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Dilophosaurus

Updated on July 11, 2012

Dilophosaurus or "two crested lizard" was a primitive theropod dinosaur that Sinemurian age of the Early Jurassic Period, 193 million years ago. The first specimen was a badly crushed skull described by Sam Welles in the summer of 1942 in Arizona. The specimen was taken back to Berkeley and was originally named Megalosaurus wetherilli. It is one of the earliest known Jurassic theropods and one of the least understood. A decade later, upon returning to the site where the skull fragments were discovered Welles had uncovered a new skeleton in that area. The specimens was then renamed Dilophosaurus, in reference to the double crest clearly seen running along the top of the new skull.

Food and lifestyle

Dilophosaurus was a small for a theropod. It stood about 6-8 feet tall, was 20 feet from nose to tail and would've weighed about 900 and 1100 pounds. They had long powerful arms ending in 4 finger hands with slashing claws and an opposable thumb. This would have allowed the dinosaur to grip it's prey. Dilophosaurus had long powerful legs also tipped with fierce claws for slashing prey. One thing about dilophosaurus that paleontologists noticed is that they had very weak jaws not really designed for biting a struggling prey item. This has lead some paleontologists to suggest that dilophosaurus was more of a scavenger than an active hunter. However others have suggested that dilophosaurus would be able to kill most dinosaurs within in environment without the teeth, but instead using it's leathal claws.

In popular culture

Dilophosaurus is most widely known as the spitting dinosaurs featured prominently in the Jurassic Park franchise including Michael Crichton's book, the first film and various video games. In Jurassic Park the book Crichton depicted dilophosaurus accurately except for the spitting aspect which of course can't be proven or dis-proven. In Spielberg's film The dinosaur was shown with a frill around it's neck, spitting poison, and it was made much smaller as to not be confused with the films raptors. Of course there is no fossil evidence for this. Many video games and series featuring dilophosaurus show them with the frill and spitting poison since. When Dinosaurs Roamed America shows a scientifically accurate dilophosaurus scaring off a group of smaller Megapnosaurus to steal their Anchisaurus.

Dilophosaurus: Triple Threat (WDRA)

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