Pronounced: Ship - ee - On - ix
Diet: Carnivore (Meat-Eater)
Name Means: "Scipio Claw"
Length: 10 feet (3 m)
Height: 4 feet (1.2 m)
Weight: 130 pounds (60 kilos)
Time: Early Cretaceous - 120 MYA
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Scipionyx is considered to be one of the most important dinosaur fossils ever discovered, as it includes several internal organs. The only known fossil of this creature is that of a very well preserved baby. It is also one of the few dinosaurs ever discovered in Italy. The fossil, perfectly preserved in limestone, clearly shows many of the organs, such as a large liver, intestines, lungs and other parts never before seen in a dinosaur fossil.
This little dinosaur has provided a wealth of information and rekindled debate about warm-blooded and cold-blooded dinosaurs. The arrangement and size of the various organs within Scipionyx seem to indicate a metabolism closer to cold-blooded reptiles, but with unique designs that would have allowed this swift and agile hunter to have bursts of speed and energy more often associated with warm-blooded predators. It has been described as a reptile with a turbo-charger.
Speculation is that the large liver, positioned against the diaphragm, would have been able to assist the lungs in breathing to provide energy for chasing down prey. That dinosaurs would have had some unique evolutionary advantage that contributed to their extraordinary success as a dominant life form is not a new idea, but this fossil evidence is an exciting corroboration of a number of theories. The fact that Scipionyx is known only from a very young baby has raised some doubts regarding the conclusions drawn about these features surviving through adulthood.