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10 Dinosaurs with Head Crests That are Fun to Learn About

Three parasaurolophus stand on a rock beach. Pterasaurs fly ove

Source by: Daniel

Dinosaurs with head crests are quite the head-turners. People’s heads can’t help but turn at the sight of these creatures’ head ornaments.

This fun resource we made about dinosaurs with crests will show different kinds of species that sported the look and help answer why they had crests too. It’s like a prehistoric picture book of dinosaurs you’ll have fun learning about.

You can even search this article for new dinosaur costume looks. These dinos will help you create a unique concept for sure! If you like the sound of that, let’s start learning!

#1 Corythosaurus

skeleton of a large dinosaur with a large curved set of bones on its head

Source by: James Tiffin Jr

What dinosaur looks like a cross between a cassowary and a Greek soldier’s helmet? A lot of other dinosaurs with crests may come to mind but the Corythosaurus is the best answer.

The Dinosaur Called “The Helmet Lizard”

dinosaur skull with a large high crest on its head and a long snout

Source by: Daderot

The Corythosaurus has a crest on its head similar to the cassowary, a bird native to Australia and New Guinea. It also brings to mind a Corinthian soldier’s helmet that had an egg-like shape on the part that covered the hair.

It’s a unique look that gave this Cretaceous dinosaur its name which means “helmet lizard”.

A Heavy-Weight Champion Dinosaur

Corythosaurus fossil

Source by: David Minty

Did you know the Corythosaurus is one of the heaviest and biggest duck-billed dinosaurs there are? It’s estimated to weigh as heavy as 7,640 lbs and as long as 27 feet!

That’s larger than most hadrosaurs. It’s second only to the Shantungosaurus which weighs 32,000 lbs and another heavy-weight dinosaur, the Parasaurolophus, which weighs around 5,000 lbs.

The Corythosaurus' Crest Function

illustration of orange and yellow-crested dinosaurs in the background surrounded by a forest

Source by: ABelov2014

Paleontologists believe the Corythosaurus may have used its crest to communicate with others of its kind. It’s estimated to have made sounds with low frequencies when doing so.

Here are three possible reasons for their communication:

  • warn others of threats
  • alert them of food they found
  • or attract a mate

#2 Cryolophosaurus

large dinosaur skeleton with a pompadour-like crest on its head

Source by: MWAK

Have you ever seen dinosaurs with crests that looked like Elvis’ famous hair? The Cryolophosaurus was one such species as their crests began from their noses, ran over their eyes, and fanned out just behind.

That’s what gave it its nickname, “Elvisaurus”. But there’s more to this cool dinosaur than rocking a pompadour style. Here are a few more fun facts.

The Cold Crest Lizard

a rocky mountain range with a large land of snow at the bottom

Source by: Hannes Grobe

The Cryolophosaurus was found in one of the world’s most freezing locations — Antarctica. A geologist named David Elliot found it remains in Antarctica’s Mount Kirkpatrick during the summer of 1990 to 1991.

The fossil’s location and the dinosaur’s unique crest inspired the Cryolophosaurus’ name. Here’s a breakdown of what the combined Greek words mean:

  • Cryo – cold
  • Lophos – crest
  • Saurus – lizard

The Coolest & Largest Early Jurassic Dinosaur

close-up shot of a dinosaur skull with fanned-out crest on its head

Source by: Jamain

Did you know a young Cryolophosaurus can weigh up to a thousand pounds? It can grow to lengths reaching 21 feet too!

No wonder paleontologists describe it as one of Antarctica’s best predators 201 million years ago. It’s got just the right built for overpowering prey.

Another cool fact is how the Cryolophosaurus is the first meat-eating dinosaur found in Antarctica. It’s also just the second dinosaur discovered there too. It comes second to an ankylosaurid dinosaur named Antarctopelta.

The Cryolophosaurus' Crest Function

a close-up shot of a brown crested dinosaur model’s head with a screen in the background

Source by: Eden

Paleontologists suggest that they were used for intra-species recognition. It means these dinosaurs used them to identify or distinguish members of the same species. They go on to share that the crests were probably used during seasons of mating.

