“Dragon hunter”
Early Jurassic, 201-199 million years ago

This early Jurassic predator was a relative of Dilophosaurus and may have had a similar crest, but fossil evidence is sparse. It was found near Drakensburg, South Africa (“Dragon’s Mountain” in Dutch), and was given the name “dragon hunter” because it subsisted primarily on dragons. It is thought to have died out, as its main food source was imaginary.


Source: http://stasiuk.deviantart.com/art/Dilophosaurus-287238278

Group: Dilophosauridae

Classification: Cellular Life, Archaea, Proteoarchaeota, Eukaryota, Unikota, Opisthokonta, Holozoa, Filozoa, Metazoa, Eumetazoa, Planulozoa, Bilatera, Nephrozoa, Deuterostomia, Chordata, Craniata, Vertebrata, Gnathostomata, Eugnathostomata, Teleostomi, Euteleostomi, Sarcopterygii, Rhipidistia, Tetrapodomorpha, Eotetrapodiforms, Elpistostegalia, Stegocephalia, Tetrapoda, Reptiliomorpha, Anthracosauria, Batrachosauria, Cotylosauria, Amniota, Sauropsida, Eureptilia, Romeriida, Diapsida, Neodiapsida, Sauria, Archosauromorpha, Archelosauria, Archosauriformes, Crurotarsi, Archosauria, Avemetatarsalia, Ornithodira, Dinosauromorpha, Dinosauriformes, Dinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda  

Definition: This group has no formal definition. Originally, it was simply erected as a Linnaean family to include Dilophosaurus, However, since, a cladistic analysis has been performed (Smith et al., 2007): 

Meaning one could define Dilophosauridae as “All Neotheropods more closely related to Dilophosaurus than to Zupaysaurus.” However, whether or not Sinosaurus and Cryolophosaurus are actually in this clade is up to debate, with both coming up as more derived in later analyses, so they’re listed in red in this article, and will be included in the Tetanurae article. 

Organisms within: Dilophosaurus, Dracovenator, Cryolophosaurus?, Sinosaurus? 

Time Range: Shown below, numbers on the left in millions of years, animals in red questionable members of the group. This group probably evolved following the Triassic-Jurassic extinction, around 201 million years ago, when plenty of niches opened up following the decline of many large non-dinosaurian archosaurs. They went extinct as more large theropods, such as the Ceratosaurs and Tetanurans, started to evolve. 


Dilophosaurs were a group of medium to large size, early theropods, ranging about 4 to 7 meters long. This group is fairly well known for their head crests - Dilophosaurus especially - and these crests were probably used in mating displays and other such forms of communication amongst members of the species. These crests may have been sexually dimorphic, however, there is little fossil evidence for this claim. 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilophosaurus

Though not Averostrans, the group of theropods that includes Ceratosaurs and Tetanurans (which includes birds), they share many features with that group, including an air sac opening in the nostril, reduced teeth, and a modified jaw. This has lead many to believe that they were fairly closely related to Averostra, moreso than Coelophysoids. 

Source: http://kyoht.deviantart.com/art/Cryolophosaurus-ellioti-15975780

This group also feature a notch in the jaw like that of a crocodile or a Spinosaurid, which may actually mean that they were piscivorous, or at least fed on fish some of the time. This is further corroborated by tracks of Dilophosaurus that show it could swim. Many tracks have also been attributed to this group, giving a detailed picture of their feet and walking patterns. And they, like most early theropods, probably had feathers. 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilophosaurus 

Fossil Locations: The origin of Dilophosauridae is relatively hard to determine. They have a truly global range, and did not diversify early enough to infer that they evolved during the rapid dinosaurian diversification in Argentina. In fact, no Dilophosaurid has even been found in South America. Given that Dracovenator is the earliest member of the group, it’s reasonable to suppose that they arose in southern Africa, though this is hard to say with certainty. 

Biogeography: Dilophosaurids, wherever they came from, spread throughout the globe, with Dilophosaurus ranging mostly in southwestern North America (though it’s very possible that it lived in New England as well,) and Dracovenator in South Africa. Sinosaurus spread into China, and Cryolophosaurus itself is famous for living in Antarctica. Maps from Dr. Christopher Scotese. 

Read more about Dilophosaurus here!

Read more about Dracovenator here!

Read more about Sinosaurus here!

Read more about Cryolophosaurus here!







Shout out goes to @saganstation!

“Chinese lizard”
Early Jurassic, 201-196 million years ago

Related to Dilophosaurus of Jurassic Park fame, Sinosaurus had two crests on its snout and powerful, curving jaws. It lived during the Jurassic period in what is now China. The first species found, Sinosaurus triassicus, was mistakenly dated to the Triassic, prompting Sinosaurus to avoid questions about its age for a very long time. Some recent finds are interpreted as showing evidence of facelifts.