Coelurus is one of my favorite theropod dinosaurs, and has been since I was young. It’s not as well-known as other Jurassic theropods like Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Ornitholestes, partly because it is only known from fragmentary evidence. Yet I’m always intrigued by animals that we only have fragments of because that gives my imagination room to play. This dinosaur had pretty high popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s – it was featured in nearly every dinosaur book during that time, right alongside the more famous names that everybody knows. Since then, Coelurus has largely dropped off of the radar and has become a rather obscure species.
Coelurus had a much thinner build than its Morrison Formation coelurosaurid counterpart Ornitholestes, and it was also bigger. Ornitholestes measured 6 feet long and scarcely 2 feet tall, while Coelurus measured 8 feet long and 3 feet tall. Note the unusually long metatarsal bones. With its long lanky legs, Coelurus was probably a very good runner. I imagine it having the same ecological niche as a Secretary Bird today on the African Savannah.
I have made four previous drawings of this animal, but all of them were inaccurate in one way or another, or I was simply not satisfied with the way that the end product looked. Therefore, I decided that I needed to re-do my Coelurus yet again. This is my fifth iteration of this animal’s design, and this time I think I’ve more-or-less got it right. Made on printer paper with No. 2 pencil. The colorized version was made with Crayola and Prismacolor colored pencils.
The final image that you see below is a size comparison showing Coelurus fragilis (8 feet long) and its counterpart Ornitholestes hermanni (6 feet long) in order to give you a greater appreciation of their anatomical differences.
Keep your pencils sharp, everyone.