In 1991, fossils of a previously unknown dinosaur species were found at a height of 13,000 feet (4,000 meters), near the summit of Mount Kirkpatrick in Antarctica. Cryolophosaurus ellioti had awaken after a long sleep. The creature's remains were located only 400 miles (650 kilometers) from the South Pole. Studies showed that it lived 170 million years ago, when Antarctica had a climate similar to that of Pacific Northwest — mild enough to support large plant-eating animal life, upon which the Cryolophosaurus preyed.
Antarctica did not get cold until 40 million years ago, and previous to this time, the Earth is believed to have been an average of 10 degrees warmer. Also, evidence tells us that the first Antarctic ice sheets appeared about 35 million years ago.
Cryo was about 22 feet (7 meters) long, stood at least 12 feet (4 meters) high and swiftly hunted its prey, racing on two hind legs and tearing its victim apart with massive jaws that lined its more than two-foot long skull. It has the distinction of being the only meat-eating dinosaur found on the continent to walk semi-upright on its back legs. This Cryo had attacked a 25-foot plant-eating dinosaur in a what was then a riverbed, but the carnivore got part of a leg jammed in his throat and died. Both creatures then became sustenance for smaller scavenging dinosaurs, leaving their teeth marks (as well as a few teeth) in Cryo's legs.
The new creature was officially named and described in 1994 by William R. Hammer and William J. Hickerson, in the journal Science. The name Cryolophosaurus comes from the Greek kryos (meaning "cold" or "frozen"), lophos (meaning "crest") and sauros (meaning "lizard" or "reptile"). The ellioti comes from geologist David Elliot, who discovered the bones while doing lava flow work in the area; he then alerted Dr. Hammer's team of scientists. The name does not reflect the weather in Antarctica today, but the relatively cool type of weather during the era in which the dinosaur lived.
Text: Glenn M. Stein, FRGS
Reseach Casting International (skull)
Bill Stout (painting)
Copyright 2006 Glenn M. Stein, FRGS
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Friday, 19 January 2007 08:09
Cryolophosaurus ellioti: Antarctic dinosaurWritten by Glenn Stein
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Comment Link Tuesday, 30 November 1999 00:00 posted by Tom Schroeder
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