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10 Chilly Facts About Cryolophosaurus

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Dinosaurs once inhabited every continent and today, we’ll be strapping on our snowshoes to take a closer look at Antarctica’s dashiest species: Cryolophosaurus ellioti.

1. Cryolophosaurus Rocked some Offbeat Headgear.

This thing really cut an unusual profile. Generally, in theropod (aka “meat-eating”) dinosaurs, head crests run parallel to the sides of the skull. Yet rebellious Cryolophosaurus defies this trend. Like a fanning peacock tail, its curved crest faces forward. 

2. Cryolophosaurus has Earned the Nickname “Elvisaurus” for its Presley-Esque Crest.

And, like a hunka hunka burning love, Cryolophosaurus probably used that dazzling ornament to attract the opposite sex.

3. One Unfortunate Cryolophosaurus May Have Choked to Death on a Rib.

Wedged inside the throat of one large Cryolophosaurus skeleton is what appears to be an herbivorous dinosaur’s rib. Did the big carnivore fatally gag on that bone? Perhaps. On the other hand, a few scientists have argued that this rib belonged to the Cryolophosaurus itself and was maneuvered into such an awkward position post mortem.

4. Dinosaur Fossils Didn’t Show Up in Antarctica Until the 1980s.   

The South Pole finally yielded some dinosaur bones when the remains of an armored grazer were discovered on James Ross Island in 1986. However, this poor creature wouldn’t be given its official scientific name—Antarctopelta oliveroi—until 2006. Cryolophosaurus, meanwhile, was unearthed in 1991 and named in 1994. 

5. A Few Other Antarctic Dinos Have Since Come to Light.

Add little Trinisaura, long-necked Glacialisaurus and an unnamed giant herbivore  to this small-but-growing list.

6. Cryolophosaurus was Conspicuously Large for Its Time

One hundred and ninety million years ago, Cryolophosaurus ranked among the world’s biggest predatory dinosaurs, with an estimated length of over 20 feet. Truly huge varieties—like North America’s Allosaurus —wouldn’t start evolving until several million years later.

7. When Cryolophosaurus Lived, Antarctica Looked Quite Different.

Antarctica used to be significantly closer to the equator and even boasted its own forests. Also, the continent’s weather patterns were milder than those it currently withstands.

8. Scavengers Apparently Nibbled on One Specimen.

Some Cryolophosaurus bones have been found with nibble-like markings, possibly indicating that their owner became something’s dinner after kicking the bucket.

9. Cryolophosaurus Can Likely Tell Us a Great Deal About Dinosaurian Evolution.

As a primitive theropod from a region of the globe in which—until fairly recently—dinosaur fossils had never turned up, Cryolophosaurus seems rather promising to several paleontologists. At present, we’ve only got some incomplete cranial and skeletal material to go by. But if and when additional remains start emerging, who knows what surprises this creature might have in store for us?

10. A Recurring Character on PBS’ Dinosaur Train is Known as “King Cryolophosaurus.”

Does this guy’s singing voice remind you of a certain rock star we mentioned earlier? If so, the resemblance is probably 100 percent coincidental…

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Tyrannosaurus and Edmontosaurus, Ely Kish, c. 1976. © Canadian Museum of Nature
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10 Ways Artists Imagined Dinosaurs Before the 21st Century
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In paleoart, “the lines between entertainment and science, kitsch and scholarship, are often vague," Ford writes in the preface to Paleoart. "This book is like a twofold time machine from a science-fiction comic i would have loved as a child. It allows us to go back in time to see what going back in time used to look like.”

Tyrannosaurus and Edmontosaurus, Ely Kish, c. 1976. © Canadian Museum of Nature

Paleoart: Visions of the Prehistoric Past explores the first 160 years of illustrating extinct species.

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Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former World War II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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