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The Dilophosaurus Yawn

By Qilong
Dilophosaurus wetherilli is named for the explorer John Wetherill, whose nephew informed the fellows at the University of California's Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) of the finds of several specimens near Kayenta, Arizona in the then-Triassic near-Chinle rocks as they were known. Two skulls have been recovered and noted to date, but the first was in pretty terrible condition, while the second preserved a pair of crests. This gave Samuel P. Welles, then at the UCMP, the honor of naming one of the more famous of Jurassic Park dinosaurs Megalosaurus wetherilli (John Wetherill's great lizard), and then Dilophosaurus wetherilli (John Wetherill's two-crested lizard).

Here, the skulls are shown with jaws agape (left) and closed (right).
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PrehistoricDisney's avatar
I wonder how lips on this guy would look like.
mark0731's avatar
Still the old version here?
Do you think Dilophosaurus was a coelophysoid or a more derived neotheropod?
Ceratopsia's avatar
And may I use this for a drawing I'm  going to make? Again, I will give you full credit.
Ceratopsia's avatar
Would it be ok for me to use this skeletal in a clay model I'm making (I will fully credit you)
TheMeekWarrior's avatar
Love the jaws on these guys. Those teeth look wicked!! Nice illustration! :D
Fragillimus335's avatar
This may be the coolest hunk of bone ever evolved...
Qilong's avatar
It is pretty cool. Not as cool as oviraptorosaurs, though.
Megalosaurid's avatar
I imagine this carnivore as a slicer, impaling the prey with the teeth and then causing a blood loss, you dont need to have a strong maxillar connection to slice through the prey without holding it, it also possesed very powerful arms and legs that made it an efficient hunter.
Qilong's avatar
There is no evidence that Dilophosoaurus had "weak jaws." The muscle areas for jaw attachment haven't been analyzed, but side-profile leverage models done a LONG time ago suggested the bite force production was relatively low along the jaw, but efficient at the tips. A similar bite profile exists in other long-jawed animals, and isn't necessarily evidence of weak bites. That is, this model would be true of crocodilians, and they are clearly not "weak biters."

The issue of the teeth relevant to biting is mostly in their shape, in which they are efficient piercers with a slicing component, so they may be pressed into the flesh and then drawn through the flesh as the jaw pulls them out. This creates lacerating wounds with small nips, but we don't assume the nips are always small. The head is not an isolated object; it is attached to a neck and a body, and that alters how the head behaves with regards to prey. Like most theropods, Dilophosaurus probably restrained its prey using a combination of feet and hands, and used powerful neck muscles to tear and tear off chunks of food. Nipping bits, prolonged griping bites, and slicing lacerating bites are likely all employed.

It should also be noted that the teeth shown here are probably too long. They have too much of the root exposed, and the teeth are while narrow also much shorter normally. These teeth are slightly loose in the root. We assume therefore that the teeth would be closer in, and the jaw would also close a bit more, but I haven't corrected this.
Orionide5's avatar
"Weak-jawed," according to Jurassic Park. I see from those teeth that that would not have mattered one bit. Can I use this reconstruction?
Qilong's avatar
That depends; I am trying to make money off of the illustration, though no one is biting. You can, for instance, look at the print options on DA or at redbubble - [link]. Otherwise, use (personally) might have to be optioned ... or if you wish to do this commercially, with a license to me. The illustration IS covered by CC BY-NC-ND, so it really will depend on what you intend to do with it.
Kazuma27's avatar
One of my favorite dinosaurs, that's for sure ;)
Qilong's avatar
It's a fun one! It's the crests, I'm sure ;)
Kazuma27's avatar
... Or that gnarly grin ;)
DOTB18's avatar
Didn't it have a small "spike" at the back end of the crest?
Qilong's avatar
There's something about the preservation that appears to suggest it, but it also seems likely to be an artifact of an incomplete crest margin. In other words, the "spike" is real, but is based on an incomplete rim of the crest, so that when the crest is "complete" it may not actually exist, as I've reconstructed the skull. There is really no analogue to having such a "spike," but if I'm wrong it's not that difficult to fix this.
bensen-daniel's avatar
Any thoughts on the uses of those long upper teeth?
Qilong's avatar
Not exactly piercing teeth. These teeth are labiolingually compressed, and are quite thin. So while they are long, they are not exactly broad like piscivore teeth. Low aspect teeth like these should reflect penetration-focused slicing teeth, much like sabretooth canines, so imagine a row of "sabreteeth" and you might get a good idea on the jaw function involved. But that's off the top of my head.
bensen-daniel's avatar
So like GSP described in Predatory Dinosaurs: the teeth inflict a lot of damage, so the animal can sit back and wait for the prey to bleed to death?
Qilong's avatar
No. I am being necessarily vague here, because I will eventually disucss how the teeth work on my blog. Needless to say, the teeth are VERY effective in inflicting long gaping wounds like teeth in Allosaurus. They simply do so in a different manner. GSP argued his case because he thought the jaws were weak, somehow requiring a nip and go bite as in varanids like the Komodo, but the jaws are very, very different indeed.
bensen-daniel's avatar
:) okay, I'll wait for the blog
Eurwentala's avatar
Those are some damn scary fangs. I hadn't realized they were actually this long. Thanks for the inspiration - I think I'm drawing a Dilophosaurus next.
ZEGH8578's avatar
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