Cryolophosaurus was a genus of dinosaur belonging to the group of theropod dilophosaurid dinosaurs.

Discovered in Antarctica, it is considered to have existed during the Jurassic period, approximately 190 million years ago.

This genus would have had a striking appearance due to the peculiar structure it possessed, and it is not for less, since on its head it had a crest in the shape of a fan placed perpendicularly to its eyes.

The Cryolophosaurus was of medium size. The length of this dinosaur was approximately six and a half meters, while the height was four meters. As for its weight, it barely reached 500 kilograms.

Have you been left wanting more information about Cryolophosaurus? Keep reading because we have a lot to tell you about this carnivorous dinosaur from the Jurassic period!

Cryolophosaurus Taxonomy

  • This specimen belonged to the kingdom of Animalia.
  • The phylum on which it was classified is Chordata.
  • The class where we found it is Sauropsida.
  • Cryolophosaurus obviously belongs to the superorder Dinosauria.
  • The order in which it was included is Saurischia.
  • This animal belonged to the suborder Theropoda.
  • The clade or branch in which it is classified is Tetanuare.
  • The genus we are referring to is Cryolophosaurus.

Currently there is only one valid species of this genus of dinosaurs, it is Cryolophosaurus ellioti, however, it is important to mention that this situation could change if new fossil remains are found with enough differences to be considered the same genus but a different species.

For this reason, from this platform we will do our best to keep this information updated in case of any change.

Basic information about the Cryolophosaurus

Only one Cryolophosaurus specimen is known, so its exact characteristics are not yet known. However, by referring to the remains found we can determine the basic characteristics of this specimen:

  • How long was it? – This dinosaur was about 6.5 meters long.
  • How tall was it? – The height of this theropod dinosaur was 4 meters.
  • What was its weight? – The approximate weight of Cryolophosaurus was 465 kilograms.
  • When did it live? – It lived on Earth about 194-188 million years ago.

The brothers of Cryolophosaurus: the Tetanurae clade
As we have already observed, Cryolophosaurus belongs to the tetanus clade that includes a great majority of theropod dinosaurs, among others: megalosaurs, titanosaurs, allosaurs, ornithomids and maniraptoforms.

Within the theropods there are two well differentiated clades, the Ceratosaurs and the Tetanurs. It is estimated that they probably separated in the Late Triassic.

Tetanides belong to the order Saurisquia and are those that have some resemblance to modern birds, however, they go beyond a simple relationship with birds, they contain the theropod dinosaurs that are closely related to them.

The skull of the tetanus has two basic types of morphology.

  • The first is typical of the large theropods such as the Allosaurus. It consists of a skull that is three times longer than its height. It also has a blunt snout and horns or beaks along its lacrimals, nostrils and foreheads.
  • In the second type, the skull is lower and longer, with the upper part of the skull less elaborate and the muzzle more elongated.

Both types of tetanus, whatever the morphology of their skull, share the following characteristics:

  • The air ventilation system would not have had a pulmonary outlet, similar to that of modern birds.
  • An advanced and complex circulatory system.
  • Absence of the fourth finger, like modern birds.
  • Maxillary teeth anterior to the orbit.
  • A strap-shaped scapula.
  • Maxillary fenestrations.
  • A rigid tail.

Probably extinct in the late Early Jurassic due to competition from ceratosaurs and tyrannosaurs. However, the coelusoids persisted until the end of the Mesozoic Era.

Description of this dinosaur

The description of Cryolophosaurus is not known with total accuracy, this is because there is only one sample of this genus discovered.

From this sample it is estimated that this dinosaur would have been 6.5 meters long and approximately 4 meters high. Its weight was relatively little in relation to its dimensions, barely reaching half a ton.

The crest on its head and also its head was similar to that of the Allosaurus. The legs it had were quite agile to run and its short arms had some claws that they used to attack their prey. As for its tail, it was robust and quite thin.

This dinosaur would have had legs strong enough to support its relatively light body, which indicates that it would have been a bipedal animal, walking on its two hind legs.

Speaking of its skull, it measured about 65 cm and was provided with a ridge that was shaped like a fan, located just above its eyes and perpendicular to them.

We now know that this ridge is actually an extension of the bones in his head, but it was too fragile and was not used in combat, although it may have been used for mating rituals.

The life of Cryolophosaurus on planet Earth

To get into the temporal situation of the existence of this dinosaur, we should first make a little clear the time scale to which we are referring.

The fact is that these dinosaurs inhabited the earth in the Mesozoic Era; in fact, not only they, but all the dinosaurs inhabited our planet during that era, popularly called the Age of Dinosaurs.

The Mesozoic Era lasted approximately 186 million years, which is why the need to divide that era into Periods in order to be more precise was born.

