Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cryolophosaurus: The Dinosaur in the Freezer

When you looked at that picture, you probably didn't think much of the background.  You probably just glanced at the dinosaur.  Well take a closer look at that background.  Where do you think it is?  I'll give you a hint.  This is what that area looks like today:

If you guessed Antarctica, then you are 100% correct!  During the Mesozoic Era, or the time of the dinosaurs, Antarctica was a very different looking place.  It would definitely have been a bit nippy at times, but nowhere near as cold as it is today, and was more of a cool temperate biome!  Cryolophosaurus, meaning "Cold Crest Lizard" in Latin (and also the dinosaur in the first picture above), lived during the Early Jurassic Period, more than 180 million years ago.  As you can see on the map below, the world looked quite different than it does today! 

Interestingly, Cryolophosaurus was originally called "Elvisaurus," named such for the small crest that it has on its head, and its similarity to the swoop of hair that Elvis had on his own head.  I don't know why they changed the name, but if you ask me, Elvisaurus is a better name all around!

The inspiration for this post came from something that I saw Dr. Thomas Holtz, a famous paleontologist, share on Facebook the other day regarding Cryolophosaurus.  It was an incredibly interesting reconstruction, but I am not sure how factually based it is, given the dubious nature of the placement of the dinosaur.  Last I had heard, Cryolophosaurus was outside the given range of dinosaurs that had feathers, so I believe that it might have just been an artistic liberty on the part of the author!  Regardless, it was pretty cool looking, and I wanted to share!  

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