Dilophosaurus has had no such luck. There are some genera that seem destined to always languish halfway in obscurity, and for a long time it seemed like Dilophosaurus would be one of them. Seldom given pride of place in vintage dinosaur art, often relegated to a simple head portrait in a collection of other theropods, Dilophosaurus managed to escape the sheer volume of trash reconstructions other animals accumulated simply by not being notable enough for most artists to butcher. Most reconstructions slapped the distinctive crests on a generic predatory dinosaur and called it a day.
|Crash McCreery's Jurassic Park studies of Dilophosaurus, from the Stan Winston Studio|
|Concept art of a crested...thing from Turok|
That vagueness wasn't helped by the fact that Dilophosaurus never really got another chance at the limelight. It has yet to appear in another film besides Jurassic Park, and in a franchise that built such spectacular set pieces out of T.rex and Velociraptor, it was badly overshadowed. And when an animal as interesting and distinctive as Dilophosaurus has fewer screen appearances then Procompsognathus, of all things, then something has gone very wrong.
The truth is, even a quick glance at the skeleton of Dilophosaurus reveals a rather elegant and slender animal. Far from the muscular and boxy beasts of pop culture, Dilophosaurus is a sporty looking predator, long-tailed, long-legged and long-jawed, built with economy and class. Streamlined. No frills, you might say. The design work on Jurassic Park is like adding giant fins and spinning rims to a Ferrari; it punches up an animal that frankly doesn't need it.
|A Polish sculpture of Dilophosaurus|
Moreover, Dilophosaurus is an opportunity for mass media to present a kind of dinosaur they've traditionally had trouble portraying. Most theropods that make their way onto television and film are sold as either giant super-predators or viciously personal threats. Dilophosaurus, at about twenty feet long, is something different. A mid-range predator, large enough to be impressive, small enough that it seems to belong within a natural environment. To look at a Tyrannosaurus is to see a monster. To look at a Dilophosaurus is to see an animal.
|The recent Sideshow model sculpted by Jorge Blanco is a top notch rendition.|
To me, the very things that make the unencumbered Dilophosaurus a tough sell are the things that make it interesting. Popular renditions of dinosaurs are still struggling to free themselves from the monstrous idioms of the past: it's still hard to present dinosaurs as animals and not dragons. But if artists and producers can trust to the essential aesthetics of the real creature, they might be surprised at how rewarding the results can be.