“[John] Wetherill’s double-crested reptile”
Specimen Name: Ellen (female)
Specimen Height: 1.85 m
Specimen Length: 6.88 m
Specimen Weight: 399 kg
Dilophosaurus is one of the few pre-Upper Jurassic theropods to have any sort of cultural impact. Unfortunately, it is known for all the wrong reasons.
Nothing in the fossil record yet points to dilophosaurs having extendable frills or venom; the presence of either character is unlikely (I’d like to highlight that it’s not impossible, but very improbable). While I appreciate Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg’s attempts at making Dilophosaurus a unique animal (I especially laud their choices of color — Dilophosaurus had two prominent display crests for a reason, y’know?), most of the distinguishing characters can be written off as a by product of gene-splicing and other genetics tomfoolery. I think it’s rather unfortunate that the book and film ignore some of the animal’s true quirks that are actually reinforced by fossil evidence and comparative anatomy.
The strange notch between the premaxilla and maxilla is hypothesized to be indicative of fish-eating tendencies. Similar facial structures are found in other dinosaurs famous for heavily suggested aquatic lifestyles (spinosaurids). Dilophosaurus lived in floodplains that, at the height of the wet season, would see plentiful rivers and lakes stocked with fish and other small morsels (it was surely capable of taking invertebrates, smaller dinosaurs, small mammals, etc.).
Dilophosaurus was a contemporary to early and still-developing dinosaur taxa such as Sarahsaurus, Scelidosaurus, and Coelophysis, a foreshadowing of the later species that would flourish during the Upper Jurassic. Until the evolution of the more recognizable mega-theropods (such as Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, and Torvosaurus), this was the among the largest (known) theropods in its time.
It’s been a year (and change) since my last Dilophosaurus restoration (first image below).
Adjustments from then and now include:
- Refined feather cover (based on similarly-built theropods like Ornithomimus)
- Color palette overhaul; crests a warm color instead of cool (there are still blue accents)
- More active posture; Ellen’s presented in a threat display with open-mouth vocalizations (hissing)
- Overall lighter build
- Enhanced scale and feather textures
Ellen was born of about a month of sitting around and sketching in my spare time. I took four weeks off from digital art to get back to my roots and study structure, especially how muscles and ligaments attach around the base skeleton. I’m very happy with her, and I look forward to a more reinvigorated art strategy!
Also, I have a male (myself) and female (personal friend Kayla David) silhouette once again!