#3 Dilophosaurus

model of a double-crested dinosaur with down-like coating on its body on display at a museum

Source by: Hiuppo

The Dilophosaurus makes dino head accessories even cooler as it’s a dinosaur with a double head crest. Scientists suggest that it may have used its crest to regulate body heat or identify other members of its species.

Additionally, this Early Jurassic dinosaur was one of North America’s big predators. It’s also one of the land’s biggest animals at the time it was alive. Pretty cool if it were a Dilophosaurus dinosaur costume, right?

Check out these facts to get to know this amazing creature more.

The Two-Crested Lizard

a skeleton of a dinosaur with a double crest on a white background

Source by: Matteo De Stefano

It’s surprising to discover crests on a dinosaur and even more so when two are found on one just like the Dilophosaurus. Paleontologist Samuel Welles, the one who described the dinosaur, said it was like finding “wings on a worm”.  

He coined the dinosaur’s name from the two crests he found on the skull. The double crest was nearly missed out as the left side was mistaken as simply the skull’s left side. Here’s a breakdown of what its name means:

  • Di – Greek for two
  • Lophos – crest
  • Saurus – lizard

Dilophosaurus in Reality VS Jurassic Park

a blue dinosaur with a double red crests side the grass

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

Did you know the venom-spitting frilled dinosaur in Jurassic Park was inspired by the Dilophosaurus? It was reimagined by author Michael Crichton as having poisonous spit and frills to explain how the dinosaur killed prey because it had weak jaws.

But it’s far from what it may have been in reality.

Paleontologists say that the Dilophosaurus most likely didn’t have a frill as there’s no fossil evidence of it yet. The same thing goes for spitting venom.

An article by Matthew Brown in Scientific American says that what’s more likely was that the Dilophosaurus was an apex predator. It hunted prey using its bone-crushing jaws. High metabolic rates give it the ability to be fast and agile too, making the Dilophosaurus a predator to be reckoned with.

#4 Hadrosaur

a skeleton of a dinosaur skull with a crest on display

Source by: Robin Zebrowski

Hadrosaurs are a group of dinosaurs that had a distinct duck-billed look. They were also dinosaurs with crests.

What gives their faces the duck-like appearance is their flat rostral bones that were stretched sidewards. You may recognize the faces of well-known species like the Saurolophus and Lambeosaurus.

What are Inside Duck-Billed Dinosaurs' Mouths?

a head skeleton of a dinosaur with a crest

Source by: Didier Descouens

Hadrosaurs are herbivorous creatures. They fed on twigs and leaves using the batteries of teeth inside their duck-billed mouths.

They had stacks of teeth that effectively ground up the plants they ate. These were often replaced by new growing teeth to prevent the older ones from wearing out.

Did All Hadrosaurs Have Crests?

some head skeletons of the dinosaurs with crests on a white background

Source by: Pavel Bochkov

Most of them did. Paleontologists organized them neatly by the kind of crest they had.

Some Hadrosaur subfamilies like the Lamebosaurinae had hollow crests. While others like the Saurolophinae had solid crests or none at all.

#5 Lambeosaurus

two dinosaur skeletons on display with the larger in front and the smaller one embedded on a wall

Source by: Etemenanki3

Members of the Lambeosaurus species are unique. Why? Because they’re the only dinosaurs with head crests shaped like a hatchet.

Imagine the Corythosaurus but with a head crest that half looks like a wide flat blade on the left and a hammer on the right. It’s also not much of a surprise that they look similar because the Lambeosaurus and the Corythosaurus are closely related. They belong to the same tribe, the Lambeosaurini.

Let’s dig a little deeper into this unique dinosaur.

Different in a Good Way: Lambeosaurus VS Corythosaurus

illustration of a group of walking crested dinosaurs with a T. rex-like dinosaur on the right

Source by: ABelov2014

What’s the difference between the two if they’re both from the same tribe? The Lambeosaurus is distinct from the Corythosaurus based on two physical features:

  • Crest – the Lambeosaurushad a hatchet-shaped crest that leaned forward. Its nasal passages inside the crest were hollow and stacked on top of the other in the front.
  • Nasal Processes– the Lambeosaurus didn’t have these in its crest, unlike the Corythosaurus.

