By Sam Stanton on @artisticthingem
Name: Dilophosaurus wetherilli
Name Meaning: Two crested lizard
First Described: 1954
Described By: Welles
Classification: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Dilophosauridae
Dilophosaurus is a fairly well known - and fairly misunderstood - early theropod dinosaur. It lived around 193 million years ago in the Sinemurian stage of the early Jurassic Period. At first it was named a species of Megalosaurus, however upon the discovery of a second specimen in which the crest was clearly visible it was renamed Dilophosaurus. The fossil evidence of Dilophosaurus indicate that the fossils found are probably from subadult individuals. It was discovered in the Kayenta Formation in Arizona. Dilophosaurus was a bipedal predator, and was probably a fast and agile runner. As several individuals were found together as fossils, there is some evidence that Dilophosaurus might have lived in social groups (however, this could have been attributed to other reasons as well, such as all having been swept away together in a flash flood.) It probably lived near river environments, allowing it to prey on a variety of organisms. It lived in the same environment as many other early dinosaurs, such as Megapnosaurus, Kayentavenator, Sarahsaurus, Scelidosaurus, and Scutellosaurus. It also lived in the same environment as the pterosaur Rhamphinion. Dilophosaurus remains have also been found in the Dharmaram Formation in Andhra Pradesh, India. This specimen shared its environment with a crocodilian, a sauropodomorph, and Lamplughsaura.
By Fraizer on @saint-nevermore
Dilophosaurus was a large predator, around seven meters long, and around the height of a person. It had a pair of rounded crests on its skull, which were most definitely used for display. A notch in its upper jawline allowed for Dilophosaurus to have an almost crocodile like mouth, similar to the later Spinosaurid dinosaurs. This could indicate that Dilophosaurus would occasionally prey on fish as well as terrestrial animals. There is no indication of sexual dimorphism in the species. The crest could have been used for attracting mates or intimidating other members of the social group, or it could have been used to distinguish separate species from one another. It grew rapidly, according to the bone structure. Trackways have been found that are attributed to Dilophosaurus, or at least a similar species, in Arizona, Poland, Sweden, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Furthermore, trackways in Massachusetts also have what appear to be feather imprints alongside the footprints, suggesting that Dilophosaurus - a still very early theropod - had feathers! (Or at least, a very early form of feathers). This would indicate that the evolution of feathers started very early in the dinosaur family tree, allowing for Archaeopteryx to be a real contender for one of the earliest birds.
By Leandra Walters, Phil Senter, James H. Robins, CC BY 2.5, from Wikipedia
Dilophosaurus is very well known in popular culture due to the Jurassic Park franchise. However, the film (and the book) got Dilophosaurus quite wrong. Dilophosaurus was, to begin with, much larger than the film Dilophosaurus; Dilophosaurus in the film was made much smaller than usual so as not to be confused with the Velociraptor. However, Velociraptor in real life was much smaller than in Jurassic Park, and Dilophosaurus was bigger. Furthermore, there is no fossil evidence that Dilophosaurus supported a neck frill, or that it could spit venom. However, many further pop culture depictions of dinosaurs depict Dilophosaurus with these features, creating a large misrepresentation of the animal, which is rather unfortunate.
Weishampel, D. B. (2007). The Dinosauria (2nd ed.). Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.
Dixon, D. (2007). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs. London, England: Anness Publishing.
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