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it Is possible that the name of Dilophosaurus does not tell much, but you probably remember a scene from “Jurassic Park”, in which a small creature seemingly adorable turns into a beast of diabolical with a frill around the neck and two ridges on the head that spits venom. This dinosaur is part of our popular culture, but what we thought we know him by the films is pure imagination.

A new study conducted by paleontologists americans has conclusido that Dilophosaurus, far from being the lightweight predator similar to a lizard that was believed to be the largest land animal of its time, reached up to 6 metres long and had a lot in common with modern birds. The results are published in the “Journal of Paleontology”.

Dilophosaurus was much bigger and more powerful than the scientists, or the creators of movies, thought above – Brian Engh /The Saint George Dinosaur Discovery Site

Dilophosaurus lived about 183 million years ago during the Jurassic early. Despite the fame he has gained in the big screen, until now the scientists knew surprisingly little about their appearance or their place in the family tree. “It is practically the dinosaur best and the worst known,” says the lead author, Adam Marsh, a researcher from the University of Texas while conducting this work. “Until this study, nobody knew how it was Dilophosaurus, or how it evolved,” he says.

The study adds clarity to a research registry confusing that dates back to the first fossil Dilophosaurus was discovered, the specimen that set the standard for all the following discoveries about the species. That fossil was reconstructed with plaster, but the article from 1954 that describes the finding not even clear what it was that was being, a fact that makes it difficult to determine which part of the initial work was based on the fossil record is real.

The first descriptions characterize the dinosaur with a crest fragile and weak jaws, a description that influenced the representation of Dilophosaurus in the book “Jurassic Park” and the movie of the same name as a dinosaur slender than subjecting themselves to their prey with venom.

But Marsh found to the contrary. The jaws show signs of serving as scaffolds for mighty muscles. Also found that some of the bones were mottled with pockets of air, which would have helped to strengthen the skeleton, including its crest twice. “They are like a bubble wrap: the bone is protected and strengthened,” he says.

These air sacs are not exclusive Dilophosaurus. Modern birds and dinosaurs more massive of the world also have bones filled with air. In both cases, the alveoli thinners such the load, which helped large dinosaurs to handle their bulky bodies and the birds to fly.

The right rear leg of Dilophosaurus wetherilli – Matthew Brown, UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

Many birds use air sacs to perform other functions, since to inflate areas elastic of the skin during the mating rituals, to disperse the heat. The intricate array of air bags and tubes that extend from the sinus cavity of Dilophosaurus to the ridges means that the dinosaur could have performed similar heroic deeds with his strange headdress.

To learn more about how they compare fossils to each other, Marsh recorded hundreds of anatomical characteristics of each fossil. He then used an algorithm to see how the specimens were compared with the first fossil, which confirmed that they were in fact all Dilophosaurus. All the specimens examined by Marsh came from the Formation Kayenta in Arizona and belong to the reserve of the Navajo Nation.

The algorithm also revealed that there is a gap in evolutionary significant between Dilophosaurus and their closest relatives among the dinosaurs, indicating that there are probably still many other “family” for you to discover.