What’s similar between the two is their possible crest function. Scientists suggest that the Lambeosaurus used its crest to make unique noises like the Corythosaurus. The noises may have helped differentiate one species/member from another.

#6 Liliensternus

brown dinosaur statues with red head crests placed in a forest

Source by: London looks

Can dinosaurs with head crests become more fascinating? They sure can!

Did you know the Liliensternus was named by a German nobleman in 1934 who also owned his own castle?

Count Hugo Ruhle von Lilienstern was a count who discovered the Liliensternus’ skeletons at the Trossingen Formation in Germany. The fossil remains stayed in his castle until 1969 until it was transferred to the Museum of Berlin. You’ll find them there today.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? Let’s get to know this noble dinosaur a little more.

The Importance of the Liliensternus' Features

a green roaring liliensternus in a dark background

Source by: Deviantart

The Liliensternus lived during the Triassic Period nearly 228 million years ago. Because of the way they looked and the time they lived in, scientists consider them to be an “intermediate” of the Dilophosaurus (Early Jurassic) and the Coelophysis (Late Triassic).

This means the Liliensternus came in the middle of these dinosaurs’ timelines and may show how they adapted over time. A good example is the Liliensternus’ short hip bone that’s like the Dilophosaurus’.

Another one is the set of fingers on their hands. The Liliensternus’ fourth and fifth fingers were shorter than the others. This may show how five-fingered dinosaurs in the Triassic period came to have only three in the Jurassic.

The Fast & Furious Dinosaurs with Head Crests

two liliensternus are hunting a dinosaur on the ground

Source by: DinosaurPictures

The largest and most represented Triassic dinosaurs from Europe were also fast and carnivorous theropods. Liliensternus devoured prey by first outrunning them with their swift legs. Then they disabled the dinosaurs like the Plateosaurus with their sharp-edged teeth.

#7 Monolophosaurus

digital art of a single-crested brown dinosaur in a forest

Source by: Dotname2469

Dinosaurs with crests are often found in your typical desert or rock formation. But have you heard of a dinosaur found in a desert which was originally a general’s temple?

The Monolophosaurus is one such dinosaur. It was discovered at Jiangjunmiao in China, a fossil site that used to be a Tang dynasty general’s memorial temple. Here’s a snapshot on the Monolophosaurus.

What's in a Monolophosaurus' Name?

digital art of a single-crested brown dinosaur in a forest

Source by: Kabacchi

The same concept used in the Dilophosaurus’ name is applied to this Mid-Jurassic dinosaur. The Monolophosaurus’ name simply means, “single-crested lizard” from the Greek word “mono”.

Additionally, its crest is one of the traits that set it apart from other dinosaurs. The carnivorous theropod had one large crest on its snout that ran up to the front of its eyes.

The Monolophosaurus’ skull bones are also unique among theropods because it’s the only one that was rectangle-shaped. Other theropods had triangular ones. This is thanks to the position of the Monolophosaurus’ crest.

#8 Oviraptor

fossil replica of a crested dinosaur standing on top of a nest of egg

Source by: EvaK 

The first thought that comes to mind when the Oviraptor is mentioned is that it’s an egg thief. And so goes its name.

But there’s another side to the story when you take a second look. So let’s take a another look at this crested dinosaur.

A Caring Dino Mom

graphic art of a crested feathered dinosaur sitting on a nest under a tree in the desert

Source by: PaleoNeolitic

The Oviraptor was actually a caring dino mom. Scientists mistook the pose it had when it was discovered as if it was stealing eggs.

The Oviraptor fossil was found lying on a nest that had 15 eggs. Later research proves that this was a breeding pose instead. The dinosaur may have died during a sandstorm which explains why it was found that way.

A Feathered & Crested Dinosaur

graphic art of a black dinosaur with a crest on its head and feathers on its body

Source by: PaleoNeolitic

Here’s another dinosaur to add your list of feathered prehistoric creatures. The Oviraptor had long feathers on its arms and tail. The tail had a pygostyle structure which supported the feathers that fanned from it.