Thus, this era is divided into three periods: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. The period of the Cryolophosaurus would be the Jurassic.

The Jurassic is the period that chronologically follows the Triassic, started 201 million years ago and lasted about 56 million years approximately.

This period is characterized by the separation of the continent Pangaea in two, Laurasia and Gondwana, in addition to the evident predominance of the great dinosaurs.

Within the Jurassic period, there are three temporal fragments: Lower or Early, Middle and Upper or Late. The existence of the Cryolophosaurus occurred during the Inferior fragment.

The Lower Jurassic is the first stage of the Jurassic, which began 201 million years ago and lasted about 25 million years. This period is characterized by the evolution of marine reptiles.

Heterodontosaurids and tetanus among many other dinosaur groups also appear.

This epoch is subdivided into four ages: Hettangian, Sinemurian, Pliensbachian and Toartian. The Age of Cryolophosaurus is the Pliensbachian.

The Pliensbachian Lower Jurassic is the penultimate Jurassic Age (before the Toarciense), began 190 million years ago and lasted approximately 8 million years.

Knowing this, Cryoplophosaurus can be classified within the Pliensbachian Lower Jurassic time scale. This is how paleontologists refer to the time in which this genus of dinosaurs lived.

This dinosaur, according to the references we have, would have lived in the Hanson Formation, in the continent of Antarctica. This formation belongs to the Victoria group located in the trans-Antarctic mountains, approximately 4000 meters above sea level.

In the Early Jurassic, obviously, what is Antarctica today was not an icy territory and was part of a rift volcano system formed by the Gondwana Rift. This area would have been full of forests.

The situation of Antarctica was much closer to the Equator and obviously much warmer than it is today, although we do have to take into account that it was a place where the climate was temperate.

In order to analyze the life of this dinosaur on our planet, we must talk about its functional characteristics, among them, it was mentioned that these dinosaurs were agile as they had relatively little weight and robust legs.

It should also be added that like most bipedal dinosaurs, they were predatory dinosaurs.

That is why the Cryolophosaurus would have fed on large herbivorous dinosaurs, for example, the prosaurus.

This dinosaur would have had sharp, backward-curved teeth, ensuring that the prey could not escape. Its weapon for attack was the same as that of the Tyrannosaurus rex, its powerful jaw.

The discovery of this dinosaur

The only sample that has been found was in 1990-1991 on Mount KirkPatrick of the Beardmore Glacier, belonging to the Transantarctic Mountains region.

The discovery of these remains is a credit to a professor at Augustana University named Hammer and his exploration team.

However, we should not discredit Elliot, who was the one who found the first remains, telling Hammer that after three weeks of work he managed to find about 100 fossil bones, including the Cryolophosaurus.

These fossils were found in the Hanson Formation, in a silica-rich sedimentary rock.

Both Hammer and Ohio State University geologist David Elliot were excavating in the same area in order to share logistical costs. That’s how they found Cryolophosaurus.

It is the first theropod discovered in Antarctica and the second dinosaur to be discovered in that area.

In 1994 these remains were described by Hammer and Hickerson, in the magazine Science. That’s when the world was able to learn more about this particular dinosaur.

Among the remains that have been found are part of a crushed skull, remains of a jaw, some parts of its spine (made up of 30 vertebrae), ilium, pubis, ischium, femur, fibula, ankle tibitars and also the metatarsals of the foot.

The most important part of a dinosaur is its skull. The skull provides more information to paleontologists about the dinosaur than most bones.
As indicated above, its complete skeleton has not been found and only the parts mentioned above, this is an incomplete finding but sufficient to obtain a basic description.

Curiosities about Cryolophosaurus

Knowing more about this genus of dinosaurs, it is time to complete the information with curiosities about them:

  • It’s nothing official, but this dinosaur has a peculiar and fairly widespread nickname, Elvisaurus. This is because its crest looks like that of the former rock star, Elvis Presley.
  • He would have lived in Antarctica, but without the cold weather. When he lived in what would become Antarctica, it was closer to the equator, with a temperate climate.
  • Going back 190 million years, Cryolophosaurus would have been one of the largest predatory dinosaurs in the world. At 20 feet long, it was quite large compared to its contemporaries.
  • Even though this dinosaur’s skull is thinner than other large theropods, it did have many other similarities with other theropods.
  • The fact that it had thick and light legs would have made it much faster than other larger theropods such as Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • It appears in a game in Jurassic Park, specifically in Warpath: Jurassic Park. It’s one of six blocked dinosaurs. It unlocks after the Triceratops and before the Albertosaurus. Here its attacks are fast but weak, in a comical way, it uses its crest to attack.