Dilophosaurus “venenifer” (L/M)

Dilophosaurus, with a name meaning “double-crested reptile,” is a small to medium-sized species of theropod dinosaur in the family Dilophosauridae. It lived 193 million years ago, during the Sinemurian stage of the Early Jurassic. Three skeletons of this animal were discovered in the Kayenta Formation of Navajo County, Arizona in 1940, and two skeletons of excellent quality were found by Jesse Williams in 1942. Paleontologist Samuel P. Welles named it Megalosaurus wetherilli in 1954; the specific epithet honors Navajo councilor John Wetherill. In 1964, a more complete skeleton was discovered, including the skull. With the signature pair of crests now known to science, Welles assigned this species to a new genus, Dilophosaurus, in 1970.

The family to which this animal belongs, Dilophosauridae, includes a number of early theropods such as Cryolophosaurus, Dracovenator, and Zupaysaurus. Fossils of Dilophosaurus include specimens of varying completeness and ages; at least one fossil consisting of scattered fragments is believed to come from an infant. Fossilized footprints have been attributed to Dilophosaurus, giving some insight into how it moved.

There is currently only one known species of Dilophosaurus in the fossil record. A second species, Dilophosaurus sinensis, was named in 1993, but was later found to be the same as a previously-known species called Sinosaurus triassicus.

International Genetic Technologies succeeded in cloning Dilophosaurus from prehistoric amber sometime between 1991 and 1993. The specimens InGen created possess an atypically large number of phenotypic anomalies, believed to be a result of gene splicing. While the InGen IntraNet website identifies the specimens as D. wetherilli, Jurassic-Pedia has assigned a new specific epithet to distinguish InGen’s specimens from those known from the fossil record. InGen specimens are classified herein as Dilophosaurus venenifer, the specific epithet meaning “venom-bearing.” In common parlance, D. venenifer are sometimes referred to as “spitters” or “dilos.”

Description

Dilophosaurus reached a length of 6 meters (20 feet) in adulthood, with a hip height of around 1.8 meters (6 feet) and a weight of 454 kilograms (1,000 pounds). This makes it a small or medium-sized theropod, but for the time period in which it lived, it was quite large. Around half its length consists of its lengthy, somewhat flexible tail. All parts of its body are slender, giving it a build suited for agile movement. However, D. venenifer is slightly smaller and heavier than D. wetherilli, which can reach 7 meters (23 feet) in length and is estimated to weigh around 400 kilograms (880 pounds).

It has strong legs, with very large thigh bones and long, stout feet. Three of the toes bear large claws, with the first toe (or hallux) being much smaller and raised off the ground. All of these features give it a considerable running speed of 30 miles per hour, and enable it to travel with an unusual hopping gait as well as more conventional running. Like nearly all theropods, it is a biped. Dilophosaurus is very nimble due to its lightweight frame and strong legs.

The arms of this dinosaur are lanky but strong, like its legs. The hands have four digits, including an opposable thumb. The thumb is short, but bears a powerful claw; the next two fingers are longer and thinner, with smaller claws. Its fourth finger is vestigial, serving no functional purpose; this appears to have been lost entirely in D. venenifer. Its arms are designed for grasping; along with the feet, they are used for capturing prey. The wrists of this theropod are pronated, like most InGen theropod specimens but unlike those in the fossil record.

Of course, the most distinctive feature of this dinosaur is its skull, placed on the end of a relatively long and slender neck. Dilophosaurus is characterized by its pair of thin plate-shaped lateral crests, which form a V-shape when viewed from the front. They are semicircular, each with a small pointed prong on the back, and constitute up to half the height of the skull; they are larger in some D. venenifer than in fossil specimens of D. wetherilli. The jaws are large, filled with thirty sharp, serrated teeth. Larger teeth are situated in the back, with smaller ones at the front. These are not as robust as in later, larger theropods, but are not as fragile as commonly assumed; they would be replaced throughout life. Its upper jaw possessed a gap or “kink” just below the nostril, which is much smaller in D. venenifer than in fossils, but not absent. The jaws are narrow in the front and wider in the back. The tongue is long and triangular, and the nostrils and eyes both face forward.

Several anatomical features are present on the head of D. venenifer which are not known from any fossil specimens. These include an extendable cowl or frill around the neck similar to that of the frill-necked lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii), which is supported by cartilaginous rods attached to the neck. This normally lies retracted flat against the neck, but can be unfurled by the animal and flushed with color. When unfurled, the cowl has a diameter that easily more than triples the width of the head, and bears a serrated edge. Muscles on the throat permit the cowl to be vibrated when extended. A second feature of D. venenifer not present in D. wetherilli is a set of venom glands. Dark-colored venom is squeezed out from underneath the tongue and expelled at high speed from the mouth, striking with reasonable accuracy at distances of fifteen to twenty feet (up to six meters). While soft-tissue features such as these would not fossilize, InGen scientists believe that the cowl and venom glands are an unintended result of genetic engineering. Splicing errors during its initial creation, or formerly latent genes from the frog species used as gene donors, may have resulted in some of these traits.

