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CRYOLOPHOSAURUS

a meat-eating dilophosaurid theropod dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Antarctica.
cryolophosaurus.png
Pronunciation: cry-o-LOAF-o-SOR-us
Meaning: Frozen crested lizard
Author/s: Hammer and Hickerson (1994)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Beardmore, Antarctica
Chart Position: 321

Cryolophosaurus ellioti

You can be forgiven for assuming that Antarctic dinosaurs would need a nice woolly coat to stand any chance of surviving the harsh wintery conditions. But back in Jurassic times, before the break-up of Gondwana, Antarctica was six hundred miles or so closer to the equator, and while no tropical paradise it was a damn sight warmer than it is today. Foliage flourished, foliage eating herbivores flourished, and herbivore eating carnivores flourished. Cryolophosaurus was one such carnivore.

At one point informally known as "Elvisaurus" due to the resemblance of its crest to Elvis Presley's fancy-dan "pompadour" hairdo, Cryolophosaurus has led paleontologists a merry dance because of a weird combination of primitive and advanced characteristics. Its thigh has traits of early ceratosaurs, its ankle is fused like most ceratosaurs and abelisaurids, its hip is megalosauroid-grade, and its deep narrow skull resembles much later-living tetanurans like North America's Allosaurus. Hammer and co. mused that perhaps it was a weird early ceratosaur sporting features of some large later-living tetanurans, or an earlier large tetanuran with some primitive features, or maybe an archaic abelisaurid, but later analyses came to a different conclusion.

In 2007, Nathan Smith suggested that Cryolophosaurus may form a clade of medium sized theropods close to both the Neoceratosauria ("new ceratosaurs") and Tetanurae ("stiff tails") along with Dilophosaurus and Dracovenator. All research since has failed to find robust support for this clade, informally known as "Dilophosauridae", but whatever family Cryolophosaurus turns out to belong to it's currently the largest known Early Jurassic theropod of any stamp, and the only known specimen is not fully grown.

Although Antarctopelta was the first dinosaur to be discovered on Antarctica, it took so long to excavate and describe that Cryolophosaurus was found half a decade later, took William Hammer two seasons to literally jack-hammer out of the ice, and still won the "first officially named Antarctic dinosaur" title by some twelve years. Apparently its skull was smashed by shifting glaciers long before William and Jack arrived.
(David Elliot's Frozen Crest)Etymology
Cryolophosaurus is derived from the Greek "kryos" (cold, frozen), "lophos" (crest) and "sauros" (lizard) referring to the freezing conditions under which it was extracted and to its unusual crest. The species epithet, ellioti, honors Ohio geologist David Elliot who made the initial discovery.
Discovery
The remains of Cryolophosaurus were discovered in the Hanson Formation (formerly the upper Falla Formation), 4,100 meters up Mount Kirkpatrick, Queen Alexandra Range, in 1990-91, alongside Glacialisaurus, a small pterosaur, a rat-sized tritylodont, and an as-yet unidentified theropod. Fossilized tree trunks lay two meters away.
The holotype (FMNH PR1821) includes a partially-crushed skull, a jaw bone (mandible), parts of the backbone (30 vertebrae), hip bones (the ilium, ischium, and pubis), leg bones (femur and fibula), an ankle bone (tibiotarsus) and foot bones (metatarsals).
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Jurassic
Stage: Pliensbachian
Age range: 189-183 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 6 meters
Est. max. hip height: 2.5 meters
Est. max. weight: 650 Kg
Diet: Carnivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Saurischia
Theropoda
Neotheropoda
Dilophosauridae
Cryolophosaurus
ellioti
References
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "CRYOLOPHOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 29th Apr 2017.
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