Fun Ornitholestes Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 20, 2022 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Oct 04, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Learn some amazing Ornitholestes facts!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The Ornitholestes was the first among all the theropod dinosaurs to be discovered. They existed on earth about 154 million years ago, during the Late Jurassic period.

The classification of the Ornitholestes was earlier made in the Coelurus genus. Later, this primitive dinosaur was made into the Ornitholestes genus.

The bipedal Ornitholestes is currently known and researched upon only from the remains of a partial skeleton that has a badly crushed skull. This only skeleton was unearthed in the year 1900 at the Bone Cabin Quarry in Wyoming, near the Medicine Bow.

These small theropods were described in the year 1903 by American paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn. Earlier, the remains of an incomplete hand were attributed to this genus. However, it has now been concluded to belong to Tanycolagreus.

Wondering what the diet of this dinosaur of the Jurassic period contained? Well, paleontologists have discovered that this dinosaur was a carnivore, and ate birds mainly. It also ate other small animals like lizards and frogs.

Interested to know about other dinosaur specimens? For more relatable content, check out these Ostafrikasaurus facts and Atrociraptor facts for kids.

Ornitholestes Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Ornitholestes'?

The name Ornitholestes is pronounced as 'Or-nif-oh-less-tees'.

What type of dinosaur was an Ornitholestes?

The Ornitholestes (meaning bird robber) is a type of theropod.

In which geological period did Ornitholestes roam the earth?

The bird robber is said to have existed during the Late Jurassic period, around the time of the middle Kimmeridgian age. This has been approximated to be about 154 million years ago.

When did the Ornitholestes become extinct?

We do know that this small theropod became extinct a million years ago. However, we are not aware of the exact time when these dinosaurs became extinct.

Where did Ornitholestes live?

The discovery of the fossils of Ornitholestes was found in modern-day North America. They were unearthed from the Brushy Basin Member of western America’s Morrison Formation. This region was said to be in ancient western Laurasia.

What was the Ornitholestes' habitat?

These dinosaurs of the Jurassic period were ground dwellers.

Who did Ornitholestes live with?

Sorry, we are not capable of providing much information about the social life of this Theropoda dinosaur. However, it is known that these dinosaurs hunted for prey in packs.

How long did Ornitholestes live?

Unfortunately, not much is known about these dinosaurs found in Wyoming.

How did they reproduce?

Sorry, we do not know much about the reproduction process of the Late Jurassic era dinosaur. The only thing noted is that they reproduced by laying eggs.

Ornitholestes Fun Facts

What did Ornitholestes look like?

The AMNH 619 holotype represents only a partial skeleton. This skeleton also included a skull, and even various elements of forelimbs, hindlimbs, vertebral columns, and even the pelvis.

The head has been said to be proportionally smaller in comparison to other predatory specimens. The skull has a short snout, a robust and flexible lower jaw, and was heavily built.

The front teeth were conical in shape, having reduced serrations. The back teeth, however, are sharply serrated and recurved. There were four teeth counted in the premaxilla by Henry, the front tooth being the largest one in the upper jaw. However, Paul depicted this theropod’s skull with only three remaining premaxillary teeth.

Each maxilla had 10 teeth, while each dentary contained 12 teeth. Their teeth were short; the lower dentary row is shorter than the upper maxillary row.

The neck of the Ornitholestes was short, with a slightly curved structure. The tail was extremely long and like a whip. This tail comprised more than half the length of the body.

Unfortunately, all the vertebrae of this species were not preserved. However, there have been estimates that the dinosaur had about four sacral vertebrae, 9-10 cervical vertebrae, 39-44 caudal vertebrae, and 13 dorsal vertebrae. They also had sharp claws, which may have helped them to catch prey.

The forelimbs were about two-thirds the total length of the dinosaur's hind legs. They had three-clawed feet.

Some say that this dinosaur had feathers as well. It has been suggested that the feathers covered the body entirely is a short coat, except the legs. These feathers may have been useful for either insulation or activities related to reproduction, such as brooding the eggs.