The natural coloration of this animal is a sandy tan color, though later GEN 1 specimens instead show a yellow-greenish hue instead with slightly darker vertical stripes. Earlier specimens have darker crests and lighter cowls, while GEN 1 possesses slightly reddish crests and a vibrantly colored cowl. This is bright yellow with red helix markings and a black fringe. In the GEN 2 lineage, the base color is dark gray with a pale yellow stripe down each flank, running from the neck to the tail; its cowl is a duller yellow and fades to black near the top. All specimens show countershading, with the underbelly lighter than the rest of the body, and in all cases the cowl is not visible when folded up. It flushes with color as it is unfurled.

Growth

Like many baby animals, the young Dilophosaurus has a proportionally larger head in relation to its body size, though this is not so extreme as to make the young less agile. The cowl does not develop until adolescence; while the very young juveniles still go through the motions of the adults’ intimidation display, the cowl is not present to unfurl. Even without adult guidance, Dilophosaurus is instinctively able to use its cowl once it grows out during the adolescent stage. It is also capable of spitting venom even if reared without others of its kind.

Artificial Evolution

As once of the earliest animals created by InGen, Dilophosaurus has been used in artificial evolution experiments since the 1990s. It is already heavily altered by genetic engineering, meaning its genome differed from the original animal from the beginning. Early experiments performed in the 1990s showed that its evolution favored brighter coloration and increased physical strength, traits that were universally favored in all cases. Generations of evolved Dilophosaurus developed vibrant coloration, with grass green hues dominating the main body. Black and orange striping developed on the dorsal side, becoming the dominant color pattern of the tail, while the cowl developed a bright pumpkin-orange color with a black edge. The crests and sub-orbital regions showed lighter orange colors.

Experimentation was carried out again in 2015 by Dr. Henry Wu, this time with an increased capacity for anatomical changes. Evolved Dilophosaurus in these experiments still showed a trend toward increased strength and brighter coloration, but the color changes in this case were strongly yellow and orange with interspersed black patterning. The crests increased in height, becoming almost twice as tall and with exaggerated prongs on the tips. The cowl of the most derived generation is more serrated around the fringe than the original form, with a concentric pattern of colors; the inner half is orange, with a black zigzag dividing it from the outer yellow region. The fringe of the cowl is also black and possesses a set of six stiffened and elongated spines on either side, which may be keratinous or cartilaginous in nature. These features suggest that its evolution trends toward more dramatic social displays. Some of the alterations were due to gene inclusions from other organisms, which have not yet been identified, though Dromaeosaurus has been suggested as a possible source.

Statistics: GEN 1
Jurassic Park: Builder

Rarity: Bronze

Creation Cost: 600 Coins

Profit (Max Level): 1,390/15min

Health (Max Level): 216

Attack (Max Level): 27-165

Ferocity (Max Level): 22

Jurassic World: The Game

Rarity: Rare

DNA Cost: 690

Profit (Max Level): 15,898/30min

Health (Max Level): 396

Attack (Max Level): 151

Jurassic World Alive

Rarity: Rare

Health (At Creation): 1413

Attack (At Creation): 452

Speed: 124

Defense: 0%

Critical Chance: 5%

Statistics: GEN 2
Jurassic World Alive

Rarity: Common

Health (At Creation): 797

Attack (At Creation): 325

Speed: 121

Defense: 0%

Critical Chance: 5%

Biology
Habitat

This animal prefers life in wooded areas, since its natural color comes in tan shades which would help it blend in with bark and leaf litter. It was one of the species that survived the abandonment of the original Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, and up through the late 1990s its calls could often be heard in the island’s jungles. As it is an active animal, it prefers a more complex environment with structures such as rock piles that it can climb and hop on. Populations of this animal could be found on Isla Sorna through much of InGen’s history. Today, it has become distributed globally, and it is found in forests and grasslands the world over. GEN 2 is more common than the original GEN 1, suggesting that it is more adaptable.

Diet

Dilophosaurus is a carnivore that hunts prey by ambush and attacks using its paralytic venomous spit, which can strike with accuracy at up to twenty feet, and its lanky but strong clawed arms and legs. It is less likely to bite prey, though it can do this if it finds itself in close quarters. Dilophosaurus will usually use its cowl to signal during hunts, even if it is solitary; the cowl is flared just before an attack, which causes the prey to look directly at the predator. In most predators, this would be foolish, as it would give away the hunter’s location and ruin the ambush. However, in Dilophosaurus, getting the prey’s undivided attention means that the dilophosaur has a clear shot at the prey’s eyes.

In captivity, it can be successfully raised on a diet of prepared meat, but it is still common to feed them live prey. Goats are sufficient for this purpose. When it attacks, it may start to eat the prey before it dies.

Social Behavior

While the cowl is not a natural feature in the ancestral Dilophosaurus, it has integrated remarkably well into the new animal’s biology. Such a structure suggests that the dilophosaur has a sophisticated social life and uses visual signalling to interact with others of its kind.

