Where are Coelophysis fossils found?

Most of the known fossils of Coelophysis come from one place – Ghost Ranch in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. There are other Coelophysis fossil sites near Ghost Ranch, but no definite fossils of Coelophysis have been discovered outside of New Mexico.

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Coelophysis fossils are found in Rio Arriba County, in northern New Mexico. The most famous locality in Rio Arriba County is a bonebed with hundreds of skeletons of Coelophysis at Ghost Ranch. Nearby fossil sites at Orphan Mesa and the Snyder quarry also yield fossils of Coelophysis. All of these Coelophysis fossil sites are in Upper Triassic rocks that geologists call the Chinle Group, and the rocks are about 205 to 210 million years old.

Some paleontologists consider the dinosaur long-called Syntarsus (actually, Megapnosaurus is the technically correct name), first named for fossils from Zimbabwe in southern Africa, to be the same kind of dinosaur as Coelophysis. In addition to Zimbabwe, fossils of Syntarsus are known from South Africa, Arizona and possibly from China and England. So, for some paleontologists, Coelophysis (= Syntarsus) had a nearly global distribution across the Pangean supercontinent.

However, note that all the fossils that have been called Syntarsus are of Early Jurassic age (about 190 million years old), much younger than Late Triassic Coelophysis fossils from New Mexico. So, if Syntarsus and Coelophysis are the same dinosaur, that kind of dinosaur persisted for nearly 20 million years.