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The Dilophosaurus is a dinosaur that lived during the mid-Triassic period, and like many other dinosaurs in its time, it had a small head with large mouth & eyes. However, there was one major difference between this carnivorous dinosaur and most others; it had a comb on top of its head.
Description and Appearance
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The two crests on the Dilophosaurus head were made from keratin (the same material that makes up fingernails and rhino horns) and it stood upright like a modern-day rooster's comb. The crests on both the male and female Dilophosaurus were identical, but we're unsure of what their purpose was.
Some scientists believe that this type of dinosaur used its crest to attract mates, while others hypothesize that the crests were mainly used for display purposes during both social and territorial activities.
The Dilophosaurus had a long neck, with tiny arms ending in three fingers. It was an agile animal measuring about 11 feet (3.5 m) long, 6 feet (1.8 m) tall, and weighed about 200 pounds (90 kg).
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Two types of Dilophosaurus were identified in the middle to late Triassic period. One was nearly 6 feet tall with long hind legs & a short tail, while the other type had slightly longer limbs & a longer tail. The smaller species lived in Europe while its larger relative had a range that stretched from what is now Arizona to Brazil.
The Dilophosaurus was an extremely swift and agile animal, making it difficult for its prey (such as the iguanodon and the rauisuchus) to escape. One unique aspect of this dinosaur's hunting strategy is that it would wait until its prey was very close before attacking, disabling its victim by swinging its lethal tail.
The small arms of the Dilophosaurus were no use when it came to hunting, but they were useful for other purposes. They may have been used to grasp onto a female during mating sessions, or maybe the male would hold food in its claws while ripping off pieces with its sharp teeth.
Dilophosaurus was classified as carnivorous because all of its teeth were designed to tear meat and shred it in preparation for swallowing.
There was no information about whether or not the Dilophosaurus had a preference when it came to what kind of meat it ate, and we can only assume that they would have been opportunistic eaters based on evidence from other carnivorous dinosaurs. For example, the raptors would eat whatever was available, and some meat-eating dinosaurs had teeth that were far better suited to break bones than others.
There's very little information about the reproduction of the Dilophosaurus, such as its mating habits or if there was any kind of parental care after birth. The only scientific fact we know is that males and females both had crests on their heads.
The presence of a crest on top of its head may have been a way for this dinosaur to distinguish males from females, but this assumption is purely speculative. It's possible that the crests were there for completely different purposes, but it would have been difficult to adopt a mating strategy or care for young since they lived alongside each other in large herds.
Paleontologists are still trying to figure out what the crest on the Dilophosaurus was actually for, and there are a few theories that could help explain its purpose. The crests may have been used to attract mates during courtship rituals, or maybe the dinosaurs would show off their prized possession while protecting their turf from rivals. There's also a chance that both genders had similar crests; therefore it wouldn't be able to differentiate between the sexes.
The Dilophosaurus would have lived near rivers or lakes when it was young, then it would move into dryer areas after reaching adulthood. They probably had to migrate because they didn't have enough water in the arid desert to supply all of them with enough hydration to sustain life.
These dinosaurs lived in herds that numbered in the hundreds, which means that their natural habitat was very crowded and would have caused territorial disputes among each other. The crests may have been used as a way to distinguish between species when they were fighting for land, which is something that modern animals do when they get aggressive.
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The Dilophosaurus was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered in North America. The fossilized remains were found in Arizona during a 1940 expedition led by paleontologist Charles Camp, who also had another significant discovery with the Coelophysis.
The fossils that Dr. Camp uncovered belonged to several specimens of different ages, ranging from juveniles to adults. The oldest fossils were about 200 million years old, which would have made the Dilophosaurus one of the earliest members of the dinosaur family during prehistoric times.
The finding of several specimens belonging to different generations allowed scientists to understand how this creature developed throughout its life. Paleontologists initially thought that dinosaurs had rapid growth cycles with very little difference between juveniles and adults, but this was proven wrong when it became evident that each age group looked very different.
There are still a lot of questions about the Dilophosaurus that need to be answered. We're not sure what they ate, how they mated, or why the males had crests on their heads while the females didn't. Regardless of these unknowns, this is one of the most famous carnivorous dinosaurs in history because it was discovered at a time when paleontology was beginning as a field of science.
Along with the Stegosaurus and the Triceratops, the Dilophosaurus is now one of the most famous dinosaurs in North America. It's even more popular now that it has appeared in many different pieces of pop culture ranging from movies to video games. Even though there are still parts of its life that are unknown, scientists are continuing to unearth more fossils that could explain what life was like during prehistoric times.