Liliensternus was an active hunter, agile and fast, running on two powerful hind-legs, balanced by a long, graceful tail. It was a lightly built carnivore and was the largest meat eater of its time.

Skull details suggest that Liliensternus is related to the Jurassic carnivore Dilophosaurus.The jaws were lined with sharp, blade-like teeth. The skull shows evidence of distinctive fin like crests along the snout. These may have been for species recognition or as a display to attract a mate.

Like many early theropods, Liliensternus has a five fingered hand, with a smaller fourth and fifth digit. Later theropods have three fingered hands. Liliensternus is known from two incomplete specimens found in the Kueper Formation, Saschen-Anhalt in Germany. Named for German paleontologist Hugo Ruele von Lilienstern.

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