Reproduction

This animal has a fairly short incubation time, allowing several to be hatched over the course of a day. Like all dinosaurs, it hatches from eggs, which are laid on the ground and can be safely left uncovered in tropical environments. It can be reared by hand, but juveniles show signs of independence from a fairly early age.

Ecology

The Dilophosaurus is more reclusive than some other carnivores, preferring to live in forests where it can ambush prey with success. Its smaller size makes it a potential target for bigger hunters than itself, another reason for it to remain hidden if possible. Dilophosaurus shows signs of curiosity about its environment and is an adaptable survivor; it uses its venom to defend itself as well as take down prey animals. GEN 2 is more common than GEN 1, although it is not quite as strong, likely because its more subdued color gives it better camouflage in the forests it inhabits.

Relationship to Humans

Dilophosaurus was one of the first animals to be bred for Jurassic Park when it reopened in the late 1990s, although surviving populations existed in the untamed parts of the jungle. It was, at that time, one of the first theropods that park managers would breed, as well as the first to be put through artificial evolution and combat training later on. Today, it is less available; park managers in Jurassic World may not have access to its genome until slightly later in their careers. GEN 2 is common enough in forests around the world, so it may be encountered by Dinosaur Protection Group members with frequency; GEN 1 is still rare, and less easily spotted. Its genome lends itself to hybridization easily: it has been used to engineer Diloracheirus, Tyrannolophosaurus, Diloranosaurus, and Dilophoboa. The latter two hybrids were engineered using GEN 2 genes.

Although it is not a particularly well-known dinosaur, Dilophosaurus makes a popular attraction in de-extinction parks because of its unique appearance. For the same reason, it is also used as a common example of how genetic engineering can alter the physiology of a species, which may be why this animal is used in so many hybrid genomes. Despite its fierce behaviors, Dilophosaurus may enjoy being petted by its caretaker and likes being stroked on its head and neck. It is not terribly difficult to contain, and can be kept entertained using toys that allow it to practice its hunting behaviors.

Since this was one of the species present in the original Jurassic Park, it was of concern to Dr. Henry Wu during 2015’s Project Ares. Older Dilophosaurus were used as surrogate parents for the new generation, and some of them carried harmful DNA inclusions that reduced their lifespans and overall health. Specimens carrying these genes were classified as Legacy assets and were treated to sterilization, ending their bloodlines.

Combat Guides
Jurassic Park

As one of the earliest dinosaurs tested for combat, Dilophosaurus was frequently the first theropod added to a park manager’s roster. With a more ferocious nature than Triceratops, this quick and nimble dinosaur lent itself well to combat practices. Its jaws, while not exceptionally strong, can still be used to make rapid nipping attacks, while its long tail can be used to swat at lightweight enemies. Dilophosaurus is sure on its feet, but can be knocked over by charging attacks; its fragile frame makes it vulnerable. The crests are far too thin to be used as weapons, but it is still able to charge enemies if need be. However, its strongest combat tactic by far is to use its venomous spit, which deals far more damage than any of its physical attacks.

Even with its venom, the delicate physique of Dilophosaurus made it a less ideal combat animal when compared to species that could be accessed later. As a result, once most park managers obtained more powerful creatures, Dilophosaurus fell out of favor.

Jurassic World

Specimens bred for Jurassic World show generally greater strength than those in Jurassic Park, so this animal has considerably more use in combat than its earlier brethren. It is one of several carnivores classified as “rare” based on its DNA cost and overall strength, so it cannot be obtained immediately in a park manager’s career, but is still accessible fairly early. Dilophosaurus makes great use of its claws in battle, leaping onto and scrabbling at enemies. Its predatory adaptations make it suitable to bring down herbivorous animals.

Dilophosaurus is useful for early and mid-career park managers, but as with its ancestors, it usually falls to the wayside once more powerful theropods are created. It is not even a particularly strong member of the rare class of creatures, so it is often treated as a backup animal in combat exercises that require the use of members of this rarity bracket.

Dinosaur Protection Group

In the modern world, there are two genetic lineages of Dilophosaurus, the rare GEN 1 and the more common GEN 2 which developed in recent times. Both are often utilized by trainers for their speed and agility, with their claws and teeth making them respectable brawlers. Modern training methods allow even the weaker GEN 2 to become quite strong, though it is still outclassed by yet more formidable animals.

Both lineages are skilled in two particular combat techniques: nullification and distraction. The venomous spit of Dilophosaurus is useful in the latter, as its stinging, paralytic toxins can hinder a target’s ability to fight. GEN 2 has an additional related benefit; its biology allows it to ignore distracting effects, keeping its focus and consistently attacking with the same vigor. It also makes an intimidating display upon entering battle, distracting its enemy and thus reducing the strength of the oncoming attack. Nullification attacks can be performed by both lineages, with the dilophosaur using its tactical intelligence to negate other animals’ strategic advantages.

Disambiguation Links

Dilophosaurus “venenifer” (S/F)

Dilophosaurus “venenifer” (SF-Ride)

Dilophosaurus wetherilli “venenifer” (*) (JN)

Dilophosaurus wetherilli “venenifer” (*) (C/N)

Dilophosaurus “venenifer” (CB-Topps)