The Ornitholestes were known to prey on primitive birds.

How many bones did an Ornitholestes have?

Sorry, we do not know the total bones the Ornitholestes (meaning bird robber) had.

How did they communicate?

Unfortunately, we do not have this information but it is thought dinosaurs communicated physically and verbally through sounds .

How big was the Ornitholestes?

Henry Osborn mentioned in the description published in the year 1903 that the length of the Ornitholestes along with the vertebral columns and skull restored was about 7.2 ft (2.2 m).

Following this, other researches conducted have shown that this reconstruction was not correct, with the trunk and neck being too elongated.

Thus, David Norman (in the year 1985) and John Foster (in the year 2007) states that the length of this dinosaur was roughly about 6.6 ft (2 m) long. Later publications, such as ‘Predatory Dinosaurs of the World’ published in the year 1988 by Gregory S. Paul stated that the Ornitholestes size was about 6.8 ft (2.1 m) long.

This makes them about seven times the size of the Palaeopteryx thompsoni.

How fast could an Ornitholestes move?

Sorry, there is not much information available on the speed of these members of the Theropoda Clade.

How much did an Ornitholestes weigh?

Gregory S. Paul (in the year 1988) and John Foster (in the year 2007) estimated that the weight of this dinosaur was roughly about 27.8 lb (12.6 kg). However, in the year 2008, paleontologists Peter Schouten and John A. Long estimated this theropod having a weight of about 33.1 lb (15 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female dinosaurs of this species.

What would you call a baby Ornitholestes?

You can simply call a baby dinosaur a hatchling.

What did they eat?

This small theropod was said to be a bipedal carnivore. It is one of the well-known predatory theropods. The diet of these specimens mainly consisted of the meat of other animals.

Osborn, upon observations of the skeleton, concluded that these dinosaurs had efficient and rapid grasping power of the hand, and had good balancing capabilities of the tail. Other researchers suggested that these adaptations in this dinosaur were made to make it easier for them to prey easily on primitive birds.

Recent authors say that the Ornitholestes ate animal meat, with salamanders, lizards, mammals, frogs, and dinosaur hatchlings being a part of the diet. Some even claim that the front conical teeth may have been used to grasp fish.

How aggressive were they?

We wish we could tell you more information related to the Ornitholestes nature, whether they were aggressive or not.

Did you know...

The Ornitholestes was the first of all theropods to have been discovered by researchers in the 1900s. The AMNH 619 was the holotype skeleton that was unearthed in the year 1900 (July).

This skeleton was excavated in Wyoming at the Bone Cabin Quarry. This was conducted by an American Museum of Natural History expedition which was conducted by Paul Miller, Peter C. Kaisen as well as Frederic Brewster Loomis.

The American Museum of Natural History, located in New York City, has an entire galore rich in history. Name any specimen, you can find its fossil remains here. There are more than 34 million specimens present here, which include fossils, plants, animals, and even meteorites.

The American Museum of Natural History houses the largest collection of dinosaur and mammal fossils.

Why are they called Ornitholestes?

The Ornitholestes were described and named the specimen by Henry Fairfield Osborn in the year 1903. The name of the genus, Ornitholestes, was initially passed as a suggestion by American ichthyologist, Theodore Gill. The meaning of Ornitholestes translates to ‘a bird robber’. This name comes from the Greek terms ornis/ornithos, which translates to ‘bird’, and lestes which means ‘robber’.

The type species falling under this genus is Ornitholestes hermanni.

The specific name of the type species, ‘hermanni’, is named in honor of Adam Hermann, the preparator of the American Museum of Natural History.

Adam Hermann was the head preparator of the American Museum of Natural History. He directed and overlooked the restoration as well as mounting of the Ornitholestes skeleton.

What habitat did Ornitholestes live in?

This small theropod dinosaur was said to survive in almost all habitats.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Incisivosaurus interesting facts and Austroraptor fun facts for kids pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Ornitholestes coloring pages.

Main image by PaleoNeolitic.

Second image by Etemenanki3.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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