The Dilophosaurus dinosaur lived during the early Jurassic period over 193 million years ago. The remains of Dilophosaurus were found in the Kayenta formation in Arizona and in China by Sam Welles who called it Dilophosaurus which means “the double-crested lizard”.
In the summer of 1942, Sam Welles discovered the first examples of Dilophosaurus in the Kayenta formation in Arizona. Welles called the two specimens found Megalosaurus wetherilli in 1954. The specific name “wetherilli” was given in honor of John Wetherill, who had explored the area of discovery. In a search to determine the period in which the bones were dated, Welles returned to the same formation in 1964 only to find a new specimen near the location of the first discovery. Due to the double crests on the new skeleton, it became clear to Welles that the creature was very different from the Megalosaurus. It gave the name of the new genus, Dilophosaurus, to the creature in 1970. The name Dilophosaurus was obtained from the Greek words “of” (two), “lophos” (crest) and “sauos” (lizard).
The dilophosaurus weighed around 400 kilograms and was about 23 feet long. Dilophosaurus had 18 dental teeth and 12 maxillary teeth. The teeth were long with a small base and expanded basally. In the tip of the upper jaw, the teeth were smaller in size than the rest of the teeth. Like the spinach piscivorous dinosaurs, the Diloposaurus had a notch behind the first row of teeth which gave it a crocodile-like appearance. The existence of the notch was due to a weak connection between the bones of the maxillary and premaxillary skull. The lower limbs of the Dilophosaurus were longer on the upper side than on the lower side. Dilophosaurus had unique anatomical features that can be used to distinguish it. These features include a thickened dorsoposterior edge of the lacrimal bone, cervical vertebrae with neural spines that have a distinct central cup and anterior and posterior shoulders. Other unique features include a scapular blade with square distal expansion and coupled nasolacrural ridges that extend vertically from the roof of the skull. Each of the nasolacrinal crests had finger-like projections on the back side.
Tear and nasal bone extensions constitute two rounded ridges on the Dilophosaurus crest. This formation is probably the most distinctive feature of the Dilophosaurus. Scientists have speculated about the meaning of these cranial crests for many years. The delicate nature of the ridges seems to suggest that they were mainly used for exhibition purposes, although in other dinosaurs they were traditionally used to attract companions and fight potential predators of other species. However, the phylogenetic, histological and functional evidence suggests that the most probable use for crests was intra-species recognition.
Dilophosaurus in popular culture
Dilophosaurus is featured in the novel Jurassic Park and in its film adaptation. He is depicted as a poisonous creature that spits venom into his enemy’s eyes to blind and paralyze him. In the Jurassic Park film, the Dilophosaurus is depicted as a ruffle neck, very similar to that of the ornate neck lizard. Due to the lack of evidence, it is not known whether the spitting poison and the neck are characteristic of Dilophosaurus, but have been approved as an artistic license by Crichton. The size of the Dilophosaurus is also reduced in the film to 3 feet tall and 5 feet long to distinguish it from the Velociraptor.