The Truth About the Coelurosauravus (a.k.a. Rex From 'Primeval')

Click here to download a printable, crayon-ready version of this image.

Watching "Primeval," you'd be forgiven for thinking that Rex -- Abby's flying dinosaur pet and the de facto mascot for the Super British Prehistoric Timeforce -- is the product of some writer's imagination. No, scratch that. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was dreamt up by some writer's nine-year-old daughter who dreamed up a sort of flitting fairy princess version of a dinosaur. But you'd be wrong: the coelurosauravus was a real dinosaur.

But how much of "Primeval" is scientifically accurate? That's what we're looking into today. (And no, Rex isn't the prehistoric creature of the week. It's actually giant worms. We said, "Hmm, giant worms that didn't actually ever exist or cute flying thing that did?" The latter won.)

1. The coelurosauravus could actually move through the air, but not quite how it's depicted on "Primeval."

No, this wasn't a literal dragonfly. It glided, so you could only say that the coelurosauravus flew in the way a flying squirrel flies. Which is to say it can't, strictly speaking.

2. That said, the means by which it flies has never been observed any other creature -- extinct or alive today.

Yep, it was completely unique, according to this 1997 New York Times article: "Nor are they flexible extensions of the ribs, as in the wing struts of the modern gliding lizard Draco. In fact, paleontologists have now learned, the long, rodlike bones supporting this ancient reptile's lateral gliding membrane were formed directly in the skin, unattached in any way to the skeleton." For the record, the Times article is referring to the species Coelurosauravus jaeckeli, but the feature is shared by the entire genus.

3. It wasn't quite as big as we see on TV.

And when you consider that this little guy was gliding around, wouldn't it make sense that he was smaller? As far as scientists know, members of the Coelurosauravus genus were only about 16 inches long, according to Wikipedia's guide to the creatures of "Primeval." Can we just assume that the producers beefed up Rex for greater screen presence?

4. Scientists aren't sure that they had the flashy, retractable crests that Rex does.

But you have to admit: It certainly makes him look more fashionable. Let's call it "speculative" rather than "fabricated."

5. The species name meant "hollow lizard grandfather."

Which sounds like a lesser album by some 60s band that spent more time doing acid than practicing their songs. Let's be glad Abby and crew just call their resident coelurosauravus Rex.

Got a dinosaur fan at home? Or just eager to for an excuse to buy a box of markers? The velociraptor drawing at the top of this page is available in a high-quality, printable, crayon-ready PDF version. Click here to open it and then just print?

And read more about the creatures of "Primeval" here.


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