Dinosaur: Getting to Know the Dilophosaurus

Not necessarily a familiar dinosaur name for many people, however the Dilophosaurus had a good role in the first Jurassic Park film. That’s right, Dilophosaurus was the small dinosaur that happily spat poison at the ultimate bad guy of the Park as he tried to steal Dinosaur DNA for personal gain. Whilst the film did a good job in providing a great image and personality to this dino, I’m afraid there isn’t anything from the fossil collections to suggest that Dilophosaurus did in fact spit poison.

Dilo, as we’re now going to refer to them, lived in the early Jurassic period, around 208 million to 194 million years ago. Fossil remains have been found in Arizona mainly and confirm that Dilo would have been a meat-eating dinosaur.

As the film suggested, Dilo had an unusual pair of highly arched crests on the top of its head. These crests may well have been colourful or even patterned. Experts believe Dilo’s may well have used these crests for display purposes in courtship, although a few individuals have suggested they may have been used as a signal deterrent against large carnivores of the time.

Fossil collections and multiple small fossilised footprint tracks, have lead individuals to believe that Dilo’s may well have had complex social behaviours which might have included herding and seeking out food together in an organised way.

A standout feature of the Dilo’s in the film Jurassic Park was the elaborate fan around their neck. The film indicated that they would raise the fan neck dressing when they were attacking or spitting poison at prey. Similarly to the poison position, which I stated earlier in this document, there is no evidence to suggest that they had a fanned neck.

Dilo’s had long slender teeth which were perched in their large head. Dilo’s skulls are considered large in relation to their body size. Experts have suggested that they would have lacked a strong bite due the fragile fossil remains and the skull proportions. The lack of bite power would indicate that Dilo’s were in fact scavengers which plucked at meat and used grasping hands and feet to tear the flesh rather than their jaws.

Dilophosaurus was an amazing dinosaur. Where this dino lacked size and power it made up for in unique features. There are a lot of fantastic images of Dilo in dinosaur books and on the intranet, however I always think the models from Safari and Bullyland are fantastic ways to see how amazing this dinosaur would have looked.


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