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From Antarctica: the Elvis of dinosaurs.

While it couldn't have crooned "Love Me Tender" or gyrated it hips, a new type of dinosaur discovered in Antarctica could have passed as a reptillian Elvis impersonator. This as-yet-un-named beast from the Jurassic period sported an unusual head crest that swept upward in a style resembling the King's famous pompadour, according to the paleontologist who found the animals's skull as well as bones of another type fo dinosaur during a 1991 expedition to the frozen continent.

"I called it 'the Elvis Presley of the Jurassic' because that's just what it looks like," says William R. Hammer of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. The dinosaurs found by Hammer and his colleagues are the first ones identified on the Antartic mainland. Researchers have previously uncovered dinosaur specimens along the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches toward the tip of South America.

Hammer described the discoveries last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology in Albuquerque, N.M. He collected the fossils from the flank of Mt. Kirkpatrick in the Transantarctic Mountains, about 650 kilometers from the present-day South Pole.

The Elvis look-alike belonged to a group of carnivorous bipedal dinosaurs known as theropods, which included the famous Tyrannosaurus rex. The Antarctic animal's head crest was a thin layer of grooved bone that most likely served as a display, much like the tail of a male peacock, says Hammer. Although some theropods had crests running lengthwise along the snout, no other known theropod had a crest running perpendicularly across the skull.

"It's one of the most bizarre theropods I've ever seen. That thing is really important," says Philip J. Currie of the Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta.

Besides the crested theropod, Hammer and his colleagues also discovered the foot of a prosauropod dinosaur and the arm of a flying reptile called a pterosaur. The fossils date from the early Jurassic, sometime between 200 million and 175 million years ago. At that time, Antarctica had a far balmier climate and was farther away from the pole, although perhaps still within the Antarctic circle, says Hammer.
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Title Annotation:dinosaur with unusual head crest discovered
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 23, 1993
Words:347
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