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Temporal range: Late Jurassic
086 ornitholestes hermanni by green mamba-d5kbyo9.png
An artist's illustration of Ornitholestes hermanni
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Subfamily: Ornitholestinae
Paul, 1988
Genus: Ornitholestes
Osborn, 1903
Species: O. hermanni
Binomial name
Ornitholestes hermanni
Osborn, 1903

Ornitholestes (or-NITH-oh-LESS-tees), or "bird thief", was a small carnivorous Maniraptoriform dinosaur from North America during the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous period.

General descriptionEdit

A crew from the American Museum of Natural History found the first remains of Ornitholestes (or "bird robber") at Bone Cabin Quarry near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, in 1900. It is consisted of a skull and partial skeleton. This is the same quarry where workers found Apatosaurus, now mounted in the American Museum of Natural History.
250px-Ornitholestes mount at Royal Tyrrell Museum

An Ornitholestes skeleton.

H.F. Osborn briefly described Ornitholestes in 1903. In that paper, he aslo grouped a partial hand from the same quarry, but not the same animal, in the same genus. The skull is complete, though badly crushed. Serrated teeth line the jaws. The first tooth in the upper jaw is the largest. Ornitholestes may have had a small horn over its nose, but scientists are not sure.

The hands are not complete. If the partial hand of the other animal belongs to the same genus, the first finger was short, and the second and third fingers were much longer. Ornitholestes may have caputered and held its prey with its hand. All the fingers had sharp curved claws. The animal probably weighed about 35 pounds. For many years, scientists thought Ornitholestes and Coelurus were the same genus. In 1980, however, John Ostrom showed that they weren't. It lived alongside dinosaurs like Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Dryosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Allosaurus, and also pterosaurs like Rhamphorhynchus.

Height. 3 feet

Length. 7 feet

In Popluar CultureEdit

Ornitholestes was in the famous documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, where one stalked and killed several baby Diplodocus and was chased off by the adults sauropods, Allosaurus, and Stegosaurus.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs Ornitholestes
  • Primeval: New World Ornitholestes
  • Fantasia Ornitholestes
  • Dinosaur Revolution Ornitholestes
  • The Land Before Time III: Time of the Great Giving Ornitholestes

It was also featured in the documentary Dinosaur Revolution where one was killed by an angry Allosaurus mother, and another lived by a dried waterhole, chased around a Rhamphorhynchus, and was chased away by a sub-adult Allosaurus and Torvosaurus.

Ornitholestes also appears in the seventh episode of Primeval: New World, where its shown to resemble the design used for Walking with Dinosaurs and The Ballad of Big Al, and attacks the protagonists. It reappeared in the eleventh episode where it was shown dead after being subjected to many tests by Project Magnet.

A group of Ornitholestes appeared in The Land Before Time III: the Time of the Great Giving crossing a river.

It appears in The Lost World novel. Campers find the corpse of a large reptile on the beach of Rojas. Martin "Marty" Guitierrez invites Richard Levine to identify the creature. The corpse is destroyed by soldiers shortly after the scientists arrive. Levine identifies the creature as an Ornitholestes. Levine manages to save a skin sample from the creature. The sample is send to Ian Malcolm. Elizabeth Gelman analyzes the sample and shows the results to Malcolm. The skin has a structure comparable with pelicans; although it doesn't have feathers. It also has a 2 cm square green plastic radio tag. Elizabeth Gelman also notes that the skin contains a density of chromatophores, or pigment-bearing cells. The chromatophore could open and close. Meaning that this animal could change color, like a chameleon.

Ornitholestes is no. 024 of the Carnivore Ones that can be created in Jurassic Park III: Park Builder.



General Description Credits to "ROMTECH" Computer CD Dinosaur Discovery


Walking with Dinosaurs

Dinosaur Revolution

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