Dilophosaurus – less of a frilly, venom-spitting lizard than we thought

When people think of the Mesozoic, most people think of dinosaurs. Rightfully so: dinosaurs were major components of terrestrial ecosystems for almost all of the Mesozoic. Dinosaurs are charismatic; people are naturally fascinated by them, especially iconic taxa like Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Ankylosaurus. One of the big questions in dinosaur paleontology, however, is what allowed this successful increase in diversity and body size throughout their reign. We know from the global fossil record that the Triassic was a time of odd archosauromorphs living alongside small and relatively rare dinosaurs. We know that by the middle of the Jurassic Period these large diverse, dinosaur-dominated assemblages were in place. What happened in between? How did the small theropod dinosaurs of the Late Triassic become the large dominant predators of the Jurassic? The Early Jurassic terrestrial fossil record is sparse but there is one animal that can help: Dilophosaurus wetherilli. On Friday, 10/16/15, Adam Marsh, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, gave a talk about his research on this animal. His research and a history of the animal itself are given here. —> Read More