator, up to 4 metres (13 ft) long. It may have had two parallel crests running the length of its snout.


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