The Oviraptor also had a crest. The bones present that supports this though fossils lack obvious evidence are its merged skull bones. These were the parietal and frontal bones.

#9 Parasaurolophus

mounted skeleton of a dinosaur with a long curved head crest at an exhibit

Source by: Jens Lallensack

Chances are, people are very familiar with the Parasaurolophus. It’s been featured in the movies, in books, and made into toys.

It’s a rare hadrosaurid dinosaur despite its fame. Only a few good fossils of the Parasaurolophus have been discovered.

It’s famous for a good reason though. Who wouldn’t like this unique-looking creature? So here are a few fun facts about this rare dinosaur.

The Parasaurolophus' Famous Good Looks

purple hand puppet of a crested dinosaur sitting on green grass

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs with head crests capture the imagination with a sense of awe and curiosity just like this Parasaurolophus hand puppet. That’s unlike large tyrant dinosaurs that bring on a sense of thrilling fear.

It’s the Parasaurolophus’ one of a kind crest that made it distinct from other well-known dinosaurs. It had a large and intricate cranial tube on its head that curved backwards forming a crest-like shape.

Scientists suggest that the crest was used to communicate with other Parasaurolophus. It helped them hear better too.

A Parasaurolophus Nicknamed Joe

graphic art of a young dinosaur with a crest’s skeleton in black and white

Source by: Scott Hartman

A young Parasaurolophus fossil was found in 2009 at Utah’s Kaiparowits Formation. It was just a year old when it died. It’s nicknamed in honor of one of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology’s (RAM) volunteers.

Because of Joe, paleontologists have been able to understand how fast these dinosaurs with crests grew. Their researches suggest the following:

  • Parasaurolophus’ crests grew earlier than other crested dinosaurs.
  • Young ones had low semicircular crests while adults had large tubular crests.

Parasaurolophus had speedy growth rates.

#10 Tsintaosaurus

skeleton of a dinosaur with a crest that grew vertically in a standing pose displayed at a museum

Source by: Gary Todd

We’ve just read about dinosaurs with head crests that looked like Elvis’ hair (Cryolophosaurus) or a slicked back style (Parasaurolophus). But have you heard of one whose crest was originally thought to look like a unicorn’s horn?

Here’s the lowdown on this surprising dinosaur discovery.

The Tsintaosaurus & Its Crest

graphic art of a gray dinosaur with a vertical crest

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Scientists mistakenly assembled the Tsintaosaurus in 1993. It was reconstructed with a crest that resembled a unicorn’s horn.  

New research in 2013 shows a more accurate reconstruction. A fossil specimen of the Tsintaosaurus’ small cranial bones (praemaxilla) led paleontologists Albert Prieto-Marquez and Jonathan Wagner to a different conclusion.

The scientists concluded that the bone structure that looked like a unicorn’s horn was actually the end of a big crest. It began from the dinosaur’s snout and grew upwards from the skull.

A Day in the Life of a Tsintaosaurus

skeleton mount of a dinosaur with a crest that grew vertically beside a T. rex fossil replica

Source by: Gary Lee Todd

Typical days for this hadrosaurid dinosaur from Qingdao, China used to be checking out the Late Cretaceous vegetation for food. It used its strong battery of teeth to chomp down leaves and twigs.

And when predators came nearby, it ran away using its back legs. It probably found strength in numbers too as the Tsintaosaurus may have lived with other members through herds.

The Diverse & Inspiring Dinosaurs with Head Crests

Dilophosaurus, theropod dinosaur inside a forest (3d illustratio

Source by: dottedyeti

Dinosaurs with head crests are one of the most interesting and diverse-looking prehistoric creatures. None look exactly alike though they all share the common feature of a head crest. One dinosaur even had two crests!

And what’s more, the function of the head crests differs too. For some it’s a visual display, for others it’s for communication, and for another kind, it’s for species recognition.

Amazing. Just amazing.

They’re inspiring by themselves and inspiring by the way they look as well. Did you find one that would be a good inspiration for a dinosaur outfit? These will make useful pegs for cute dinosaur hand puppets too.  

Most of all, did you have fun learning? We hope you enjoyed learning all about dinosaurs with crests as much as we did. See you at our next blog post!

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